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Subject: Stormgate Reviews: Yggdrasil rss

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Chad S
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Hello, and welcome to the next entry in a series of reviews, collectively called StormGate Reviews. These reviews will not concentrate on the specifics of how the games work, but rather a brief overview of the main mechanics, how people who play the games receive and enjoy them, how they look, and lastly, my own thoughts. Any edits are to fix grammatical or spelling errors. To see other reviews in the series, Click Here!

Intro:

Ygdrassil is a co-operative game wherein the players, acting as the "good" Gods from the Scandinavian and Norse mythlogies, try to fend off "evil" Gods and monsters from reaching Odin's home and bringing about Ragnarok.

How It Looks and What's In The Box:

The artwork of this game is pretty bland. All the colours sort of blend into one another, and the components are mediocre at best. All the tokens are faceless, boring, single colours, and the box is pretty boring.

This is what I would say if we lived in bizarro world.

The game is beautiful. If Z-Man games ever decides to release a print of the game board, I would buy it, frame it and hang it on my wall.



The picture doesn't do it justice. The blacks are dark and deep, contrasted with the various, rich colours throughout the world tree. It is an absolutely stunning work of art.

The character cards are large and well drawn, also doubling as a player board for each player.



There is a seventh player, Frigg, that is a promo card, and it can be tracked down and obtained for a modest price.

Each player, of course, has a special ability.

There is a set of tokens for the elves, vikings and fire giants, several decks of cards representing various things (the bad guys, more bad guys, weapons, etc) and the odd miscenaeous token, all of which maintain the same level of detail, vibrant colour and quality. The Frost Giant deck of cards even has all the giants named uniquely, and all with names out of Norse mythology. While in play, the Frost Giants augment the game in many different ways, always bad for the players. For example, they can prevent players from recruiting Vikings, or increase the evil Gods and Monsters strength. I'm told that for the most part, even their abilities are similar to what they do in the myths. Even if that part isn't true, it's an incredible production.


Behold the weapons! The Blue one, second from left, is Mjolnir.

How it plays: 75 to 120 minutes, including teaching the game.

The game plays over a series of 2-part turns. During each player's turn, the first thing they do is draw from the Enemy deck, performing various "bad things." The God/Monster pictured on the card moves up on the main track, moving ever closer to Odin's house, and then something bad happens. Frost Giants come into play, a player loses one or more of their 3 actions, one of the 4 realms of Midgaard becomes flooded, or other such mean things to hinder the players.

Next, the player gets to perform his 3 actions. He can try to recruit vikings from one of the 4 realms of Midgaard - this is accomplished by reaching into the appropriately coloured bag and pulling out some tokens - keeping any vikings, and putting back any annoying fire giants. Alternately, a player can try to remove fire giants from the same 4 realm bags, putting back any Vikings. A player can trade with other players, recruit elves, buy/upgrade weapons for battling the evil gods, battle the evil gods themselves (using vikings), fight the frost giants, move up a special actions track - all sorts of things.

Rinse and repeat until you either run out of Enemy cards (Yay! You win!), or the enemy Gods move too into Asgard (Boo! You lose!).

The object of the game is to completely drain the Enemy deck of cards, while preventing all the evil Gods and Monsters from going too far to the right in Asgard (the God track). The players lose if too many of the evil gods make it too far to the right in Asgard, or if even 1 of them makes it to Odin's house and isn't smacked back down the track on the same turn that they made it to the house.

There is a custom die that doubles as a combat die and a die to determine which realm of Midgaard (aka coloured bag) is used for drawing Vikings/Fire Giants, and several other uses.

On top of all of that, there are extra cards that can be added into the God deck that increase the difficulty.

How it was received:

The first time my core group played this game, it was pretty much a slaughter. We got destroyed. Not to be dissuaded, we went at it again, and changed one rule to make it easier - this turned out to be a both a blessing and mistake, as we won without much issue, but really learned how the game nuances work.

From here I played the game solo. Yes, it does support solo play. I played it once with 4 of the 7 good Gods, and won 3 out of the 4 games I played. At this point I was confident that our group would do better.

The third game with the group was played with 4 players, without adding any of the difficulty cards, and we -barely- squeaked by with a victory. Mistakes were made, sure, but at least we know what we're doing by this point.

Everyone loves it.

I have since played it a half-dozen more times, with different grups, each time with 2 extra difficulty cards, with either 3, 4 or 5 players, and we're at about a 50% win ratio. Every single person I have played this game with loves the game.

My core group, consisting of the kind folks over at The Gamer's Table have had a blast playing it.

My thoughts:

I love it. It's a truly co-operative game, where you either win or lose as a group. It's a marvel to look at - I have played in a local game store, and at least a dozen people came over to take a look at it, with one person buying it. Needless to say the store owners were happy about that.

It's a hard game to win, but that just makes it all the more satisfying when you actually do.

