Vikings on Board: The economic side of Pillaging
Winter's descending on us, and nothing says winter like Scandinavia and those wacky Vikings. At least, that's what I was told when I was handed this game.
Whereas most games based on Vikings (or the romanticized depiction thereof) tend to focus on things like fighting and glory and gaudy drinking-songs, Vikings on Board is a tense planning and betting game based primarily on the shipping of various goods and betting on the strongest of Vikings with barrels of brew. Gaudy drinking-songs might be included at the player's discretion, but it's still overall a more tactical and cerebral take on Viking boardgames.
The gist of the game is fairly simple, and it doesn't take long to learn the rules: Over seven or more rounds, each player (representing a Viking 'clan') works on building seven ships and stocking them with various commodities by placing workers and moving ship-pieces. The order of player-turns is randomly determined at the start of a game, but is then determined by the actions the player takes, with more beneficial actions putting them later in turn-order in the next round. As well as this, players can also bet on who wins the 'majority' of the ship - building a ship whose majority of shields on the side correspond to a particular player's colour - with barrels of brew. As ships are completed and set sail with their goods (presumably to pillage, as all good Vikings should), both the commodities on board (whose value can be manipulated by canny players) and successful bets earn points for the players which then determine who is victorious at the end of the game.
Vikings on Board is marketed as a family game, and while the subject of Supply-Side Economics might seem a strange topic for family gaming and for a Viking-themed game, the concept works extremely well in practice, with a ruleset that's easy to become accustomed to and a pleasant mixture of unpredictable twists and rewarding of planning ahead, bringing many tactical considerations into a game including things as simple as who goes first in a round.
On a more cosmetic scale, Vikings on Board is an incredibly well-made boardgame, with well detailed miniatures and 3-dimensoinal ship-pieces made from sturdy cardboard really making everything pop out and immerse the player. The general aesthetic is a pleasantly cartoonish take on Vikings, giving an identifiably Nordic feel to the game whilst remaining family-friendly in its presentation. Everything is lovingly crafted and very sturdy in construction, and the box comes with an insert that flushly holds all the pieces for easy setting up and packing away.
Overall, Vikings on Board is a fantastic tactical boardgame whose deceptively simple rules hides a surprising wealth of options and twists, and easily keeps its two-to-four players entertained for a good hour per game. This game is definitely something worth keeping on the shelf for the upcoming winter, and will have you enjoying yourself enough to consider a rousing night of pillaging* for you and the whole family.
- James Alflat, on his way to Valhalla
(*IQ Games does not condone or endorse the act of travelling to foreign lands or neighboring houses and violently liberating valuables from indigenous locals, and we accept no responsibility for the consequences of attempting to do so. For more information, speak to IQ representative Loki Tobleronefjord.)