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Subject: In-depth review and some thoughts about theme rss

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Maik Hennebach
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After several dozen games, I can safely say that this is my favorite game of the 2007 crop so far, and that warrants some words about why I like it that much. While I was racking up games, most of them two player, others already got busy and wrote fine reviews of the game which I’ll use as a welcome excuse not to go over the rules in detail (I’ll also nab the most excellent term "Veeple" from one of those reviews). Instead, I’ll talk about strategy, replayability and theme. So this, in short, is not the review that tells you how to play Wikinger, but why you would want to play it.

The Basic Game and the Genius of the Viking Wheel

Faced with a new Eurogame, any gamer worth his salt will automatically skip the basic rules and go directly to the advanced game. And usually, he won’t be wrong, because usually the basic game is just an introductory affair aimed at folks who are graduating up from Monopoly and Risk. And the "advanced" game is, for all wants and purposes, the real game.

Wikinger breaks that mold, however, so I’d recommend starting out with the basic game because it’s a full and rich game all by itself. And chances are that the many additional choices, nuances and constraints of the advanced game will only add playing time and (perceived) chaos when they are inflicted on somebody new to the game.

So, let’s look at what the basic game offers. Your first one or two matches will probably mainly revolve around the placement of tiles and Veeples, which has some neat ideas sprinkled all over it: having to pick a combined offer of tile and Veeple makes for some interesting choices, and the ferrymen are an elegant and unobtrusive way to fix bad choices or to overcome bad tile draws.

If you’re like us, you’ll have your hands full enough with this that you won’t devote a lot of thought to what the other players are up to, and the interaction will be limited to occasionally snatching a tile for yourself that would have benefitted somebody else too much. At this stage, Wikinger does not amount to more than an intricate, but more solitary version of Carcassonne.

And then, it happens: just like when you understand that Puerto Rico is not about choosing a role that will help you the most, but about gauging what your opponents are going to choose and how your choice is affecting them, you discover that good play in Wikinger hinges on the gold wheel, and this is where interaction and strategy reside.

On a tactical level, the mechanism of the wheel does several things that give a quite unique feel to this game: you know right at the start of a round what tiles and vikings are available, and you know how many of those you’ll get (3, 4 or 6, depending on the number of players). You also know their relative prices, or at least you might think you do, because this is where the fun begins: should you go for that single ferryman right now, paying a hefty 11 gold, or should you wait a while in the hope that the price will go down and nobody else will take it before you do? How much emphasis should you place on saving money, anyway?

The balance of money and victory points is rather straightforward: having no money during the game is painful, since you’ll have to trade in victory points on a 1:1 basis. Rolling in cash at the end of the game, on the other hand, is not tremendously useful, since you’ll only get victory points in a 5:1 exchange. Which means that optimal play means spending exactly as much money as you have without dipping into debts. As a corollary, it also means that goldsmiths are most valuable in the early rounds and fishermen are more valuable right at the end. So don’t be afraid to spend a lot of gold for a tile/Veeple combo you urgently need as long as you still have enough to get through the rest of the round. If, however, you are short on gold and don’t get much or any income from goldsmiths, saving up some gold is very important indeed.

Important, but not trivial – while picking a combo for, say, 2 instead of 4 gold is definitely just as simple a way to save 2 gold as it should be, most players tend to misjudge the workings of the wheel when it comes around to the „free“ combo for 0 gold. Picking that one instead of the pricey 4 gold one will simply save you 4 gold, right? Well, right, but at the same time it will lower all prices for everybody else, too, and possibly even by the exact same amount you saved. So if you took the 0 gold choice only or mainly for its seemingly low choice, you will help everybody else more than you helped yourself.

Once you get a handle on the wheel with its strange mixture of pricing list and backwards auction (things will only get cheaper, never more expensive), a lot of cash is not just a means of taking optimal picks, but also a way to forcing your opponents to take stuff that won’t help them much. As an example, let’s say that during the sixth and last round of the game, the 0 gold offer is a goldsmith on an end tile, probably rather useless for all players. Accordingly, the choicier combos for low prices will get taken, and the gap between the undesirable goldsmith and other tiles is getting wider and wider. Having more money than the other players will sustain you in this situation – a some point, they’ll either have to pay precious victory points or take the 0 gold offer, thereby dramatically decreasing the cost of interesting stuff at the high end of the wheel.

