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Subject: Very disappointing first impression rss

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Scott Moore
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Unfortunately, my first couple of plays of this were game were so disappointing that they are likely to remain my only impression of the game (not that I wouldn't play it again - but I doubt that I'll be able to find opponents to play it with).

Overall: my disappointment began when I first saw a copy of the game (bought retail - I had to wait another month before receiving my Kickstarter copy). I really expected better quality components given the success of the Kickstarter campaign - they just don't measure up to the standards of most games these days, nor even to some Academy Games products I've played in the past. When I took it out for a spin with a mixed group of 4 players, the game itself went down like a lead balloon. I was hoping for an improvement on the likes of 1775, but this seems like a backward step. Having only played it multiplayer once, I would like to give it another chance, but I just can't see it getting to the table - 2 of my fellow players rated it a '3' and I'm sure no one will now touch it with a barge pool at my club where we played it. A subsequent solitaire play did little to suggest that our first impressions were unjustified.

Components: very mixed. The map is functional but bland. Some of the cards were very poorly cut with noticeable differences between the card backs. The plastic minis just don't work - they are too small to see to the modelling and so are, in effect, small and awkwardly shaped pieces of plastic. One of our players didn't regard it as worth the effort to stand them up, and I don't blame him. Even cubes would have been better. I get the impression that figures were included purely because they sell games on Kickstarter. A smaller number of larger figures would at least have made some sort of sense from both an aesthetic and functional point of view. The KS exclusives of the "wooden" (not real wood) card holders and treaty board look okay but perform no useful function.

Theme: poor. There are relatively few thematic elements: names of the Viking leaders, names of the cities and seas (the Anglo-Saxon is a nice touch), and the event cards. There are some nice card illustrations but they are too small. There is some differentiation between the troops through the different dice but it is thematically meaningless. Major geographical features that were of huge significance to the Viking invasions (e.g. rivers) are entirely absent.

Game play: this is the hardest to judge from a single play but, in a couple of words, the game was dull and unengaging. The chance factor is just too high, giving players the sense of having little control. I can understand the use of the dice - indeed, I like the idea of having different dice for the different factions (possibly inspired by another viking-themed game called Champions of Midgard). The card system is rather ineffective and clunky - a hand of only three cards when just under half of the deck are event cards means that players will usually either have no choice of movement card, or only movement cards and thus the disadvantage of having no event cards. But the element that really impacts negatively on the game is the completely random player order. Another major problem for us was the completely artificial division of the two sides into factions. The factions are nonsense from a thematic point of view and are too similar - the different dice and event cards are not enough to give them distinct characters. This really feels to me as though it is a 2-player game that has been poorly adapted for 4 players. Some type of geographical differentiation between the factions - combined perhaps with different terrain types - could make for a game that has four distinct roles rather than just two.

Addendum: in all the time since I wrote this review, no one has been able to give me a satisfactory explanation for the thematic elements in this game that make no sense to me at all: having a Viking faction comprised entirely of berserkers (a legendary type of elite warrior) and splitting the Saxon side into Thegns (another type of elite that comprised a small minority) and Housecarls.

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Barry Miller
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When I read that three of the players in your 4-player group agree that this game sucks, my first thought is that you might've gotten a rule wrong... Probably the Turn Order (misunderstanding the sequence of the Leaders Phase is the usual culprit).

But after reading the remainder of your review, I'm comfortable in concluding that even if you did get a rule wrong and were to play it correctly, you would still not like the game no matter what. That's OK. There's no accounting likes/dislikes. (After all, your post has already received several "Thumbs Up", so you're not alone).

So do yourself a favor... if you disliked this game as much as you did, then don't even bother playing 1775: Rebellion, or 1812: The Invasion of Canada, or 1754: Conquest – The French and Indian War. You and two other members of your group will also be sorely disappointed with those games as well.

Though after re-reading your post, it sounds like you've played '1775'... so a lot of the things you dislike about this game shouldn't be a surprise for you, right?


