I commented on my Twitter feed that Blood Rage was my new favorite game. There are many reasons for this, but I realize in hindsight that this may have been a bit erroneous. It is my favorite new game that I have tried, for there are a few games I still enjoy a bit more if not for the simple fact that I have played them so many times now. But Blood Rage is definitely up there in terms of pure fun and I can’t wait to play it a few more times to really get the hang of it.
The reasons are simple, but as in all of my reviews, I want to start off with what the game is about.
Ragnarök has come, and it’s the end of the world! It’s the Vikings’ last chance to go down in a blaze of glory and secure their place in Valhalla at Odin’s side! Blood Rage is a Viking board game created by acclaimed game designer Eric M. Lang. In this fast-paced yet highly strategic game, players take control of Viking clans, with their own warriors, leader and ship. Invading, pillaging and battling in a quest to gain as much glory as possible before Ragnarök finally consumes the land! Here comes the ultimate Viking saga. The game’s striking visuals are a combination of Adrian Smith’s highly evocative artwork, and Mike McVey’s amazingly detailed miniatures for this mythological game.
Blood Rage is an incredible game where each player takes control of a mythological Viking clan seeking glory as Ragnarök approaches with impending doom and destroying certain areas of the board deeming them off-limits for placement. The game is played in three ages or rounds, and has elements of card-drafting, battling, and territory control with forces expertly and beautifully represented by plastic miniatures. All of the conflicts on the board are resolved through playing battle cards, upgrade cards for clans, leaders, and monsters, as well as strategy cards that generally give the most glory (victory points).
Though setting up probably took the most amount of time, and without Jeremy’s help we would have been lost, having a game master present meant all the difference. I chose the wolf clan simply because I love House Stark in the Game of Thrones TV series and board game franchise, and was dealt eight cards to play from. Unbeknownst to me, not drafting any strategy cards but many attack cards meant I was the one to attack and take control of as many areas as possible. What I learned too late (only during the third age) was that I could “march” into any area on the board rather than one space over, and so didn’t prevent others from their own strategy cards and eliciting the most amount of glory points.
The game, once the mechanics are learned briefly and within a short period of time, played incredibly smoothly and simply. We had four players on the board and this seemed to be absolutely perfect (though the five player expansion would be interesting). During the night, we had four others playing Star Wars Armada and three others playing Ticket to Ride while we hunkered down and learned a new one. There were a few spectators who were content to watch as well.
I cannot express to the reader enough the simplicity of the game yet the deep strategies involved, as well as hiding the motives that the strategy cards give you. By the second age, even though I was well behind in the glory points at this stage, was where I was given the first strategy of area control, yet others had what I was hoping for; glory from Valhalla.
Think about this: out of all of the games I have played, I have never had the dynamic where you could win by dying gloriously in battle, and taking control of huge detailed “monsters” like the troll that destroyed all players in an area when placed in a section was such a fun enterprise and undertaking. Others did the same. We were all vying for control of certain areas, and what I will do next game is make sure I have a stronghold not only in my own strategy-induced places, but also in others in hopes of destroying their glory points.
Blood Rage offers an incredible amount of depth to keep any strategic player completely entertained while also allowing the more casual player to have an amazing experience. Players have to choose their strategies carefully during the draft phase but also must be ready to adapt and react to their opponent’s strategies as the action phase unfolds. What I love, absolutely love, about the game is that battles are decided not only by the strength of the figures involved, but also by the cards played in secret. One can simply observe an opponent’s actions and allegiances to specific gods, once the cards are known, and then you will be able to predict what cards they are likely to play and plan accordingly.
Though I do not own the game myself, it will be my next purchase for sure, as well as all of the expansions, for Blood Rage is so simple that I myself, after playing it once, feel confident enough to teach as a game master. The game ended in second for me, just behind the GM who taught us, and I will be out for blood come next game night for Dualist Gaming. I invite you to join us and see for yourself just how amazing this game is. Or, simply pick up a copy yourself and see just how amazing it is. Take hold of the glory of Valhalla and wager hard on the gods who dictate the game!
And check back in a few weeks when we get new games in stock!