First let me say this:
For the record, I enjoyed my first game of Viking Fury, and I look forward to playing it again.
That said, here are some more specific thoughts I had after our game, which rayito described well in his session report (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/126798).
The first question you need to ask yourself is, "Where do I want to go?" and the second, "What should I do once I get there?"
This is indeed the fundamental question in the game, and it's a good one! This part of the design I enjoyed thoroughly (however you spell that). Here's the jist of the mechanic:
There are three things you can do to get points: Trade, Raid, and Colonize. In order to Trade, you need to have trade goods on your longship. In order to Raid or Colonize you need to have Vikings on your longship. There are only so many spaces on your longship.
Aside: as the game progresses into Era 2, an additional spot opens up on the longships, and one more in Era 3. This means that after spending a turn preparing, you can do more stuff before you have to go back home and restock
The Saga cards guide some of your decisions as to which ports to visit, and whether to reaid them, trade with them, or colonze them. It's probably always better to trade with a port before raiding or colonizing it, because that makes it easier - and besides, trading gets you some more points.
Aside: yes, I said trading makes it easier to attack a port. I guess you soften them up and they don't see it coming. This is not so antithematic that it bothers me, in fact I think it's amusing. The fact that after you raid you can still trade and they don't look at you any different sort of bothers me.
But as I said, you can only bring so much stuff with you. So if you intend to Raid some more, then you can't afford to carry too many trade goods.
This is the meat and potatoes of the game, you have a limited number of "days" each turn to spend preparing for a voyage, or moving around the board. Raiding, Trading, and Settleing are all 'free' actions (it takes a day to sail into port, but no time to sack it!) as are playing cards. Playing cards or discarding them allows you to affect the weather - making it harder or easier to travel. I like that it gets harder or easier to travel, and that it's harder to travel in the arctic north than the temporate south part of the board. I'm not sure how much I like that the players control it at their whim. Maybe if you had to choose between the cards effect or changing the weather (rather than getting both) it would seem less inconsequential.
Points are scored during the game by trading with colonies and by raiding them. Bonuses are scored at the end for having the most Saga cards in each Era (or is it area?), the most Raid tokens, and for colonization. These bonuses are huge (or can be) compared to the points you get during the game...
You have to keep in mind the end game when you play Viking Fury as there are a lot of bonus points to be had based on Sagas, Settlements and Treasures.
This didn't bother me much. At the game end, I had scored less than 50 points so far, and my endgame bonus was 116 points - just for colonies! (I got maybe 10 points for Sagas.)
As a result of this, it looked as if I was severely behind in the game. As Ray pointed out, he actually lapped me on the point track. Everyone was sure I was going to lose, but counting up my Colony score I knew I was right about in the pack (at the time I had about 50 points worth of colonies, and the score track is 50 points long).
I had a lot of fun despite floundering during the last half of the game. Admittedly I've only played once, but I have to say that this is one of the most brilliantly designed Euro games I've ever seen. It's fun, thematic and exciting. I'll write a review with more detail after I get the chance to play a little more.
I had fun playing "Viking Furry" - as has been mentioned in many reviews, the "Fury" part of the name is something of a misnomer, but there are plenty of furs to trade! I don't know if I can share Ray's enthusiasm as far as to say that Viking Fury is one of the most brilliantly designed Euro game, as I did have some issues with the game which to me felt like the game was imbalanced and thereby decidedly not a brilliant Euro design (it was still fun though). These are the things to which I think the "Fury" part of the title stem from. For example:
I felt a severe turn order effect, which gave me the feeling that I was (a) always behind another player, and (b) should be following the player behind me in the turn order around, so as to avoid that behind-ness and take advantage of the turn order. I find that distracting from the game experience.
There's a rule wherein a player losing all their vikings must immediately return their ship to Wintering (the starting space) and end their turn. You can also choose to do this at the cost of losing everything on your ship save 1 viking. It felt a bit jarring to 'teleport' back home at the end of almost every turn or two, as you would basically move out until you ran out of stuff and then jump back home. The rule makes sense, and I can see why it ought to exist, but I felt like it happened alltogether too often.
When one Saga is completed, another comes up immediately from the deck. It often seemed to me that every time a new Saga came up, I was at a disadvantage timing-wise or else board position-wise in order to get it. I think this was largely a perceived thing more than an actual thing, but I found it somehow annoying - albeit just a little.
