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Subject: Beowulf the Legend - Review and Our First Game rss

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Leo Tischer
United States
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Beowulf the Legend by Reiner Knizia – Our group played its first game of Beowulf the Legend last night. We read the rules, including the advanced rules, and played a complete 4-player advanced game in just about 90 minutes. The heart of the game revolves around collecting a hand of cards. These are used in auctions to bid for victory points, gold, more cards, healing, random bonuses (victory points or gold), or to avoid scratches & wounds. The card-collecting and auctions occur during a sequence of “episodes” relating to the heroic epic Beowulf. In the basic game, gold simply counts as victory points. In the advanced game, there are a number of episodes where you bid gold instead of cards. The final episodes are the big fight with Scatha the dragon and the death of Beowulf. Whoever has the most victory points becomes Beowulf’s successor and wins the game.

The game moved quickly and the bidding decisions were very interesting. The crux of the game is managing your card resources over the long haul. It seemed that the most important decisions for me were which episodes to bow out of early (and therefore take a scratch or wound). There were very few that I felt were must-win, but there were several where it was important to not be last.

One important option during the bidding is taking a risk. If you don’t have the right card symbols (cards show 1 or 2 of a symbol; there are 6 different symbols), you can opt to take a risk. This means that you turn over the next two cards from the draw deck. If either or both of the cards show a symbol needed for the current bidding round, you get to add them to your bid total and continue in the auction. If no required symbols are drawn, you are automatically out of the bidding and take a scratch (3 scratches = 1 wound, and more than 2 wounds at the end of the game is VERY bad). Our group quickly found that it’s better to take a lot of risks. During this game, the risk paid off about 80% of the time, yielding one or many times two cards to add to the bid. Choosing the right combination of cards from your hand and risks was very key to the game.

Everyone had their ups & downs in the auctions, and at the end the scores were close. The finals were 30, 25, 23, & 19. The winner and I were tied at 25, but there is a 5-point bonus for finishing with no wounds, which he did and I didn’t.

All in all, the game was very enjoyable and remained interesting throughout. The need to manage cards keeps you constantly looking ahead and trying to decide when to risk and when to use up what you’re holding. There is some memory involved, as gold & VP’s are secret once awarded (I don’t recall the rules saying specifically, but that’s how we played). It helps if you can remember approximately how much gold and how many VP’s the other players have collected. This will help you decide when you need to bid and when you can afford to drop out. All four of us enjoyed the game. I’m sure it will see the table again soon, next time most likely with 5 players.
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