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Bill Buchanan
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my disappointment began when I first saw a copy of the game (bought retail - I had to wait another month before receiving my Kickstarter copy).


I have a feeling this first sentence might tell us a lot here ...
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Agree with Barry.

Fwiw, the dice system goes back to 1812.
Not inspired by some other Viking themed game.

Geographic divisions for factions would ruin the game and misses the point.

Yes, you may be stuck playing the only movement card on your hand.
The random turn order is a core element.

Playing your best game with what you have, when you get it, is the core principle of what makes the game fun... for those who find it fun.
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Anton Nieuwkoop
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janos_hunyadi wrote:

A smaller number of larger figures would at least have made some sort of sense from both an aesthetic and functional point of view. The KS exclusives of the "wooden" (not real wood) card holders and treaty board look okay but perform no useful function.


The figures could have been larger, but the size was mentioned during the kickstarter (a few times actually), I like the fact that every faction has it own figure (thank to the stretch goals) I also like the kickstarter exclusives. Everybody can buy and play the game without missing some extra's. But the cardholders are functional en have a nice artwork (although I agree on the "real wood" part) the treaty board is a nice extra and the leader movement tokens are very functional when we play to keep track of movement. Same for the Saxon navy tokens (who could have had some better artwork)
I agree on the cards. The quality is not that good with the different back colors being the biggest problem.

Quote:
Theme: poor. There are relatively few thematic elements: names of the Viking leaders, names of the cities and seas (the Anglo-Saxon is a nice touch), and the event cards.

The whole gameplay is very thematic I think. Invading vikings while english forces try to hold them off. The fyrd cards with different amount of troops. You never knew how much would show up. The different factions with their own strength and weakness, the initial placement of forces (the north wasn't that strong)
What would have made this game more thematic?

Quote:
Game play: this is the hardest to judge from a single play but.

The games I played where almost all very tense with lot of interaction between the players of the same side and when battling. I like the asymmetrical part of the game with attacking vikings, defendig English and the different amount of dice and symobols. Yes, luck in involved but that's the same with other games in this series. But just storming in with the vikings and battle around doesn't give you victory. Strategy plays its part in this game.

Overall: you have the right to judge the game as you like, but I think the game deserves more credit than this review.

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I always felt that the AG game engine is designed for two players, the four player is an alternative option if you really want to play the game with a group of people. Similar to War of the Ring - to play it with 4 people is possible but the game really shines with just two player.
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Bård Holst
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I actually think this game has a lot of theme but it's coming more from how the game plays than cards an narrative.
The way the Vikings pour into England every turn with massive armies and how the different units have different dice with varying degrees of hit results is in my opinion very thematic to how this actually happened in real life.
The nine or so smaller expansions that can be added to the game also brings a lot of theme.

If the game only came with cubes there would be people complaining why there wasn't any minis in the game. So this was added to please a growing demand of minis being used in games rather than wooden cubes.
I do agree that the figures are small and can be difficult to stand sometimes but I think they're pretty awesome little figures as well.
I actually got the wooden cubes for the game as well which are easier to use but not as nice on the table.
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Lee Troutman
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As always, to each their own. This is a hobby after all.

You mentioned 2 things I totally agree with though. I found the minis to be more trouble than they were worth and I promptly replaced them with cubes. And I've never had much use for the treaty boards or the card holders. In both cases I've found them to be totally superfluous, adding nothing to the overall experience (in all of the "Birth of..." games).

Otherwise, I love the game and I'm very happy with it. It's the same system tweaked for the period, with new cards and a new map. That's exactly what I was hoping for, and that's what AG delivered. I'm a little surprised that someone already familiar with the system wouldn't like 'Vikings', but it's clearly possible.

If you elect to sell or trade it, you probably won't have much trouble getting rid of it.
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Gabriel Conroy
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He called it a first impression and that's what it is, fair and square. Nobody ever complains when positive first impressions are posted.

