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Subject: First Play, First Thoughts - Yggdrasil rss

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Caleb Smay
United States
Dayton
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Yggdrasil is a cooperative game set in the world of Norse mythology. I am a fan of Norse mythology(though I have never taken the time to sit down and study it as much as I would like) which is what drew me to the game. From what I have read, it seems to hold quite true to its roots. But does that tranlate into a good game?

Rules and Setup
In Yggdrasil, players will be taking on the role of Norse gods trying to beat back monsters that are invading Asgard. There are 6 of these monsters and each one will do something different when they move(see 'Gameplay). As the monsters get farther and farther into the city, it becomes more and more difficult to knock them back. Also, if a certain numbe of monster move past a certain point, the players lose the game.

There are three decks of cards. One is the deck that controls which monster moves. Each player draws the top card from this deck at the startof their turn. For our first, we played with the easiest deck by removing - per the rules - certain very powerful cards from the deck. This deck is then shuffled and placed next to the board. To win the game, you have to get through the entire deck without the monsters getting too far into the city.

The second is a deck of 'Ice Giants.' When one of the monsters moves, a certain number - there will bemore as this monster moves farther into the city - will be drawn and placed near the board. The 'Ice Giants' can cause all kinds of trouble because they will sometimes make monster harder to defeat or prevent the players from using certain areas on the board. But a good thing about them is that they each a piece of a rune that if fully assembled, will give the players a great benefit.

The last deck is weapon cards. These cards are not shuffled and are placed face-up on the board. Each weapon will give you a bonus to your combat when fighting a specific monster. There are 3 levels. You can only take a level 1 weapon to begin with. On a later turn, you can exchange it for a level 2 then finally a level 3 of the same type(works against the same monster).

There are 4 bags, each a different color, that correspond to islands on the game board. These are islands the Valkyries can travel to summon the spirits of the dead to aid the gods in their fight. However, there are also 'Fire Giants' in these bags that will prevent you from gaining any warriors. Each bag has a different ratio of warriors to 'Fire Giants.'

Gameplay
A mentioned, each god you can play as in Yggdrasil has a different special ability. So I will first list the god and their special ability.
Thor - +1 to all combat rolls.
Odin - On his turn, can look at the top two cards in the monster deck and decide which one goes into affect. The other is place back on the top or on the bottom of the deck.
Freyja - Can perform the same action twice on one turn.
Frey - Has 4 actions(all other gods have only 3).
Heimdall - Can pull 4 tokens from a bag instead of 3(see below).
Tyr - Tyr may roll the die twice any time it is called for and choose which result he wishes to use.

And now, for the monsters and what trouble the cause you.
Loki - Draw 'Ice Giants' cards. The number drawn depends upon his place in Asgard.
Fenrir - Players HAVE to use their actions until Fenrir is calmed. To do this, you roll the die and have to get a certain side. The frather into the city he is, the harder this is. This is truly annoying because if the player who draws the card cannot calm him, the next player als has to spend their actions to do it until it is done.
Hel - Removes a certain number of warriors from a random(die roll) bag.
Surt - Places a certain number of 'Fire Giants' into a random bag.
Nidhogg - When he moves, he pulls whichever monster is furthest back one spac forward. If these is more than one, the players choose.
Jormngand - Causes the suken island token to move to a random island. While the island is sunk, the Valkyrias cannot summon warriors from it. Also, the Valkyrias are reset to the beginning of the island track which is bad because the first few island only have a few warriors to start with while the farther island had more warriors and fewer giants.

As mentioned, each player has 3 actions. The following are the actions players can take on their turn.
-Fight a monster. To do this, you roll a 6 sided die. Two sides are blank, two sides have 1 sword, one side has 2 swords, and one side has 3 swords. To push a monster back, you must roll a certain number(5, 6, or 7 depending upon whre they are in Asgard). You may discard warriors before ou roll or elves after to add to this number.
-Take one elf. There are, however, a limited number of elves in the game(number of players+1).
-Gain a weapon(explained above).
-Fight an 'Ice Giant.' All 'Ice Giants' required a 3 in combat to be defeated.
-Move Fanir's token up one space or take the action at his level or below and reset him to the beginning of his track. Since this secton of the review is already quite long, I will not go into an explination of each of these things. Suffice to say, they are saved our butts more than once.
-Exchange forces(warriors and elves) with another player.
-Take 5 warriors and put them into the bag of your choose.
-Draw 5 tokesn from a chosen bag. Discard all 'Fire Giants' drawn this way and place all warriors back in the bag.
-Move the Valkyrias one space. You may then draw 3 tokens from the bag corresponding to the island they are on. Keep any warriors drawn and place any 'Fire Giants' back into the bag.
(Sorry for writing an entire book, just wanted to cover everything.)

So, as you can see, there is lots to do in Yggdrasil. And all of these things are important to winning the game.

Components
Excellent quality components. The elves, warriors, monsters, and 'Fire Giants' are all tokens that are printed on very nice stock. The cards are very hardy and durable. The game even came with 2 rubber bands for the cards and a plastic bag for all the chits. Brilliant I tell ya!

Only real complaint I have about the componets is that everything has a symbol. There is nothing printed on the cards themselves to tell us what to do. However, after playing through the game once or twice, you will have pretty much everything memorized.

Another thing I would have liked to see are tokens for the players to place on what actions they have already taken. It was not a big deal, but a handful of times we had to tink back on what we had already done so as to know we could not do it again. Like I said, not a huge deal.

Final Thoughts
Excellent game! You are constantly trying to figure out not only what needs to be done on your turn, but also how to help out your buddies on their turn by stacking a bag with warriors or getting rid of something that could be a real hindrance to them but is doing nothing to you. And the monsters constantly marching forward really gives you a sense of dread and needing to hurry. None of the powers seem broken and they do fit the gods and monster they belong to nicely. This game is the perfect mix of theme and mechanics. A must buy for any gamer!

/

EDIT: Corrected some spelling errors.
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Paul S
United Kingdom
Leeds
West Yorks
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DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT?
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Nice review. I agree with all of it, I think. I'd add only that it gets increasingly difficult as you add players.

Great game.
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Loren Cadelinia
United States
Sacramento
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Very nice review. After multiple plays, I have found that certain enemy gods are quite strong, and others not as strong (and that's OK!), but Hel in particular does not feel like a threat. In fact having Hel go quite far on the track actually helps you fish vikings out of bags, so that later you place them in any bag you want.

I have been playing with a variant where any vikings that Hel removes from bags, get removed permanently from the game. This isn't a game changer, but definitely prevents abuse of Hel's power. I like to tinker, so this variant isn't for everyone, but I think yggdrasil is one of those thematic games that could work well with various house rules in a bunch of different difficulties.

Anyways, great review!
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Jacob Elfving
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Randers C
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RhinoBarbarian wrote:
I am a fan of Norse mythology


May you end in Asgaard to amuse yourself all day by fighting other men and drink in the big hall.
And to hold court at the Well of Urd, beneath an ash tree, Yggdrasil, debating the fates of men and gods.




Nice Review
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