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Subject: Sacred Land (Vanaheim) and Valkyries (Midgard) Variant rss

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David Gregg
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First off, my friends and I love Yggdrasil, it is by far our favorite coop and is played at nearly every one of our get togethers. However, we've noticed a couple issues that we house rule, so figured I'd share our solutions here:

Sacred Land (Vanaheim)

Problem: The actions lists aren't worth the number of actions needed to use them. The first action, moving the valkyries costs 2 actions and doesn't gain you any vikings, when you could simply spend a single action at Midgard to move the valkyries and gain vikings. The 2nd action of gaining 2 vikings straight from the World of the Dead is a good action, but too costly at 3 actions. Likewise the 3rd action of rearranging the top 6 enemy cards is good, but too costly at 4 actions. The 4th action of moving back an enemy is a great action, but not at 5 actions. The 5th action of defeating an ice giant seems misplaced as it takes less combat to fight one compared to an enemy, but costs 1 additional action to reach.

Solution: First off, remove the valkyries from the track completely. Then rearrange the actions to:
* Pull 2 vikings from the World of the Dead
* Rearrange the top 6 cards of the enemy deck
* Defeat an ice giant
* Move an enemy 1 space back

In addition to this, merge the 1st and 2nd space as well as the 3rd and 4th. In this way, it costs 2 actions to either pull 2 vikings or rearrange the top 6 cards. For a cost of 3 actions, you can use any of the available actions.

Comments: We've been playing this way lately and love the change. The Sacred Land gets used frequently now, but is not so powerful as to sway the game and is often an opportunity to defeat 2 ice giants or move back 2 enemies in a single turn.

Valkyries (Midgard)

Problem: There's no real reason to go beyond the white island, as you can concentrate on "purifying" the bag of all its fire giants and then simply use it for guaranteed vikings.

Solution: Remove the valkyries from the game completely. When you want to visit Midgard, simply choose a non-sunk island and pull vikings from that bag. When the whirlpool is face up, you cannot pull vikings from the island that the whirlpool is on or any island to its right.

Comments: This lets the players take more risks with which bag to pull from as the black bag is harder to "purify", but will give a better ratio of vikings at the start of the game. Since players won't need to focus on "purifying" the white bag, the bags are far more likely to retain some fire giants and the actions of Hel and Surt will be much more influencing on the players' choices. Furthermore this makes the ice giant that creates the whirlpool that much more dangerous as it severely limits the island choice and potentially makes the islands completely unusable.

Final Thoughts

Prior to these 2 changes we felt that the Sacred Land was near useless, almost never using it and the valkyries seemed to encourage abuse via "purifying". Now with these 2 changes we make great use of all 9 available actions and take more interesting risks in Midgard. We decided to mix in the angry enemy cards as well as all of the ragnarok cards to see how much these house rules influenced the difficulty of winning the game and we are happy to report that we didn't even make it through 2/3rd's of the deck.

If anyone else gives these a try I'd love to hear feedback and see what everyone else thinks of these. I'm also planning to design an image for printing on a sticker sheet for overlaying the Sacred Land and would be happy to post to BGG so long as the designers/publishers don't mind.

Edit: clarification about whirlpool
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Justin Moore
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There is no reason to go beyond the white island? Huh? with a 6/12 viking/giant ratio at the beginning of the game, you'll have to spend a lot of actions to get the bag where its worth drawing from. instead of wasting those actions, move the valkyries and use vanaheim to help. thats why that action in vanaheim is so useful, because you can basically jump to the blue island on the first turn.

I'm also confused as to how you consider it 5 actions to move an enemy back. It costs 4 actions to: Move the valkyries, get 2 vikings, rearrange the cards, and drive an enemy back. you get all that for 4 actions. Not sure why you are saying it costs so many actions to do those things.

I too enjoy the game. After about 7 plays or so, I find it just perfect the way it is.
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David Gregg
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feydjm wrote:
There is no reason to go beyond the white island? Huh? with a 6/12 viking/giant ratio at the beginning of the game, you'll have to spend a lot of actions to get the bag where its worth drawing from. instead of wasting those actions, move the valkyries and use vanaheim to help. thats why that action in vanaheim is so useful, because you can basically jump to the blue island on the first turn.