This game was always going to be no more than a light wargame, only loosely connected to the historical events, just like the previous games in the series.
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Scott Moore
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bgm1961 wrote:

When I read that three of the players in your 4-player group agree that this game sucks, my first thought is that you might've gotten a rule wrong... Probably the Turn Order (misunderstanding the sequence of the Leaders Phase is the usual culprit).

But after reading the remainder of your review, I'm comfortable in concluding that even if you did get a rule wrong and were to play it correctly, you would still not like the game no matter what. That's OK. There's no accounting likes/dislikes. (After all, your post has already received several "Thumbs Up", so you're not alone).

So do yourself a favor... if you disliked this game as much as you did, then don't even bother playing 1775: Rebellion, or 1812: The Invasion of Canada, or 1754: Conquest – The French and Indian War. You and two other members of your group will also be sorely disappointed with those games as well.

Though after re-reading your post, it sounds like you've played '1775'... so a lot of the things you dislike about this game shouldn't be a surprise for you, right?



I didn't think that the game "sucked". I gave it a rating of '5', which means "mediocre". Two of the players gave it a '3' ie. "bad". The fourth player did not express an opinion, though he didn't seem to enjoy it.

The random turn order is the one thing that one of the players intensely disliked about the game. It is random, is it not? Apart from the very first turn when black goes first?

I played '1775' once as did another of the player. I rated it a '7' and the other player '5' - so we both thought 878 Vikings was a couple of points weaker. However, we did play '1775' 2-player, which I think might make the difference. We just can't understand why Vikings is a 4-player game - there are just no thematically-derived reasons for more than 2 players and mechanically it also seems to make for a dull game.
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Scott Moore
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WBuchanan wrote:
Quote:
my disappointment began when I first saw a copy of the game (bought retail - I had to wait another month before receiving my Kickstarter copy).


I have a feeling this first sentence might tell us a lot here ...


Yes, it tells you that I was very disappointed with receiving my copy of the game 3 months after the date given in the KS campaign. I would not KS an Academy Game product again. But it has no bearing on my view of the game itself, which is a lot less negative than my view of the KS campaign.
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Scott Moore
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phormio wrote:
I'm a little surprised that someone already familiar with the system wouldn't like 'Vikings', but it's clearly possible.

Well, I'm not sure that playing 1775 once makes me "familiar with the system". But it is, of course, possible for someone to be familiar with the system and not like any of the games. I may have been too generous with my rating of 1775. On the other hand, I played 1775 2-player. I believe that could make the difference. Someone above mentioned WoTR - I think that is great 2-player but I'd never consider playing it 4-player. If that is the case with the Birth of America/Birth of Europe series then it is unfortunate that I played 878 Vikings 4-player, because maybe we would have got some enjoyment out of a 2-player game.
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Bloody Cactus
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I agree with a couple of poihts. I got cubes with my KS and prefer them much more over the mini's. I find the tiny figures too fiddly.

Also my cards backs were also terrible. cut too much left, right, different shades of colours, some had the cardback compressed, so the borders were larger etc. (I posted on the KS some of the problems. it was pretty bad).

The map might be a bit bland, but I like it that way personally. I don't want a game map that is so bright or so layered with icons and detail that its a pain stacking cubes on that you cant see it, or so bright in colour that it slaps you in the face. The is more background material than foreground to me, so I think it works well with its muted colour palette.

I do agree with you that its really a two player game than a 4 player game!
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Scott Moore
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antoi wrote:
[q="janos_hunyadi"]
The whole gameplay is very thematic I think. Invading vikings while english forces try to hold them off. The fyrd cards with different amount of troops. You never knew how much would show up. The different factions with their own strength and weakness, the initial placement of forces (the north wasn't that strong)
What would have made this game more thematic?


We'll have to disagree on the issue of the gameplay being thematic. I think that most of the game play is not thematic. The fact that the system was ported from the Birth of America series suggests that it is not very thematic, because 9th century warfare was very different from 18th century warfare in a number of crucial aspects. Personally, I don't mind a game not being thematic if it is a good game. But in this case, I was looking for more theme as I have a soft spot for early medieval England and Scandinavia.

