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Subject: Vikings: A Review rss

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Kristen McCarty
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Vikings are known for being great warriors, but they are also known for being great explorers. In "Vikings" players become great explorers, but still need that fierce viking spirit to fend of attackers and defend their discoveries.

Goal of the Game

Players are a exploring Vikings of islands near your homeland. Once discovered other will settle the islands and make new homes. The most successful player will win.

Contents / Set-Up


There are certainly a lot of components inside the box. Both the components and the artwork is of the highest quality and they work together to create a fulfilling game experience.

To start out there are eight square cube player markers (2 of each color, ivory, orange, light brown, dark brown), One is used on the game board to keep track of their score. The other one is placed on the player's homeland to show their player color. These homelands are the starting point for the player. One is included for each player.

There are also 45 coins, 20 silver 1 gold, 15x5 bronze gold, and 10x10 yellow gold. I wish the colors had been reversed for the 1 and 5 coins, but the numbers on the coins are large and you won't mistake the colors. The amount of gold a player receives depends on the number of players. When there are two players they receive 30 gold, 25 gold with 3 players, and 20 gold with four players.



There are 76 total tiles. 62 are the island tiles and 14 are ship tiles. The start tiles each have a different back-side from the other tiles, it has a Viking meeple outline on the back. Each player receives one start tile. The rest are returned to the box. This tile is added to a player's homeland on their first turn.

The other tiles are shuffled and placed into 6 stacks of 12 tiles each face down. These are placed on the 6 places on the game board. The game board needs a bit of assembly before your first game. The Wheel needs to be attached. The game board has supply space for the tiles and special tiles, the wheel with spaces for the tiles and Vikings next to it, and the scoring track to record the players' victory points.

There are 78 viking meeples, 13 of each color. The blue meeples are fishermen, yellow goldsmiths, green scouts, red nobles, black warriors, and grey boatmen. All these are placed into the cloth sack and mixed thoroughly.



The players choose a start player who takes the start player token (a stand up Viking ship) and place it in their area next to their homeland.

Each player also gets a scoring summary.

Playing the Game

The game lasts 6 rounds. During each round, one of the tile stacks is used. At the start of each round lay out the 12 tiles with 12 Vikings. The start player places the tiles around the wheel according to the following:

- the first island drawn is placed on the 0 value space, additional island tiles are placed on increasingly costly spaces (e.g. 1, then 2, then 3, and so on)

- the first ship tile drawn is placed on the value 11 space, additional ships tiles drawn are placed on decreasingly costly spaces (e.g. 10, then 9, then 8, and so one)



Next, the 12 Vikings are drawn at random and sorted by color. These are placed on their places around the wheel. They are placed starting at zero and moving clockwise around to 11, one color at a time. They are placed in the following order: blue fishermen, yellow goldsmiths, green scouts, red nobles, black warriors, and finally all of the gray boatmen. If there are no Vikings in a color, it is skipped.

Now, in clockwise order, players take turns acquiring tiles and Vikings, one set at a time, both are added to their homeland.



When all 12 tiles and Vikings have been taken, the round ends with scoring. What is scored depends on the round:

- After the 1st, 3rd, and 5th rounds is a small scoring with goldsmiths

- After the 2nd, 4th, and 6th rounds is a large scoring (all but blue)

- After the 6th round, there is also a final scoring (special bonuses)

Acquire Set (Tile and Viking)

Each player must acquire and pay for 1 set. They must pay the cost, in gold coins shown next to the wheel. The set is then added to their homeland. This continues until 12 sets have been acquired.

- A player may only acquire the set at space 0 on the wheel, when the Viking there is the only Viking of that color still on the wheel. Otherwise they can take any they can afford.

- On his turn, a player must always a set. If they don't have any coins or have insufficient coins, they must take the o set.

- A player may, at any time, exchange victory points for coins at a 1 to 1 rate. They must move their scoring marker back 1 space for each coin, they can't move below 0. A player may not have negative victory points or money!