And of course the die rolling. Now I used to heartily defend the die rolling in Settlers, and games like Blood Bowl, or Risk, saying that you know there are no guarantees about odds, and if you play expecting the odds to be proof of the outcome then you deserve to be crushed when you get a bad roll. Over time and exposure to more (and better) German games, my distaste has grown for dice-based games like Settlers whose resources can be largely affected by unusual rolls. In Viking Fury the dice is not as bad as in some games - indeed, you can play the whole game without rolling a die if you like. And when you do roll, you know the odds, and you can mitigate your luck by deciding how many Vikings to risk (i.e. how many dice to roll), and you know exactly what will happen if you get a bad roll. However... here's an anecdote which might um up what I don't like about the die rolling in Viking Fury:
diatribe about dice... dice-atribe? wrote:
I had 5 Vikings on my longship and held a Rune card in hand which said "When attacking a port in a region where you have a settlement, add 1 to each die rolled." I had 1 Settlement in a particular region, and there was a Saga card requiring the settlement of the other 2 ports. I had orchastrated the position in which my longship full of vikings was in position to, in 1 turn, settle one of the ports, get a Viking back (via another Rune card), move to the next port, and settle it as well, claiming the Saga card and quite a few settlement points.
Well, I pondered which roll (the first, or the second) to use the Rune card on. It seemed pretty equivalent, so I just used the card on the first roll, and I rolled 5's and 6's anyway - no problem colonizing there. Then on the second attack, I needed at least one 4, 5, or 6 out of 3 dice (odds on that are what, 87.5% in my favor, right?) to complete my play. Of course I didn't have that card anymore, since I had to use it before I rolled last time (obviously). Needless to say, I failed my roll. Just for fun, as the next player took his turn, I rolled the three dice on the side, and I rolled 40 successes in a row before rolling another failure.
In retrospect I could have done better by using my card on the second attack, as the first attack failing could give me the opportunity to change my mind about the rest of my turn, but still - I felt like my planning was sound, I had the vkings to back up my play, and the odds were well on my side, and instead of me scoring a lot of points, I was utterly defeated, losing 3 Vikings in the attack, leaving me with 1 lone Viking on my ship. I was able to leave my ship in the port to protect the Saga card, and I managed to succeed at the longer shot, 50-50 next turn to colonize again, and that was all I was able to do for the whole turn. So that bad die roll set me back an entire turn relative to my opponents, plus another turn's worth of value from actions (because I spent a whole turn doing just 1 thing). That one bad roll had a large impact on the game.
Similarly, on my last turn I had the opportunity to take a 50-50 die roll for 31 points: settling a 4-point port, which would be the third settlement in the region of which I had 2 of them, plus winning a card which would tie me for 1st place in cards for that era, netting me a total of 12 points for the Settlement, 4 more points for the other settlement in that region (Ray would have gotten 4 more as well), plus an extra 5 points for the Saga card I already had for that era, plus 10 points for the Saga card I would have gotten for the Settlement. I happened to lose the game by 30 points.
Now that last I don't lame on the dice, I had that same 50-50 shot all game if I wanted it, and it was just a 50-50, and if I thought one of the other players wouldn't have tried to take it I could have bettered my chances before rushing to the port. I just mention it to show how much difference a 50-50 die roll can make.
All in all, despite the problems I mention I think Viking Fury is a good game and a fun game. It's definitely worth the time investment to give it a try, and I think it's worth a couple more plays at least. I don't even mind the tablecloth board, though I wish the ships could have been wooden bits or cool-looking plastic figures. Also, if it were my copy, I'd probably find a way to stain/paint/color the water with some shade of blue.
I'd rate Viking Fury at about a 7.
Bonuses are scored at the end for having the most Saga cards in each Era (or is it area?)
This was a mistake I made in explaining the rules. It turns out that in each Era each of the Viking nations (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) have three Saga cards. This is marked clearly on the front of the card, I just didn't pay attention to it. In short: 9 cards for each Era, 3 cards for each Viking nation in each Era, 3 random cards from each Era removed at the start of the game, 6 cards in each Era used at the start of the game, 0 to 3 cards for each Viking nation in each Era at the start of the game.
You get bonuses at the end for you majority in the Viking nation not in the Era. If you have three 1st Era cards you could have one each of Norway, Sweden and Denmark and still not get any bonuses at the end of the game.
Daniel U. Thibault
Invasions is different from Viking Fury in that only six of the nine Saga cards of each era are in-game. This increases replayability considerably, and adds uncertainty during the game, since you have no idea how many sagas there are for each nation (it could be any number from zero to nine!). Add to this the additional Rune cards which allow for some very nasty tricks, and you have a more tumultuous game.