Many, many things would make for a more thematic game. But theme is clearly not the raison d'etre of this series. 878 is a simple game, with simply rules and is quick playing. One of hte players commented to me today that is felt like Risk. He doesn't like Risk and so, in retrospect, it is easy to see why he didn't like this game.
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Scott Moore
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BloodyCactus wrote:
The map might be a bit bland, but I like it that way personally. I don't want a game map that is so bright or so layered with icons and detail that its a pain stacking cubes on that you cant see it, or so bright in colour that it slaps you in the face. The is more background material than foreground to me, so I think it works well with its muted colour palette.

I do agree with you that its really a two player game than a 4 player game!


Bland is not the same as muted. I agree that a muted colour palette is best. But there could have been some decorative elements to the land areas.

I cannot judge whether it is better 2 or 4 player as I haven't played it 2-player. In my opinion it does not work as a 4-player game. Others have commented that they prefer it 2-player, which is why I suspect that I might do too.
 
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Scott Moore
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"Geographic divisions for factions would ruin the game and misses the point."

The division of factions into "Berserkers" (who appear only in the sagas and are probably legendary) and "Norsemen", "Thegns" (a tiny fraction of the English warriors) and "Housecarls" makes no sense to me. It did not ruin the game for me - but it did for another player, who just regarded it as silly. What exactly is the point of this division? Is it just a case of applying some names to a purely abstract division? Or is there any thematic justification for it?
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Dave in Ledbury wrote:
A first impression is not really suitable to use in a review, and can give people a false impression of how the game really plays.
The original poster is entitled to an opinion, yes, but could have probably best have put this thoughts in as a game comment.

The moderators seem to have a very relaxed view of what a review should looks like......


I didn't call it a review, but made clear in the title that it is my first impression. Both I and moderators believed that the 'review' category was the most relevant forum. Many reviews of games these days are made after only a single play - you can certainly judge the components, artwork and rulebook after only a single play. The fact that there were so few existing reviews of the game - and those being positive - also encouraged me to put this in the review section to represent a different set of opinions about the game.

I did originally write this as a comment, but it is far too long for that. No one else has written anything of this length in the comments.
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I was one of the players who gave it a 3, which was generous. The game was bilge. It really was absolute tripe. The rolling back and forth the dice was dull and the difference between blue and green factions so miniscule as to be barely worth the characters in this sentence.. The component quality was embarrassing.
I have not seen a serious company produce such pathetic miniatures, and the cards were horribly miscut and inconsistently coloured. The cardholders were fine but not a component I require. The treaty board was entirely superfluous. I can't see any reason to go beyond this simple broad brush analysis as to do so would be to admit it is something that warranted serious critical consideration. I would play it again, if I was paid no less than £85 per hour for my time, but beyond that I could foresee no circumstance where I could be persuaded to do so. That was my review of 878 Vikings, let us never speak of it again.
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meshuganater wrote:
The game was bilge. It really was absolute tripe. The rolling back and forth the dice was dull and the difference between blue and green factions so miniscule as to be barely worth the characters in this sentence.. The component quality was embarrassing.
I have not seen a serious company produce such pathetic miniatures, and the cards were horribly miscut and inconsistently coloured. The cardholders were fine but not a component I require. The treaty board was entirely superfluous. I can't see any reason to go beyond this simple broad brush analysis as to do so would be to admit it is something that warranted serious critical consideration. I would play it again, if I was paid no less than £85 per hour for my time, but beyond that I could foresee no circumstance where I could be persuaded to do so.

No, really, don't hold back... tell us how you really feel!

