Scott Sexton
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Silver Lake
66539
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Conclusion- This is easily my favorite under the radar game. Released in 2013, The Valkyrie Incident has only 59 ratings on BGG, one written review on BGG (before this review that is), no videos on BGG, and hasn't been reviewed by the Dice Tower (or anyone else I know of). VI is a true gem of a deck builder that offers players a hybrid deck building area control/combat experience.

Hybrid deck building games are all the rage of late. Valley of the Kings and Magnum Opus being two excellent hybrid deck builders that were released in the past 6 months alone. You shouldn't feel bad though if you've never heard of Small Box Game's 2013 release The Valkyrie Incident, however, if you are a fan of deck building games, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.


Why should you care about The Valkyrie Incident?


1- Pedigree. The Valkyrie Incident is yet another area control game from indie game designer John Clowdus (Small Box Games). If you've played a John Clowdus game before (Hemlock, Omen) you already have an idea of John's love of card based area control games (Star Wars CCG from Decipher, Doomtown, Draco Magi, Warhammer: Conquest, and the like). The art and layout design comes from established gaming artist John Aroisa (best known for his art for Summoner Wars). Aesthetically, the game looks and feels like a Plaid Hat Games release. Game play wise, this game has a distinctive John Clowdus feel as well. This is not your typical indie game release because this is a well established designer/artist duet and if you are fans of either, you can stop reading this review and simply buy the game. On the other hand, if you are a detractor of either, then take heed that this isn't likely a game for you unless you happen to love deck building games.

2- Affordable. $8.99 for a 100 card self contained deck builder (you can only buy these directly from www.smallboxgames.com)? Yes, please! The downside is that you'll need to print your own copy of the rules and the game doesn't come with a box. You are getting a Star Realms/Valley of the King quality of experience at a bargain price.

3- Unique mash up deck builder with a fascinating twist. Lets ignore the theme for today and focus strictly on the game play. VI is a pretty straight forward mash up of a deck builder and an area control card game. The game begins with both players drafting 15 card starter decks. Once your starting decks are drafted players play three rounds of the game and then conclude with a final battle to determine the winner. Each round during the game is broken into two parts. Part one is the drafting phase. The drafting phase begins with drawing a hand of cards and consists of each player taking a turn drafting cards from a common market of random cards (this is almost exactly what you would see in a game of Star Realms or Ascension). The second phase of the round is the War phase where the players draw a new hand of cards and earn victory points by fighting over 4 locations.

That sounds A LOT like High Command from Privateer Press!!! Yes it does, however VI came out before HC. There are no unique detachment decks in VI, you are drafting cards from a shared deck, and further more, it is impossible to turtle in VI. If you can't go out and win fights, you are conceding AT LEAST 15 points to your opponent and that can't be overcome like it can in HC. VI and HC feel very similar, however, I would argue that VI is a more balanced game due to the shared deck of purchasable cards, while HC is slightly more streamlined in its transitions from phase to phase. Those opinions are based only off of my feelings about the games though as I've not tested this notion objectively.

So far, I've omitted the best part about VI, and what makes it stand out as a truly unique and innovative game. In every single deck building game (and most card games for that matter) I've played, shuffling your discard pile into your draw deck is an established mechanic. It almost goes without saying that any time you are drawing cards and you run out of cards in your draw deck, you simply shuffle your discard pile and form a new draw deck. VI tweaks that norm with a rule that simply says you can't reshuffle your discard pile just because you've drawn up your last card in your deck. If that happens in the game, you are SOL. There are only two ways to reshuffle: 1- Through card abilities; and 2- At the beginning of your draft phase, you can choose to draw one fewer cards (a nasty penalty in this game) in order to reshuffle your deck immediately. When you read that, it sounds awful. I thought that rule was going to kill the fun for me, but oh boy was I wrong. That one little twist makes this game awesome. It makes this game feel completely unlike any other deck builder I've played. A player must constantly gauge their draw deck as a resource. There is a constant sense of tension about when and how you should decide to shuffle your deck. It offers the game an extra layer of strategy and even a lite push your luck element. Many of the cards offer extremely cool powers that would normally allow you to shotgun through your deck with mind blowing combos, however, blasting through your deck isn't always a good thing, especially if it leaves you short on drawing cards at the end of the round when you need them the most.

One last thing I want to mention that I really enjoy about the design of VI is how well done the multi-use cards work. Almost any card can be played for 4 different uses depending on the phase of the game you are currently in. The options are plentiful, without inducing AP.

What are the draw backs?

1- 2 players only.

2- 2 phase gameplay for each round (plus the final conflict) is a bit clunky until you have a game or two under your belt. This is a game that benefits greatly from a player aid or having the rules handy. The back and forth between phases is a bit jarring until you get used to it.

Who should buy this game?

If you are a fan of deck builders, buy this game.
If you enjoy tactical 2 player combat card games, buy this game.
If you grew up on pvp CCGs in the 90s, buy this game.
If you want to play a deck builder that feels different from every other deck builder, buy this game.
If you want a deck builder that has REAL player interaction and combat, buy this game.
If you'd rather date the girl with the tortoise shell glasses, buy this game.
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Peter Asimakis
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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Thanks for your insightful and entertaining review.
I received my copy last week and am hoping to get it to the table soon.
This whets the appetite!

Cheers,

PLB.
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Nushura
United States
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I agree with all the points except one: I see no occasion in which I would play this game instead of (say) Omen. The two games are very different, and this one has the deckbuilding aspect built into the game (more than Omen), but I still do not see it hitting table.
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Scott Sexton
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Silver Lake
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Nushura wrote:
I agree with all the points except one: I see no occasion in which I would play this game instead of (say) Omen. The two games are very different, and this one has the deckbuilding aspect built into the game (more than Omen), but I still do not see it hitting table.

I didn't say anything in my review about this replacing Omen. For me, this game competes with self contained deck building games (like Star Realms, Valley of the Kings, Paperback). It scratches a different itch.

Different strokes for different folks. I know plenty of folks who enjoy playing Munchkin even though I don't enjoy it. I can't begrudge a person for personal taste and preferences.
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Simon Jester
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Nice review of a great game that deserves more renown.

VI also excited the Timmy in me. COGDRIVES ARE AWESOME.
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Nushura
United States
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scottatlaw wrote:
I didn't say anything in my review about this replacing Omen. For me, this game competes with self contained deck building games (like Star Realms, Valley of the Kings, Paperback). It scratches a different itch.
I didn't say that you said that this replaces Omen either

To me the two games scratch the same itch (both are 2-player 20 minute strategy games. Both are portable and need only 100 cards). I have both and I have to admit that The Vaklyrie Incident has not hit the table in the last 2 years. Omen has.

Simply put, this game scores 7 out of 10 in a very crowded category of games. And as such...why bother with a 7 when there are tons of 10s?

P.s: I dare you start your response with "I didn't say that you said that I didn't say that bla"
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j clowdus
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
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Thanks for the review and glad you enjoyed the game!
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Uwe and Feld
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Connecticut
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Wow great review!
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