With a wider view, the manipulation of the market is not only tactical, but can be part of a strategy: if you snatch a lot of goldsmiths in the first round, try to keep prices high to make that monetary advantage count. Regarding general strategy, unlike a lot of Eurogames Wikinger rewards specialization more than covering all bases. On the one hand, you can win a game with none or only very few Veeples of a color, although going without any warriors is quite a risky proposition.

On the other hand, you’ll be hard to stop if you can recruit a lot of fishermen, which actually demonstrate the emphasis on specialization quite explicitely: at the end of the game, each fisherman will feed himself and four other Veeples, and the reward for having a surplus of food is +2 victory points for each viking who gets double rations, whereas the penalty is only –1 for each hungry mouth. In other words, getting another veeple when you are in dire need of fishers will cost you 5 VPs, but another fisherman when you already have an army of them will net you 10 victory points. This trend of focused strategy beating a generalized approach is not as strong for the other colors, but I’d say it pervades the whole game.

On the whole, the Wikinger basic game provides quick, tense fun, with a lot of choices packed into the 45 minutes of play and, at least for two players, only very little luck. We played about a dozen times before moving on to the advanced game, because there was so much to learn and discover even without going the whole hog. Before talking about the whole hog further down below, I’d like to make a small excursion into Eurogames and theme, because a lot of negative comments on Wikinger, even from folks who liked the game, are about the theme, or rather the lack thereof.

Regarding the many other comments that write off this gem as just another forgettable Euro, I’ll just say that this must be the blurry vision you get from playing a game only once or twice before tearing into the next of a dozen new releases waiting on the shelves. Don’t be like that. Rather stay with a game for a while, watch it grow as your understanding of it grows and don’t call it light just because the rules are only four pages long.

Theme! What is it good for?

If you can read the subtitle above without automatically inserting a masculine grunt/shout between Theme and What, you are either a lot older or younger than I am. The answer to this question is, however, certainly not "Absolutly nothing!" but rather depends on what kind of game we’re talking about. The ideas which I’m going to inflict on you here will lead to the conclusion that Wikinger is an excellently themed game – not exactly a majority opinion, so some explanation is certainly warranted.

For this discussion, I’ll go ahead and divide the multitude of games into four groups: adventure games, wargames, eurogames and abstracts. These categories are hopefully self-explanatory and will be further defined below. I’ve ordered them by the importance of theme, but my important point here is that theme is serving different roles in each genre. By the way, the goal here is not at all to demonstrate the superiority of any one of these genres – I love ‘em all!

Adventure games, exemplified by the grandaddy Talisman, but better represented by actual games like Runebound, Cults across America or Arkham Horror, live or die with their theming. What these games offer is a developing story, unforseeable twists of fate and/or an immersive background. Weaker examples like Killer Bunnies, Munchkin or, well, Talisman do not offer much gameplay beyond the theme itself. For them, the expansions that adventure games tend to breed are a necessity rather than an enrichment.

Wargames are the ones I have the least experience with, so I might miss the mark here, but I’d say that theme is almost as important as for adventure games. The goal here, however, is not telling a story but an accurate representation of history, and to reach that goal, wargames often bring a hefty amount of procedural complexity onto the table. This is even true when the history is false, as my Starfleet Battles rulebooks can attest.

Skipping Euros for now, we come to abstract games, where my first thought was that they don’t have a theme at all and are just pure games. Obviously wrong, because Chess as a prime example of this genre is an abstraction of classical battles. And there are some modern games like Hive, Aton or every filler card game you can think of that have some kind of theme. Nevertheless, I think of them as abstracts in that theme is only cosmetic and not (or almost not – Hive is a borderline case, for example) connected to the game mechanics. This beautifying should not be underestimated, but it’s clear that theme is of very minor concern here. As a hint for later, abstracts tend to have short and simple rules.

So where does that leave the Euros, and how are they different from abstracts? After all, the disconnect between theme and game that I used to qualify abstracts is just a nicer way of saying "pasted-on theme", the very accusation leveled against Wikinger? It is rather easy to see how the viking theme fails abysmally if judged by the standards of adventure or wargames: no story, no immersion (Kevin Whitmore put this very well in his comment on the game: "When I think of a Viking game, I expect to figuratively chew on my shield, swing my virtual axe and feel the sea spray in my face.") and no historic accuracy either - whatever the vikings did to plan new settlements, it’s a safe bet that it did not involve a giant wheel of fortune being carried into the Thing.

