Vikings is a true example of why you should never judge a game by it’s box. With a name like “Vikings,” and artwork displaying burly men with armor and axes invading a distant shore with their dragon crested ship, you would expect a certain game experience. Something involving war, pillaging, and maybe even an invocation of a thunder god or two. This is where Rio Grande Games proves you wrong.
I came across this game over at the Geek. Vikings has mostly received negative ratings, but it was the review by a young girl that attracted me to the game. Whereas most players were dissatisfied with the implementation of the theme, she argues that the theme fits well with actual history of the vikings.
Instead of dwelling on the warlike impressions of Norsemen, Vikings focuses on the positives. The Norse were, more than anything else, explorers. This is the crux of the game. As you play the game you are laying down tiles in a mostly horizontal line to construct islands. Your workers are then placed on them to score points and other benefits. There are six rows to each players personal board that represent the six unit types. Fisherman supply your population with food, Goldsmiths earn you money, Rangers and Nobles garner points, and Warriors protect them all from warships that will negate and steal points or gold. The boatsman is a unique piece that will let you place excess workers who have yet to find themselves on the board.
All of this is managed by the most interesting part of the game. The Auction Wheel. There are twelve spaces numbered 0-11, that represent the cost in gold of the peice that lies there. Land and Workers are placed as a pair in each space, increasing in value and demand. Once a zero cost pair is taken under special conditions, the zero spot moves to the next available pair, decreasing the cost of everything on the wheel. Its an interesting mechanic to handle resource creation without dice, and is the best way to create an unfavorable situation for the opponent.
This is easily one of my favorite Euro-style games. I meant to write an impression of it a few months ago when I first picked it up, but we have been playing the game so feverishly lately that I felt a full review is in order. It is easy to learn, fast to play, and has well made components. All of the hallmarks of a game that I would recommend as a BUY. That is unfortunately made difficult since it is now out of print, but any FLGS worth their sea salt would be able to track down a copy.