Move the Wheel

After a player has acquired a set, if there is no 0 the wheel is moved so that the first set on the wheel is at 0. Therefore, all prices are reduced.

Place Tile and Viking

The Different Rows

All tiles acquired must be placed adjacent to the base or to an already acquired tile. There is one row for each type of Viking. In each row a player may place any number of tiles.



Placing a Tile

During their turn, a player acquires one set. A ship tile must be placed in the first row, next to the ship picture on the homeland. The first ship can be placed in any of the three columns, future ships must be placed next to another ship. A ships cannot be placed in columns 4+ until columns 1-3 are filled.

When a player acquires an island tile they must place it according to the following rules in one of the other five rows of their homeland.

- When placing an island tile, the player must place it so at least one of its sides is touching either another tile or the base. Touching only diagonally doesn't count.

- All island tiles have specific orientation and can't be placed upside down.

- If a player places a tile to the right or left of another island tile, a newly placed island tile must match either sea to sea, or land to land (or sea to base).

If a tile can't legally be placed, it is discarded and the viking is put next to the boatman graphic on the base.

Note: When a player places the first ship or island tile on his homeland, he places the start tile at the same time. The order of isn't important.



Placing a Viking

When the player places an island tile in the row the matches the color of the Viking from the set the player may place the Viking on the island. It cannot be placed on a different tile in the same row or any row. Once placed it stays. If not placed it is put next to the boatman graphic.

When the island tile is put in a row not matching the viking it is put next to the boatman graphic. The do not need to place the island tile into the row matching the viking, even if possible.



When a player acquires a Viking with a ship tile, he must place the Viking on his base next to the boatman. When a player acquires a boatman Viking, he must always place it on his base next to the boatman graphic.

Scoring

When there are no more tile/ Viking sets around the wheel, it is time for a small or a large scoring. Players earn points or gold for their Vikings.



Small Scoring

The small scoring occurs at the end of rounds 1, 3, and 5. A player earns 3 gold coins for each goldsmith on the island as long as it is not threatened by a ship.

Large Scoring

The large scoring occurs at the ends of rounds 2, 4, and 6.

The player take turns in clockwise order, beginning with the start player, executing actions and scoring. They score the Vikings from top to bottom.

1. Boatmen: At the beginning of a large scoring, the boatsmen may move Vikings to the islands. 1 boatman can move all Vikings of one color or 1 Viking of each color form the base to empty island tiles. Rules for placing Vikings must be followed. A player may use as many boatsmen as they wish. Vikings can't be moved among the islands. Used boatsmen are discarded.

During the third large scoring (after the 6th round) each player must use all boatsmen that they can to move any remaining Vikings form the base to the islands.



2. Ships: A ship threatens vikings on islands directly below the ship. The effect of the threat extends to the row that matches the color of the ships sail. Threatened Viking do not earn points. To show this the viking can be laid on its side.

3. Warrior: A warrior stands below a ship stops the threat. Vikings below the warrior are not threatened and give the player points and coins.


4. Noble: For each noble on an island tile, the player earns 2 victory points.

5. Scout: For each scout on an island, the player earns 1 victory point and i point for each goldsmith or fisherman, below a scout.

6. Goldsmith: For each goldsmith on an island tile, the player earns 3 gold coins.

7. Fishermen: The fishermen supply the Vikings with food during the end of the game. In a large scoring they count for the scout.



Next Round

After the scoring, the first player token is passed to the next player and the next round begins with the tile placement.



Final Scoring

After the six stacks of tiles have been used and the third large scoring is completed, players perform the final scoring as follows:

Ships: For each ship not repelled by a warrior, the player must give up the value shown on the ship - in coins or victory points. If a player has to give up coins, but has none left, he gives up victory points instead on a 1 for 1 basis.