Is it an abstract, then? Could the game revolve around sulphur mining on Frobunax III, migrating birds or, as a really fresh idea, about Venice or ancient Egypt, and still work just as splendidly? I don’t think so – apart from the gold wheel, the mechanics are very tightly connected to the overall theme of discovering new islands and getting the most out of your settlers there: scouts are more effective if they can find resources for goldsmiths and fishermen to use, ferrymen transport other settlers and warriors protect the whole bunch from enemy ships, reaping rewards of gold or glory.

Apparently there is a close interweave of theme and mechanics after all, at least in some parts of the game, but – to come back to the title – what is it good for? If you don’t want accurate simulation or exciting immersion anyway, why bother at all with a theme and not just make it an abstract? Here’s the thing: it wouldn’t work. Although it is nowhere near as complex as your average wargame, no normal person would be willing to digest all the rules, keep them in mind during play and still manage to have fun. All the stuff that flows quite naturally from the game’s background now – fishermen feeding everybody else, enemy ships attacking Veeples down a line up to the color of their sails – would be an unpalatable mess without the theme to prop it up, a chore to learn and a horror to explain.

What it boils down to is that theme in Eurogames is a learning aid, and I’m deliberately not saying just a memory aid, because it enables the best games of this genre to be very accessible and, nevertheless, complex and challenging enough to provide lots of replayability. The game mechanic itself is the attraction of Eurogames, a characteristic it shares with abstracts, but a well-implemented theme allows for a depth and intricacy that you could not pack into an abstract without overwhelming your audience: no normal person would be willing or able to play a game of abstract Goa or abstract Puerto Rico.

On the other hand, the subdued importance of theme compared with wargames and adventure games allows for unusual and original mechanics – I’ve said above that the gold wheel is certainly not a good representation of what really happened in viking settlements, but the reverse is also true: you’d be hard pressed to find a real or fantasy theme that would make a good fit to the gold wheel, and accordingly, there’d be no way to implement this nifty mechanic in a pure adventure or wargame.

So the yardstick for theme in a Euro is how well you can absorb and memorize the rules of the game, and Wikinger certainly does quite well: there was no need to look up any rules after the first on or two games, and what’s more, I don’t even need to refer to them when explaining the game to new players – all this because the whole exploration thing is done quite well, and the few things that can’t be derived from theme, like the bonus points for longest isle and so on, fit nicely onto the small player aids.

All of this does not even begin to touch the importance of theme for game design, which I guess is routinely underestimated. No more words on that, however, mainly since I don’t know much about designing games, but also because I want to get back to the review.

The Advanced Game and Decision Density

I promised above that I’d talk about the whole hog of the advanced game here - grand words which won’t be completely fulfilled, since I’m still leaving aside the snout and trotters, figuratively speaking: after one game with the complete rules, we decided that the start player auction and Veeple distribution added more time than fun and only ever used the expansion tiles from then on. Accordingly, I’ll only briefly speak about the auction when talking about how Wikinger scales with more players. But first, the new tiles.

These tiles will give you special advantages, either during the whole game or in the final scoring. Four of them are available each round, and you can get one by taking the most expensive combo from the gold wheel. Now, even without going into specifics about what the various tiles do, we can see that this changes the game in two ways: obviously, gold is becoming more important due to a new incentive to buy high, and the benefits of these tiles can be high enough to warrant spending victory points once you’ve run out of gold.

Less obviously, the enemy ships are going to be less evenly distributed – in the basic game, you usually do not take ships unless you have to (unless you have a warrior waiting or desperately need a ferryman), and so all players will get roughly the same amount of them. Now, in most rounds you will have to take a ship if you want to get the first pick of the special tiles, so if you‘ve got money to spend, better make sure that you also have some warriors in line.

And what can you get for your troubles? A lot of the special tiles will boost all your Veeples of one color during scoring rounds – goldsmiths get more gold, scouts, nobles and fishermen get (more) victory points. These tiles amplify the strength of specialized over generalized strategies, and of course you want to get them as early as possible.

Another big set revolves around the ferrymen: there are some tiles that count as extry ferrymen for the end scoring (where having the most of these guys will net you 10 victory points) and, more importantly, there are boat tiles that allow you to ship groups of Veeples like in the basic game. I should quickly explain this rule here: in the basic game, one ferryman can either ship one Veeple each of several colors, or several Veeples of one color. In the advanced game, one ferrymen ships one Veeple, period. Only with a boat tile can you ship whole boatloads like in the good old days.