The game really picks up in intensity the longer its played - it seems like for the last third of the Enemy deck you are on the verge of losing the game, every single turn, and it really gets the adrenaline pumping.

The only possible downside is that some people don't like to play co-operatively, and prefer competition. The only competition in this game is with the game itself.

Even the box looks great.



Thor battling Jormungand. Such a bad ass creature.

Bottom line:

A co-operative game that is as fun after 10 plays as the first, with variable difficulty levels (it even gets harder with the more players you add!), dripping with theme and gorgeous art, this game belongs in any gamer's collection.

Score: 9/10.
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Andrew MacLeod
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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TyrionXavier wrote:
The Frost Giant deck of cards even has all the giants named uniquely, and all with names out of Norse mythology. While in play, the Frost Giants augment the game in many different ways, always bad for the players. For example, they can prevent players from recruiting Vikings, or increase the evil Gods and Monsters strength. I'm told that for the most part, even their abilities are similar to what they do in the myths.


It's true! There are a few that I'm still trying to figure out the connection (if any), but most have some connection to the actual myths, even if it's not obvious at first. For example:
-Thrym: increases the Jormungand's strength by one. "Wait a sec! What has Thrym to do with the Jormungand? He stole Thor's hammer, which in Yggdrasil, is used to fight against the Jor.......ooohhh, I get it!"
-Utgard Loki: cancels the power of the gods. In the myths, he pulls one heck of a fast one on Thor, the only frost giant to outwit him successfully.
-Angerboda: increases Hel's strength by one. She's the wife of Loki and one of their offspring is....Hel.
-then there's Hrungnir and Geirroed, who block access to the Elf World and the Dwarf World, respectively. "Hold on: there's next to nothing about these two bozos in the myths, just that they're unusually large....and in Yggdrasil, they're blocking access to the elves and dwarves, the little guys. Ooohhh, I get it!"
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
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jflartner
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Nice opening..you totally had me..."What? Should I even finish reading this?? He thinks THAT board is bland??" hahaha I laughed out loud at work.

Thanks for the review! Can't wait to crack open my copy!!
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Justin Moore
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Quote:
The first time my core group played this game, it was pretty much a slaughter. We got destroyed. Not to be dissuaded, we went at it again, and changed one rule to make it easier - this turned out to be a both a blessing and mistake, as we won without much issue, but really learned how the game nuances work.


Curious as to what you tweaked in that second game.

We found a key to success bing keeping good track of how many of each enemy card has come up, so that if An enemy has come up 5 times and is still before the 3 line, they will never cross the 1 so it might not do much to combat that enemy.
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Jimmy Okolica
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How much does this game suffer from one (knowledgeable) player telling everyone else what to do? I love Pandemic solo but shy away from playing it with others for just that reason. Will I have the same issue with Yggdrasil?
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Snowball
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Gender: pot*ato. My opinion is an opinion.
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I think the best or worse compliment you could do to this game is to compare it to Ghost Stories.
Its look is just as gorgeous, and I dislike just as much - but my friends who love Ghost STories love this as well.
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Bryan Maxwell
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Nice review!

TyrionXavier wrote:


The artwork of this game is pretty bland. All the colours sort of blend into one another, and the components are mediocre at best. All the tokens are faceless, boring, single colours, and the box is pretty boring.


At this point I was thinking "Geez, what does this guy want?"

TyrionXavier wrote:


This is what I would say if we lived in bizarro world.

The game is beautiful. If Z-Man games ever decides to release a print of the game board, I would buy it, frame it and hang it on my wall.


There ya go.

Well played, sir.
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Doug Bass
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Thanks for the great review thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup. Confirmed for me that I made a wise choice buying this. Your review makes me really want to play soon... gotta get it to the table!

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Andy Andersen
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Although this game has no interest for me (don't know why), this was a great review and I may have to re-think my position.

Thank you.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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HavocIsHere wrote:
I think the best or worse compliment you could do to this game is to compare it to Ghost Stories.
Its look is just as gorgeous, and I dislike just as much - but my friends who love Ghost STories love this as well.

I loved Ghost Stories from my first play, but my initial impression of Yggdrasil was that it isn't quite as interesting. That's after only one play, though, so take my comment with a grain of salt. I need to play more before making up my mind.
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Justin Moore
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My favorite part of the game mechanics is the manipulation of the island bags in order to improve your chances of pulling out Vikings. It'd be like if you could take dirt out and put more artifacts in the bags in Thebes.
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James Derbyshire
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Great review. I'd never heard of it, but ordered the game straight away because of the review!! whistle
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Russell S.
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I am very much considering picking this one up. I have not played Ghost Stories but I like the theme of Yggdrasil more. That and I already have too many games that cap out at four players and often many more at my game nights.
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My plays of this also are reminiscent of "Ghost Stories". Same feel. Same desperation. Great, dark artwork that makes play nearly as immersive as an RPG.
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Chad S
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Thanks for the kind words, everybody. I appreciate the replies.

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