I enjoy gaming in all forms, but my first love is roleplaying games. Having said that, I do enjoy a good boardgame.
For me, a “good” boardgame has to have three elements:
- It has to be “fun.” I know this is a nebulous criteria, but basically I have to get a feeling of enjoyment from playing it. As an example, I don’t particular find the game of chess to be fun. It’s interesting, and challenging, but it doesn’t ever bring a smile to my face when playing it. But there are plenty of games that do bring that smile.
- It has to have some complexity, but that complexity must serve the needs of the game. I don’t mind simple games, but I find that my mind wanders if it’s too simple. And games that add levels of complexity just to make the game more “challenging” without serving some in-game purpose are not going to keep my interest.
- It has to have flavour that actually interacts with the rules of the game. Going back to chess, it doesn’t matter what the figures are shaped like—the rules are the rules. Playing chess with figures shaped like dragons may look cool, but it has no bearing on the game.
I recently got to play a great boardgame with some good friends that hits all three of those criteria.
I’m not going to go into a full review of this game—there’s a ton of those out on the web. I’m just going to mention a few things that I particularly enjoyed.
Needless to say, the minis in this game are fantastic. The sculpts are excellent, and there’s a great selection. Obviously, this is an area where the publishers of the game excel, so no one should be surprised the minis are so detailed and well-formed.
The only thing that detracts from the collection in the box is the fact that the female figures are dressed like strippers from Thor’s “gentlemen’s club.” It’s an unfortunate choice that was completely unnecessary. Everyone in the game is supposed to be a badass, and the men are dressed in appropriate armour that makes them look so, but the game designers decided the women had to be half-naked badasses.
However, if you leave the minis unpainted, the details aren’t so pronounced and you can play the game without having the boobs in your face.
The various levels of play
There’s a lot going on in this game. The card drafting, the battles, the clan upgrades, the multiple paths to victory, all combine to give the player a lot to think about. But the whole thing hangs together really well, and I was never left thinking that complexity was added just to make the game more challenging. Each element works with the others to make a complete game.
This game just drips with flavour. You’re playing Vikings, dammit! And the designers decided that every element should both have that flavour and serve the rules. For example, if you collect Loki cards, then you’re not just going to go out and win battles. Rather, you gain victory points for losing battles, which is exactly the opposite of what one would expect (hence, Loki). There are so many examples of this in the game that I could write multiple posts on the various bits of flavour and how they were tied into the actual gameplay.
If you play board games and you haven’t heard of Blood Rage yet, you owe it to yourself to at least check out some reviews. This is a game that takes some time to play (our first game went ~3 hours), but at no point did I feel anything got bogged down or felt like I wanted it to be over. It’s no substitute for a good RPG session (in my opinion), but it was a blast to play and the entire thing felt suitably epic.
Have you played Blood Rage? Tell me about your experience in the comments.