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I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. I originally got 1775, as the app, which impressed me enough that I bought both boardgames, 1775 and 1754. Now those are some big beautiful maps! Although those two games share many elements, they do play differently. I had some idea of what I was getting into when I bought 878 and am delighted in how it plays differently from the others. History is very subtle in these games, and the gameplay also works off of small differences. Although the factions are differentiated through the dice and some of their event cards, they are cooperative, so 2-player or 4-player, makes very little difference, as they can move and fight together on either faction’s turn. Of course, in a 4-player game, you’ll have final decision half as often, but working cooperatively means you always have input. Although I like having full control of my side, I also like working together to find the best solution to the problems on the board. Rolling these dice are very satisfying, both good and bad. Knowing the limits and the nice surprises in the decks, as well as the luck of the draw for turn order, are all part of the satisfying experience of playing these games, for me. As someone who researches games before purchase (so I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be getting), I was not disappointed.
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Jim F
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US backers got theirs more or less on time. Then a long delay while the rest of the boxes swam across the Atlantic.

I thought 878: Vikings – Invasions of England was a very lazy design. Basically Risk with a couple of twists. Risk is a very popular game and I have no quibble with that - each to their own. Personally, I want more out of a wargame.
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Dave in Ledbury wrote:
janos_hunyadi wrote:
Yes, it tells you that I was very disappointed with receiving my copy of the game 3 months after the date given in the KS campaign. I would not KS an Academy Game product again. But it has no bearing on my view of the game itself, which is a lot less negative than my view of the KS campaign.


Sadly Scott, I have to inform you that most Kickstarter projects are delivered after their predicted dates in the campaign. Three months isn't all that bad - probably about par. I've had waits of upwards of a year beyond the predicted dates for some KS projects.


I don't have much of a problem with delays on Kickstarters (or P500's) as long as we are kept informed, it's not like we don't have other games to play while we wait. What was/is annoying about 878 is that Academy allowed the game to go into full retail in the EU before most of the EU backers had received their copies (I still haven't got mine). Academy's 'not our fault', 'out of our hands', 'it was Gloomhaven', 'it's really hard publishing games', 'there's a lack of migrant workers' responses have been pathetic - will it colour my first play of the game, well I will try not to let it but, inevitably, yes it will, as it will need to be stellar to take away the bad taste.

Anyway - this review was billed as a 'first impression' so seems fine to me - if the OP had framed it as somehow 'definitive' then sure, have at him, but what's there seems valid opinion. Here's hoping I fair better with the game than he did (although I'm a bit worried as I hate Risk), if it ever turns up.
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Lee Troutman
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[disclaimer]The following question is not an attempt to derail this thread. It is a actual question, posed (or posted if you prefer) here because the OP's attention may be drawn hither.[/disclaimer]

So any word on TWWE?
 
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Bård Holst
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meshuganater wrote:
I was one of the players who gave it a 3, which was generous. The game was bilge. It really was absolute tripe. The rolling back and forth the dice was dull and the difference between blue and green factions so miniscule as to be barely worth the characters in this sentence.. The component quality was embarrassing.
I have not seen a serious company produce such pathetic miniatures, and the cards were horribly miscut and inconsistently coloured. The cardholders were fine but not a component I require. The treaty board was entirely superfluous. I can't see any reason to go beyond this simple broad brush analysis as to do so would be to admit it is something that warranted serious critical consideration. I would play it again, if I was paid no less than £85 per hour for my time, but beyond that I could foresee no circumstance where I could be persuaded to do so. That was my review of 878 Vikings, let us never speak of it again.


Wow, has this game wronged you in some way.
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Nusferatu wrote:
meshuganater wrote:
I was one of the players who gave it a 3, which was generous. The game was bilge. It really was absolute tripe. The rolling back and forth the dice was dull and the difference between blue and green factions so miniscule as to be barely worth the characters in this sentence.. The component quality was embarrassing.
I have not seen a serious company produce such pathetic miniatures, and the cards were horribly miscut and inconsistently coloured. The cardholders were fine but not a component I require. The treaty board was entirely superfluous. I can't see any reason to go beyond this simple broad brush analysis as to do so would be to admit it is something that warranted serious critical consideration. I would play it again, if I was paid no less than £85 per hour for my time, but beyond that I could foresee no circumstance where I could be persuaded to do so. That was my review of 878 Vikings, let us never speak of it again.


Wow, has this game wronged you in some way.


Or, he just didn't like it, for the reasons stated.
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