Have you ever wanted to be a Viking? Storming the battlefield in search of riches and glory? Bleeding with your brothers in arms, and earning your way into Valhalla?
I can honestly say, NO.
That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I mean, I want to be as cool as a Viking, but to actually be one sounds brutally unforgiving. You would probably be dirty all of the time, constantly fighting off infection and trying not to get your head split open. And in the movies and shows they always end of having some feud with someone they thought was their best friend, and have to fight them… it all just seems horrible.
Luckily for us, we can enjoy all of the fun, without any of the drawbacks, by playing “Blood Rage”, a 1-4 player tabletop miniatures game by Eric Lang and Cool Mini Or Not Games.
In Blood Rage, players take on the role of Viking Clans, feuding with each other to gain control of as much territory as possible; while raiding villages, fighting opposing clans, and recruiting horrible monsters to fight by your side. And of course, all of this is done while Ragnarok is crashing down around us.
How It’s Played
The game is played over three rounds, with Ragnarok destroying a different territory, and minimizing the map size after each round.
The first part of each round, players get a hand of cards and perform a basic card draft. This means players get to take one card from the hand they are dealt that they want to keep, but then have to pass the rest of the cards to the player on their left, and they also get the hand from the player on their right. Players all pick another card from that hand and pass like before. Players do this until everyone has 6 cards.
Cards are used to increase strength during a fight, start a quest, or upgrade your clan.
Players then take turns until everyone has exhausted their rage meters. Players each start with a rage meter, and rage is the currency used to perform actions like placing figures on the board, raiding adjacent territories and upgrading your characters.
When all players have used their rage, the round ends, players get glory points based on quests they completed, Ragnarok consumes another territory, and players get all of their figures back to start the next round.
At the end of the three rounds, whichever clan has the most glory points is declared the winner.
A Basic Turn
On a players turn they can choose between 5 actions to use, and will keep getting a turn each time the action comes around the table, as long as they have rage left to spend. The actions include placing a figure on the board (Invading), moving your figures to a new location (Marching), pillaging a territory, starting a quest, and upgrading your clan.
Placing a figure on the board is called Invading. You can place your figure on the board anywhere you like as long as there is an open spot in that territory. Each territory has 3-5 spots. Figures can be basic clan members, a clan leader (who is stronger and who comes on the board for free), your Viking ship, or monsters you recruit along the way.
Marching allows a player to take as many of their figures from one territory and move them to another territory. That territory does not need to be adjacent, and they do not need to move all of their figures.
Pillaging a territory is the most interesting action a player can perform. To pillage a territory, a player only needs to have at least one figure in that territory. Once a player declares they are pillaging, all other players who have a figure in an adjacent territory get the opportunity to bring their figures into that territory to contest the pillaging, as long as there is room to do so. Once the territory is full or no players want to move their figures, the pillaging takes place. Any player with a figure in that territory chooses one card from their hand and places it face down. At the same time all players involved reveal their card and add its strength modifier to the current strength of their armies in that territory. The highest strength wins, and all others player’s figures are moved to Valhalla. If the original pillaging player wins, they also get the pillage bonus.
Starting a quest simply requires the player to put a quest card face down. If at the end of the round they have accomplished the text of the card, they get the allotted glory points.
Upgrade cards can either upgrade your clan members, your clan leader, your navy, or give you a horrible monster to fight at your side. Players simply place the card in their clan sheet, pay the allotted rage, and the upgrade takes effect.
Blood Rage fills a hole inside of me that I did not know I had. The opportunity to lead a clan of warrior Vikings as they set out for glory and honor is satisfying in so many ways.
The theme of the game is really in sync with the mechanics. The whole thing feels very organic, it flows well, and feels really fun when you get to place your figures on the board, move them to oppose your enemies, and even when you die gloriously in battle.
Something really great about Blood Rage is how the quest cards give everyone the opportunity to win while playing the game a completely different way. Instead of all of the players fighting for the same things, some players are out to win battles, while others may play a quest card that gives them tons of glory points by dying heroically in battle and going to Valhalla. Other players may try to die gloriously in Ragnarok, or work solely to recruit giant Monsters to sweep the battle field.
I love the fact that each time I play Blood Rage I can play it a different way and still have fun, as well as a fighting chance to actually win.
I also give mad props to the creators of the game for fantastic art and great quality components. For the price, you will never find another board game with this many high quality miniatures. I mean, check out the amazing quality of the monster miniatures. They are insane! The price could easily be doubled for what you get in this box.
The play time of the game is also good. It plays in about 90 minutes once you know when you are doing. Also, you can skip the card drafting and just pass out the cards, to reduce the game time significantly.
The only thing I wish they would change about the game play is that each territory only has a certain number of spots for figures and if these spots are full, no more warriors can enter that territory. This limitation really frustrates that feeling of all out war that I want from this game. Often, players who want to join a battle are unable to because all of the spots are full. Also, a player can fill up all of the spots in a territory and stop any other players from fighting for that space. A game about Vikings should be all out mayhem, and this limitation really detracts from that feeling. I will note though, that the center of the map, a territory called “Yggdgrasil”, allows an unlimited number of warriors to enter, and boasts a huge reward for whoever pillages this territory. I just wish this applied to the entire map.
To Sum Up
Blood Rage is a great game that I highly recommend. The game feels very organic with the theme, the components are great, including tons of miniatures, and being a Viking feels awesome! Also, be sure to check out their multiple expansions, including the 5th player expansion. Blood Rage should be in every gaming collection, and enjoyed by all.
Play on boys and girls