It only takes 3-5 actions (depending on how lucky you are) to deplete all of the fire giants, while it takes 4 actions just to get to the black bag only to be reset back to the rainbow island via Jormungand. Since you'll be using the white bag a lot throughout the game, it just makes sense to use a few actions early on to purify it so that you'll have good draws late game, but once purified there's no reason to move beyond it. Also, see below regarding Vanaheim.

feydjm wrote:
I'm also confused as to how you consider it 5 actions to move an enemy back. It costs 4 actions to: Move the valkyries, get 2 vikings, rearrange the cards, and drive an enemy back. you get all that for 4 actions. Not sure why you are saying it costs so many actions to do those things.

According to the rulebook, when you use the Sacred Land action you may either advance the Vanir 1 space forward or you may move him back to the starting space to use 1 of the actions. That means you'll need to spend 4 actions moving the Vanir up the track to the enemey space, then a 5th action to reset him and activate the action. Also, the rulebook says you may only use 1 of the actions from the reinforcement track, you don't get all of them as you've said. So should you spend 4 actions moving the Vanir up the track, you could then spend a 5th action to either: move an enemy back, rearrange the top 6 enemy cards, gain 2 vikings from the World of the Dead or move the valkyries 1 space without gaining vikings.

Edit: wording
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TS S. Fulk
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We use Vanaheim a lot with the right mix of Aesir. With the wrong mix, it gets ignored.

You've just made Jormungund much weaker (even weaker that he was) and ruined the whirlpool giant's ability.

Big J can be very annoying when he sits on the white island and you go and clean up the blue or green island. Then moves again and puts the valkyries back to the beginning. If the whirlpool guy comes up (or is up), you're screwed without the help of the Vanir. You're version loses all that tension.

I see no reason to change the game, but since I've done that with other games (Witch of Salem), I can't complain about you doing it for this game. whistle

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Andrew MacLeod
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feydjm wrote:
There is no reason to go beyond the white island? Huh? with a 6/12 viking/giant ratio at the beginning of the game, you'll have to spend a lot of actions to get the bag where its worth drawing from. instead of wasting those actions, move the valkyries and use vanaheim to help. thats why that action in vanaheim is so useful, because you can basically jump to the blue island on the first turn.

I'm also confused as to how you consider it 5 actions to move an enemy back. It costs 4 actions to: Move the valkyries, get 2 vikings, rearrange the cards, and drive an enemy back. you get all that for 4 actions. Not sure why you are saying it costs so many actions to do those things.

I too enjoy the game. After about 7 plays or so, I find it just perfect the way it is.


I almost entirely agree with your post, Justin. However, one cannot "basically jump to the blue island on the first turn". You can either move the Vanir one space on a turn, or activate one of the Vanir icons, not both. Thus, the Vanir icon that allows you to move the Valkyrs is only useful if an island is submerged, and you want to get to the island beyond it on the same turn. BUT, it can't be used on the first turn, since you had to use the Vanaheim track that turn just to move the Vanir forward!
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David Gregg
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tssfulk wrote:
We use Vanaheim a lot with the right mix of Aesir. With the wrong mix, it gets ignored.

I just don't see why you would ever want to spend one of your few actions in Vanaheim as you have to spend more actions for the effects.

Compare: normal Vanir:
* Move Valkyries: 1 action, usually get vikings 2 actions, never get vikings
* Take vikings: 2 actions to move vikings from World of Dead to bag and then move Valkyries to pull up to 3 vikings 3 actions to gain 2 vikings from the World of Dead
* Rearrange the top 6 cards of enemy deck: not normally possible takes 4 actions to do this
* Move an enemy back 1 space: up to 4 actions depending on if you're low on vikings, elves or weapons 5 actions to use Vanir
* Defeat an ice giant: up to 3 actions depending on if you're low on vikings or elves 6 actions to use Vanir

So compared to just using the other available actions, the Vanaheim is just very inefficient. With a game like this, efficiency is king, thus why I think it is broken.

tssfulk wrote:
You've just made Jormungund much weaker (even weaker that he was) and ruined the whirlpool giant's ability.