Some tiles will only benefit you at the end of the game, but since these allow for whole new strategies, getting them early can be worthwhile to get the most out of them. A good example is a tile that reduces the exchange ration of gold into victory points from 5:1 to a more generous 3:1. Coupled with a goldsmith booster tile, this turns gold hoarding into a very viable strategy, which is certainly not true for the basic game.

On the whole, adding the special tiles will make the game more strategic, because specialization can reap even greater benefits, and more unforgiving – you’re more likely to run out of gold, and it’s more difficult to ferry Veeples over to the newly discovered islands due to the limited ferrymen. However, you need to be well acquainted with the basic game before you will be able to appreciate all of this, and I suspect that players who found Wikinger to be strongly luck-dependent or even chaotic jumped right into the advanced game without testing the waters beforehand.

Because to me, a big part of Wikinger’s appeal is that each of your decisions counts – there is barely an automatic play, and neither did I ever feel controlled by the tiles and Veeples available, which is the only possible way luck can enter into the game. In fact, there are elements in the game that appear to be conscious efforts to make each of your moves interesting. For example, initially I thought that the end game bonuses for the longest and for the most complete islands were unnecessary complications (and occasioned some rather lame innuendo), but they prevent meaningless moves in the end round – even if you can’t get useful Veeples in place, you can still try to go for one of these bonuses.

So I’d say that the game has an exceedingly high decision density in that you have meaningful choices available for all, or almost all, of your moves. To be meaningful, the decisions offered by a game have to be complex enough not to be trivial (as an example, I dislike most traditional card games because for the most part they can be played by rote), but not so complex that they begin to seem chaotic and uncontrollable. Which is the very reason we have so far abstained from the portion of the advanced game where you decide about the ordering of Veeples – apart from increasing game time from 30 to 40 minutes, we felt that the decisions involved were not as interesting as the rest of Wikinger.

Playing with more than two players might be a good reason to get back to these rules, however, since they allow you to make the most out of the few tiles you’ll with three or four: from a generous count of 36 tiles (and Veeples) when settling one-on-one, your portion of new islands decreases to 24 tiles for three or 18 tiles for four players. With only three tiles per round in a four-player game, every ineffective move will really, really hurt you. With more players, the chances of your plans being screwed up by the choices of your opponents also increase, and the start player auction will become a good deal more meaningful. This is especially true with four players, because you’ll have an uneven starting player distribution – not enough of an influence to seriously skew the game, but it is a noticeable effect, alright.

The Wrap-Up
I only have a dozen games with three or four players on my belt, and since most of these involved new players, we only did the basic game. Which was always fun and received very well by everybody else, too, but on the strength of these games alone I would not want to judge whether Wikinger is a great game or merely a good one.

For two players, however, I’m sure: Wikinger is excellent, a continuation of the very welcome trend of games like Attika or Yspahan that play in less than an hour and nevertheless are anything but light. Where it manages to top even these two favorites of mine is variability: especially with the special tiles in play, you can have hard games where the bitter combination of many enemy ships and useless special tiles makes you crawl through the early rounds on the skin of your teeth, or games where everybody rolls in gold due to an early abundance of goldsmiths and booster tiles.

While it does not offer glorious plunder or lobbing off the heads of irish monks, Wikinger is a game that will last you for a long time. If you haven’t tried it yet, go out and have a go, and if you already played and didn’t like it, try again – with the basic game only, this time.
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Oliver Harrison
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Possibly the best thought out review I've ever read. Well done. You've earned yourself some gold AND convinced me to go out and buy this.

Thanks for an interesting read.

Oliver
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d peruzzini
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well i couldnt read the entire review right now, but even if the theme is thin or not what some expect of the theme it has always helped me explain a game better than if the game had been left as totally abstract pieces or similar, also it gives us some nice artwork, colors etc, i dont mind a thin theme when seeing some nice artwork etc
 
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d peruzzini
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well i couldnt read the entire review right now, but even if the theme is thin or not what some expect of the theme it has always helped me explain a game better than if the game had been left as totally abstract pieces or similar, also it gives us some nice artwork, colors etc, i dont mind a thin theme when seeing some nice artwork etc
 
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d peruzzini
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well i couldnt read the entire review right now, but even if the theme is thin or not what some expect of the theme it has always helped me explain a game better than if the game had been left as totally abstract pieces or similar, also it gives us some nice artwork, colors etc, i dont mind a thin theme when seeing some nice artwork etc
 
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Maik Hennebach
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Wrevilo wrote:
Possibly the best thought out review I've ever read. Well done. You've earned yourself some gold AND convinced me to go out and buy this.

