Colin Jones
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***DISCLAIMER***This BGG forum post was composed as a course requirement for an honors seminar at Central College (Board in Class: An Academic Survey of Modern Board Games, SP17). Constructive feedback and conversation from all BGG users is welcomed and encouraged!

After playing Champions of Midgard quite a few times I’ve come to be pretty familiar with the gameplay. And while I do love the game and have enjoyed it every time I’ve played, I have noticed that most of the games are pretty familiar. The person who amasses an army quickly and is able to go battle Draugr early is able to amass glory and gold while also getting resources with another meeple. From there they can buy longships or use public longships to go battle monsters and get more glory to run away with it. I’m not saying that this is a winning formula 100% of the time, but in my experience this strategy, or a version of it, is successful most times. The reasons why I’m writing about the new expansions and the need for them, is because it seems like players who are looking to strategize just a bit more are out of luck with the base game.

But we are in luck! Grey Fox Games has had a very successful Kickstarter campaign for two new expansions. They raised $541,399 from 7,062 backers, which speaks to the popularity of the game, and developed The Dark Mountains and Valhalla expansions.

Let’s start with The Dark Mountains expansion. To be honest I would have been happy with just this expansion and you’ll see why. To start off one of the frustrating things about the base game was that only four players were able to play the game which I found frustrating because I found myself only being able to guide new players in a game and not crushing them mercilessly as I would have liked. This expansion adds a fifth player to the game and with that comes a larger board. My favorite thing about this is that it adds more market tiles into play so each player has even more options for their meeples and increases the number of strategies a player can use. In addition to the increased locations for market stalls there are two brand new stalls themselves as well as a beggars’ lane stall which possibly adds more strategies as well. Another private ship is added as well along with one new destiny card and five new rune cards.

Another nice addition in the Dark Mountains expansion is the archer die which adds a whole new level to combat. But archers are even more effective at hunting with the 50% chance of getting double food while hunting. They also only have one blank side so they are very reliable as well. This makes choosing Viking Warriors even more valuable and forces the players to plan out moves farther in advance. Now perhaps the best addition of this expansion, in my opinion, is the 24 new Monster cards. Each of the new monsters has a unique benefit and ability. For example, if defeated the Fylgja allows the player to count Destiny cards twice at the end of the game. The just gives more options for players to use. They can plan out which specific monsters they should kill in order to fit their play style or their Viking Leader’s ability the best. In addition to new Monsters they have added 24 Bergrisars as well which function similar to Trolls and Draugrs with permanent refillable locations on the map, but the reward for defeating them seems to be an archer die. Finally, this expansion includes 24 new land journey cards. These cards function the same as the sea journey cards in the base game but these cards do not always result in a negative effect or an all quiet. Players can now pay coins to recruit another warrior or can pay coin to negate the effect of a card.

This seems to be a very promising expansion that addresses all my complaints with the monotony of the base game. But wait there’s more! The Valhalla expansion is the second of the expansions due to release in June.

The Valhalla expansion adds similar components as The Dark Mountains such as an additional board, new destiny cards, and another Viking Leader. This expansion pack makes the combat opportunities much more diverse, starting with the addition of the Viking Leader die and leader ability boards. Each player now has a die that can be rolled that represents their Viking Leader which can possibly lead to the activation of a leader’s special ability. I think that this just increases the options that a player has to choose from before and after combat. Also, a nice catch up mechanic has been thrown in with the addition of the sacrifice tokens. Say a player has a particularly bad round(s) of combat and many of their warriors die. For each dead warrior the player earns a sacrifice token to be place in their Burial Ground which can then be used to get Valkyrie Blessings or defeat new Epic Monster Cards. There are only 6 Epic Monster Cards that can be defeated and a player can only defeat them with the appropriate sacrifice tokens. These cards give a moderate amount of glory at the time of defeat but gives a payoff at the end of the game based off of how many other enemy cards a player had defeated. The Valkyrie Blessing cards also require payment of sacrifice tokens and give players useful rewards such as reviving a defeated leader die, resources, favor, or new Berserker or Shieldwarrior die. These new die just add more strength to a players longhouse which just allows them to defeat more monsters.

With all of these new additions the game becomes much more versatile. The players are able to beat each other in many different ways. This gives each player more to think about and engages each of them in order for them to maximize their points while also having to consider how other players could beat them. All of this just helps give a popular new game lasting value for years to come.

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