Big J can be very annoying when he sits on the white island and you go and clean up the blue or green island. Then moves again and puts the valkyries back to the beginning. If the whirlpool guy comes up (or is up), you're screwed without the help of the Vanir. You're version loses all that tension.

I've edited my post to make the whirlpool bit more clear, as my whirlpool rule is the same as the original rulebook, just worded differently to reflect the other change. As for making Jormungund weaker, the main problem with him is that he encourages the players to abuse the Kingdom of Fire ability to purify the white bag. Even if the white island is submerged, it's easy to take a couple actions to purify the blue island. We never move to the green or black islands as it's almost impossible to stay out that far long enough to purify the bags. I mean, why bother moving that far to risk those 3 fire giants when you can just spend a few actions early on to make the white bag even better then the black?

With that in mind, we don't usually even consider Jormungund's ability a threat as we can just go right back to the white island and continue abusing it. The only time he's an issue is if the whirlpool comes up on the white island and we just make that a top priority to remove again, so no biggie.

tssfulk wrote:
I see no reason to change the game, but since I've done that with other games (Witch of Salem), I can't complain about you doing it for this game. whistle

Indeed, most games we play, we use the rules as written, but sometimes we just feel that some bits are broken. It's no fun when part of the game never gets used or is abused due to the way it's supposed to work.
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Mathue Faulkner
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As far as Vanir goes, one major reason we use the Ice Giant effect is because we can choose which Ice Giant to defeat. Thus, we can activate the runes when they're most beneficial to our strategy. That can be HUGE. We rely heavily on the runes, and usually activate them all by the end of the game.

Also, used to defeat an enemy, the Vanir tracks allow you to push back two enemies in one turn. This can be the difference between a win or a loss in the end game, especially with higher numbers of players. It's kind of like storing up actions when things are good so that they can be used when things get tough....

Edit: Grammar
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David Gregg
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mfaulk80 wrote:
As far as Vanir goes, one major reason we use the Ice Giant effect is because we can choose which Ice Giant to defeat. This, we can activate the runes when they're most beneficial to our strategy. That can be HUGE. We rely heavily on the runes, and usually activate them all by the end of the game.

I can see your point, but we prefer to simply attack them to defeat the top giant as we can defeat 2 giants for the same action cost as using the vanir once.

mfaulk80 wrote:
Also, used to defeat an enemy, the Vanir tracks allow you to push back two enemies in one turn. This can be the difference between a win and loss in the end game, especially with higher numbers of players. It's kind of like storing up actions when things are good to be used when things get tough....

Right, but you only have 3 actions per turn and while working as a team it is almost always best to spend your other 2 actions elsewhere.
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Chris Berger
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Each action on the Vanir track takes approximately one more action than you achieve it through other means. The benefit of the track is that you have flexibility and also for some things the ability to do something twice on the same turn. Also, the push back an enemy spot - you can spend the entire game not getting Nidhogg's weapon, and let him get all the way to Odin's house (so you get one time of pulling his card without him activating), and use the Vanir track to push him back - saves actions throughout the game and lets you not rely on the die roll when you really, REALLY need the push back. The real point of the track is to build up to either push back an enemy or get a rune of your choice, meanwhile you use the other actions only if you have to, and that's where the flexibility comes in.

It really doesn't need to be "fixed". Nor do the Valkyries. The first game we played, we tried the "load up the white bag" strategy. After losing pitifully, the next game we found that using the green and black bags is far superior.

Also... second poster in this thread played 7 games without anyone in the group learning the rules??? Wow!

(edit: I'm certainly not saying you can't play your variant - obviously you can do what you want, it just seems totally unnecessary and like you're missing the point...)
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TS S. Fulk
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We mostly use the push back an enemy slot. There are times when you MUST push back 2 enemies to avoid a loss. Without the Vanir, only Freyja can do that.

arkayn wrote:
Each action on the Vanir track takes approximately one more action than you achieve it through other means. The benefit of the track is that you have flexibility and also for some things the ability to do something twice on the same turn. Also, the push back an enemy spot - you can spend the entire game not getting Nidhogg's weapon, and let him get all the way to Odin's house (so you get one time of pulling his card without him activating), and use the Vanir track to push him back - saves actions throughout the game and lets you not rely on the die roll when you really, REALLY need the push back. The real point of the track is to build up to either push back an enemy or get a rune of your choice, meanwhile you use the other actions only if you have to, and that's where the flexibility comes in.