Gold: For each 5 gold in coins the player gets 1 victory point, scored turns are returned and the rest are kept.



Boatsmen: The player with the most boatsmen left gets 10 victory points. In the last large scoring each player must use as many boatsmen as he has to move Vikings from his base to empty islands.



Completed Islands:
The player with the most completed islands earns 10 victory points. If there is a tie, each earn 7 points. The islands don't need to be occupied.

Longest Island: The player who has the longest completed island (most tiles) earns 5 victory points.

Over and Under Supply: Each player counts the number of vikings he has (both on islands and his base, including remaining boatsmen). All Vikings must be supplied with fish to eat. Each fisherman standing on an island that is not threatened by a ship can supply himself and 4 other vikings with fish.

For each additional Viking the fisherman could supply, two victory points are earned. For each Viking that isn't supplied the player loses one point.

Game End


After the final scoring, the game ends. The winner is the player with the most victory points. If there is a tie the player with the highest value in coins is the winner. If there is still a tie the players rejoice in their shared victory.



My Thoughts

Vikings is a great game that unfortunately is a bit hard to find, because it is out of print. Since Z-Mann and Hans im Glück announced their new partnership there has been a lot of call to reprint the game. I hope that happens because it is truly a joy to play.

Tile placement games are always a weakness of mine. They are a lot like putting a picture together without knowing what the puzzle is supposed to be. At games end you have created a small world, which is unique every time you play. Vikings isn't about conquering or pillaging, it's about exploring and discovering so tile placement really fits that theme.

The components are beautiful, I love the different colored Viking Meeples and how they are used in the game. I'm not thrilled with the wheel, since putting it together means the board won't lay flat in the box. We never did put it together and instead lay it on top and it works fine. Even the back of the board has a picture of a viking ship, I love when companies do that.



There is a lot of luck in the game, but planning and strategy is still very important. Tiles and Vikings come out randomly so being the starting player certainly gives an advantage. You are first to choose your island / Viking combination. Getting the right island tiles and planning your homeland is important. There have been a few times where I had to set my island piece aside because it wouldn't work. I hate doing that. You also need to be careful with your funds. Without gold you will have a hard time getting the best islands. You never want to take victory points away for gold even if the option is available to you. I like that the prices for the sets change during the round as players choose and Vikings of one kind are taken. I especially like taking that 0 set whenever I can.

While placing your tiles and Vikings you need to watch which round it is. I like the three unique types of scoring used. It adds both a bit of tension and relief to the game. Tension because you may want to focus on protecting your goldsmiths for the small scoring or getting the right combination of scouts, fishermen and goldsmiths for a large scoring. Relief because you know you don't need to worry about fishermen to the final scoring.

For that final scoring you also have to keep in mind how many islands you are creating and how large they are. Getting the start and end pieces is not always the easiest thing to do, you do need to be a little lucky. The ships can also be a bit of a problem if you don't have the warriors to protect your land. If you do, the islands can be a great source of victory points and gold. Oh, and now you also need to worry about having enough fishermen to supply your Vikings, even the ones not on the island.

The game play simple and quick, but the decisions are deep and strategic. Luck plays a part, but it can be mitigated by careful game play and planning. Watching you homeland grow as your Vikings discover and settle new land is fulfilling and fun. The three types of scoring keeps the game interesting as players make decisions based not only on the current round, but that final end scoring.

Advanced rules involving auction and special tiles are also included but since I usually play the game two-player auctions rarely work. I really hope to see this game reprinted one day, because it really is unique.



