Most things with the historical element of Vikings attached grab my attention pretty quickly.
Enter the board game Vikings: Raid & Conquer.
“Raid & Conquer is based on the hit TV series, Vikings,” noted publisher High Roller Games. “This strategic deck building card game is designed to bring out the Viking in any fan and even challenge the most skilled gamers. Experience the life and times of an ambitious Viking in the course of an hour. There are shaky alliances and brutal betrayals. You can battle each other or work together and travel to newly discovered lands to Raid and Pillage. Are you willing to share the plunder when you’re in command?”
That was enough to grab me, but here is just a touch of background for those not familiar with the hit television series.
“Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known legendary Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. The show portrays Ragnar as a farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England, and eventually becomes a Scandinavian king, with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Björn Ironside, and his wives—the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug.”
If you are interested in Vikings, and don’t mind some violence, then this is a series to check out, as season five is under way.
I’ll add in here that High Roller Games is out of Kelowna, BC. and I find that a cool aspect of the game too.
In Raid & Conquer “your goal is to become the next Viking legend. Play as one of the five main characters from the show: Ragnar, Lagertha, Rollo, Floki or Bjorn. Go on raids, attack other characters and collect treasure,” notes the publisher of the 2016 release.
“The game ends when a player has collected five raid cards. This does not mean that the player has won the game. Rather, all characters count their total legend points found in each of the treasure cards and raid cards.
“If you are the player with the most legend points, you become Viking king and win the game of Raid & Conquer.”
So let’s start by saying the cards are great. They use photos from the show, and that certainly gives you a feel for the theme.
The game using a deck-building mechanic, which happens to be one I typically like, so that is a plus. It works well here.
The first few turns are the winter season, a time you are basically just building your deck. It’s a slower part of the game but last only a few turns and thematically works as you use the frozen time to build resources.
Come summer you head out to raid and pillage. Here the game gets its teeth. You can secretly choose to stay home and defend, something you will want to do when you have a bad hand of cards.
Better cards can go raid a fellow player, or if you have a long boat, head out to raid other lands, something you can do alone, or with other player allies.
The shifting idea of clans raiding each other, but later cooperating on larger raids again is thematically strong.
There is one tweak I would have made. Treasure on raids is always the same. That lacks a bit of the ‘oh wow look at the cool treasure I got’ which is too bad.
But overall this game was more than I expected. Games based on some popular show can sometimes be very thin, simply put out to cash in on the tie-in. Vikings: Raid & Conquer avoids that pitfall with a very solid deck-builder that offers options in approach during the game. It is not a passive game, (like Dominion the most-famed deck-builder). You will raid your friends and then cooperate with them, then raid them again. Choices like that are a good thing.
This game is a very good thing too for all the reasons above. Great television show and a worthy game based upon it.