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Subject: Teaching Vikings 4-player style. rss

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Paula Webb
United States
Ashland
Oregon
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This is my very first quick session report in what I hope will be at least a weekly report on my games played.

This weekend I played a 4 player game of Vikings at the local Library game night hosted by the wonderful and generous
Christopher DeFrisco
United States
Ashland
Oregon
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Ah, negative. I am a meat popsicle.
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.

The other players were my son (Ian), his girlfriend (Jessie), and her father (Jim). All of the players involved are somewhat familiar with strategy board games as I have been introducing them to new games as often as possible and have thus far not scared them away. They are all fairly quick studies so I figured this wouldn't be too hard of a game for them to grasp and they all seem to prefer to jump right into games rather than spend a lot of time going over and over rules. My son had played Vikings a handful of times and I have played many games live and on both BSW and Yucata. I usually play 2 or 3 player games so this was one of only a couple of 4 player Vikings games I had ever played.

We sat down pulled out the game and I explained how the auction wheel worked; what each of the different Vikings and ships did, how to place the island tiles and the Veeples they came with and the difference between big and small scoring rounds. I also let them know they could use victory points as gold (since it took me a while to remember this) and how the end game scoring worked. I felt that was really all I needed to cover in terms of "teaching" the game rules and play so we were ready to begin. All together I think the rules explanation took roughly 5 minutes and they were all satisfied with their ability to play and understand the game. Since no one asked any questions about gameplay during the game I suppose I gave a complete enough explanation for them to "get it".

I decided not to go into a lot of strategy talk as I wanted them to understand how the game was played first and I know everyone at the table prefers to figure out their own strategies as they go along and decide what they think feel works or doesn't work for their play style. Since it was still a learning game I decided to pass up on a fisherman piece during the first round so the next person could get it and then I explained that normally it was important to grab fisherman every time they could to make sure there was enough fisherman to feed their Veeples at the end of the game and suggested they always grab one unless they had a really good reason not to. I also pointed out the need to try to always have somewhere to place a new island tile if possible.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the game and I am sure they will ask to play it again. Too bad it is so hard to find a copy as I don't actually own one myself so we were using the hosts copy and I don't think he will be giving it away anytime soon.

I did end up winning and Ian came in second which illustrates that this is certainly a game in which the more experienced players are most likely to win. I appreciate/prefer that happens in games myself as I believe it indicates a level of skill is needed rather than just blind luck. This session also confirmed for me what I already suspected from my other 4 player games of Vikings; that I much prefer Vikings as a 2 or 3 player game and do not feel that it scales well for 4 players. In the future I will not suggest playing it with 4 but I am sure I wouldn't turn down a 4 player game if asked.

As a 4 player game it just feels like there is too little of everything to go around and the fact that the last player gets fewer turns going first than the other players do is clearly not well balanced.

I must say even with 4 player Vikings is one of my favorite games and I can't see that changing anytime soon. I definitely recommend Vikings to those looking for an easy to teach fun 2-3 player game.
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Andy Andersen
United States
Michigan
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Thanks for the report. I have only played Vikings with 2 and agree that 4 looks like too many players. Fantastic game.
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Craig Liken
New Zealand
Christchurch
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Agree on the comments about 4 players - we really love this with 3, but it can be very tough with 4. 2 of the players only get one go at starting (which seems somewhat unbalanced). It is also quite hard to plan on what you might get. As you say the fishermen are vital, and sometimes in 4-player you can struggle to get your share of them without seemingly doing anything wrong.
 
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