Quick Stats:


Designer: Michael Kiesling
Artist: Harold Lieske, Michael Menzel
Players: 2-4
Publishers:Abi, Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH, MINDOK, Rio Grande Games, Smart Ltd
Time:60 minutes
Ages: 10 & Up
Mechanics: Auction / Bidding, Tile Placement

Photo Credits: Steve Duff (UnknownParkerBrother), john aminass (whoami), Svetlana (LanaDove), Tom Delme (tdelme), Scott Petersen (scottredracecar), Antony Hemme (Toynan), Rik Van Horn (Rokkr) (3), Ender Wiggins (EndersGame), I love Auction/Bidding games (allenj82), Ender Wiggins (EndersGame) (2), Tom Delme (tdelme), Antony Hemme (Toynan), Guilherme Estevao Goulart (Galender) john aminass (whoami), Antony Hemme (Toynan), Karen Messenger (cmessenger)


Thanks for taking such beautiful photographs and sharing them with us!
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Andy Andersen
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Great review. You should make a link to all of your reviews. Thanks.
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mukul patel
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Indeed the Photos are excellent. The auction variant is worth doing really takes a lot of luck out of the game and adds a huge amount of skill and judgement in.
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Treacherous Cretin
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I'll second that...the advanced rules, special tiles, viking colour placement rules etc all add up to a game with whole new levels of strategy even with just 2 players.

Nice review, very in depth.
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Eric Knauer
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xcrun55 wrote:

Advanced rules involving auction and special tiles are also included but since I usually play the game two-player auctions rarely work.


I agree the auction variant is unnecessary but the special tiles are essential in my opinion and greatly reduce the luck and create much more tension. Without them, I rate the game a 7; with them a 10.



Quote:
You never want to take victory points away for gold even if the option is available to you.


Definitely not true with the advanced rules when spending VP's is often beneficial.
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david landes
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Great review.
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Simon Woodward
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Nice review! But I think it's a bit rose-tinted - weren't there any "cons" to the game? I initially enjoyed this game, but after a few plays I got bored with going through the motions. Sure there are some decision to be made, but the luck is pretty big, and the theme-mechanic binding almost non-existent.
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Kristen McCarty
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Orangemoose wrote:
Great review. You should make a link to all of your reviews. Thanks.


Thanks Everyone and I'll work on that Andy, maybe I could make a Geeklist or something. I do think that the biggest issue with the game is luck, you could have the best strategy ever, and because of where you sit you get nothing you can use, and that can create a very bad gaming experience. It could really turn a player off the game.
 
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Eric Knauer
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xcrun55 wrote:
Orangemoose wrote:
Great review. You should make a link to all of your reviews. Thanks.


I do think that the biggest issue with the game is luck, you could have the best strategy ever, and because of where you sit you get nothing you can use, and that can create a very bad gaming experience. It could really turn a player off the game.


See the auction rules that allow bidding for turn order. Played with those, the luck is minimal.
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Russ Williams
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Orangemoose wrote:
Great review. You should make a link to all of your reviews. Thanks.

FWIW, from a user's profile you can see their contributions, including reviews:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/browse/boardgame/0?username=...
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Kristen McCarty
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Orangemoose wrote:
Great review. You should make a link to all of your reviews. Thanks.


I've made a geeklist of my review her A Game Built for Two (and sometimes more) Game Reviews if anyone is interested, thanks again!
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Andy Andersen
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xcrun55 wrote:
Orangemoose wrote:
Great review. You should make a link to all of your reviews. Thanks.


I've made a geeklist of my review her A Game Built for Two (and sometimes more) Game Reviews if anyone is interested, thanks again!


Thanks
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Geir Sune Østmoe
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eknauer wrote:


Quote:
You never want to take victory points away for gold even if the option is available to you.


Definitely not true with the advanced rules when spending VP's is often beneficial.


Not true with the original rules either, especially in 2P games where you should always keep in mind that "if I don't get this tile, my opponent will get it." I once used 5 VPs in order to get hold of the last boastman, and I would have spent more if necessary. The reason was simple: I saw that the last boatsman would decide who would end up with most boatsmen. Essentially, the boatsman was worth 20 VPs: Since I got it, I earned the 10 VPs for most boatsmen. If my opponent got it instead, he would have got the 10 VPs.

Otherwise, great review!
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