It really doesn't need to be "fixed". Nor do the Valkyries. The first game we played, we tried the "load up the white bag" strategy. After losing pitifully, the next game we found that using the green and black bags is far superior.

Also... second poster in this thread played 7 games without anyone in the group learning the rules??? Wow!
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David Gregg
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wow, so this thread made me realize I've been playing the sacred land wrong. We've been moving and then taking the action for one action, not moving it back after. So the only time you really had a wasted action there was when you wanted to move it back.

So, I will suggest this as a variant, because it works for us and solves pretty much every problem you mention above!
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Brian M
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I don't think the early actions on the Vanaheim track are supposed to be fully worthwhile. If every action on the track was a good action, there would be very little tension about whether or not to push the track up. As is, you want to push it up for the high effects. Being able to use it in an emergency for a smaller effect is a potentially useful benefit that you probably don't want to use, but is still there for an emergency.

I think you've undervalued the top two spaces. Pushing an enemy back under good circumstances takes roughly:

1) About 1/2 an action to get the weapon to a +3. We'll assume 3 actions to build up the weapon which will then be spread out over 6 attacks.
2) About 1/2 an action to add vikings to a bag later in the game.
3) About an action to get vikings from the bag. You might not use them all, but you might not get as many as you need with one pull anyway. We'll just lump actions to get rid of Fire Giants in here.
4) One action to actually attack the enemy.

So, 3 actions to push an enemy back by attacking - the same as your proposed change.

However, this is in good conditions. If the enemy is near the end of the track, you need a lot more vikings. And if an enemy advances into a spot that will make you lose, you won't always have the luxury of having the player who actually has the weapon attack.

The Vanaheim track lets you bail out of these emergency situations (or plan for these situations so you can ignore a particular enemy and save actions that way). It also lets you "bank" spare actions when you have little useful to do.

The top spot is great. Completing a rune at the time you need it is a fantastic advantage, as opposed to trying to wade through fire frost, I say FROST giants one at a time getting pieces of runes that don't complete.

This variant would definitely make the game a lot easier - though one could always compensate by adding more Ragnarok/Angry cards.

You can, of course, play your game however you want

EDIT: As pointed out below, I'm a twit and meant frost giants, not fire giants
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Quote:
as opposed to trying to wade throughfire giants oneata time


Frost giants right? Anyway I agree; this variant sounds like it would make things easier. We haven't played enough to decide if it needs difficulty adjustment. We've won once though so its no ghost stories.
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I guess I dont understand the motivation to make one realm/action into a core mechanic instead of using it for its intended purpose. Just because you feel like it doesnt get used enough? There is a reason it doesnt get used much with standard rules, but there's also a reason to use it occasionally. its not supposed to be used all the time.

Sacred Lands is a back door so that the game doesnt screech to a halt even if areas are disabled by giants, whirlpool, etc. Its cost is appropriate for being a work-around rather than you're "Plan A" path to success.

Why break the core game just to make a track counter, arguably the most boring mechanic known to man, more valuable than it should be?

btw, if you have time to sit and purify the white bag you've made the game too easy.
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world eater wrote:
btw, if you have time to sit and purify the white bag you've made the game too easy.
purifying the white bag doesn't need more actions than moving to the better bags. it also holds much less risk and much higher long-term benefits.
 
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Chuckhazard
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letsdance wrote:
world eater wrote:
btw, if you have time to sit and purify the white bag you've made the game too easy.
purifying the white bag doesn't need more actions than moving to the better bags. it also holds much less risk and much higher long-term benefits.


Although Jormungand is less likely to sink the green and black isles.
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chuckhazard wrote:
letsdance wrote:
world eater wrote:
btw, if you have time to sit and purify the white bag you've made the game too easy.
purifying the white bag doesn't need more actions than moving to the better bags. it also holds much less risk and much higher long-term benefits.


Although Jormungand is less likely to sink the green and black isles.


Come to think of it ALL the bad stuff is more likely to happen on the white and blue isles - surt adding giants and hel removing vikings.
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