Thanks for an interesting read.

Oliver

Thanks a lot, and I don't think you'll regret the purchase - probably no surprise, given my review

Maik
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Derek Carver
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Fristly, Maik, my compliments on a superbly written review. In fact, it was more than a mere review and was clearly very carefully considered.

I would just like to add a few words on the subject of 'theme'.

I know you felt that the theme helped with this game, but all too often a game is criticised for not living-up to its theme. But it is highly likely that the theme of the game did not come from the original game designer but is one put on by the publisher. Usually one that they feel coincides with the current market 'flavour'.

Many games start out as being abstract, of course. This is something that publishers hate and they will do anything to plonk a theme on to such games, however inappropriate. The first of my games that was ever published wasn't abstract but was inspired entirely by Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, it was extremely true to D&D (but was a boardgame) - and the version that is still played here is the D&D one.

But the publisher had acquired the rights to the title of a popular TV series and did an incredible job of changing my D&D game to that theme. But I'd had nothing at all to do with it and fortunately, due to the skill of the developer, suffered no criticism of not being true to the game's theme.

- Derek
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Maik Hennebach
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Carver wrote:
Fristly, Maik, my compliments on a superbly written review. In fact, it was more than a mere review and was clearly very carefully considered.

Many thanks for the kind words! I saw from your ratings that you regard Augsburg 1520 quite highly, so if you're interested in a review that very much agrees with you - I wrote one

Carver wrote:

I would just like to add a few words on the subject of 'theme'.

I know you felt that the theme helped with this game, but all too often a game is criticised for not living-up to its theme. But it is highly likely that the theme of the game did not come from the original game designer but is one put on by the publisher. Usually one that they feel coincides with the current market 'flavour'.

Many games start out as being abstract, of course. This is something that publishers hate and they will do anything to plonk a theme on to such games, however inappropriate. The first of my games that was ever published wasn't abstract but was inspired entirely by Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, it was extremely true to D&D (but was a boardgame) - and the version that is still played here is the D&D one.

But the publisher had acquired the rights to the title of a popular TV series and did an incredible job of changing my D&D game to that theme. But I'd had nothing at all to do with it and fortunately, due to the skill of the developer, suffered no criticism of not being true to the game's theme.

- Derek

My main point regarding Wikinger's theme was indeed that I hold it to be a good example of a well themed (Euro)game and that the notion of a pasted-on theme arises more from unfair expectations than from any real failings.

Regardless of that, I'm pretty sure that an actually weak theme can often be blamed on the publisher/developer and not on the designer - there's a very interesting Geeklist by Bruno Faidutti where he presents some examples of original themes and the radical changes the theme underwent before publishing. Like your D&D / Doctor Who example, the funny thing about a lot of them is how often this works out quite well ...

Do your games usually start out as abstracts? I deliberately did not go into the importance of theme for game design in my review, but certainly not because I'm not interested; rather that I don't have a lot to say on that. At least with Warrior Knights or Blood Royale I'd be surprised if the mechanics existed before the theme did.

Cheerio,
Maik
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Derek Carver
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Maik wrote:

Do your games usually start out as abstracts? I deliberately did not go into the importance of theme for game design in my review, but certainly not because I'm not interested; rather that I don't have a lot to say on that. At least with Warrior Knights or Blood Royale I'd be surprised if the mechanics existed before the theme did.
Maik

No. All of the games I invented (including those that have never been published) began as a simulation, which was much more typical of games back in the '80s than it is now. Even 'Showbiz' that looked abstract when it first appeared was never conceived as an abstract game. I asked my children to challenge me to make a game to a TV theme. I should have guessed their answer - it was the world of pop-music 'Top of the Pops'. Had desktop publishing been available then it probably would have looked less abstract, but as it was I made use of the bits that were available to me and Hexagames replicated my privately published version. (The later Avalon Hill version made it less abstract)

Even my 'Whirlwind' didn't start out as it ended up. When the Iranian revolution blew up I decided to invent a game inspired by that revolution but replicating revolutions generally. I called it, unsurprisingly, 'Revolution' and, like my other home-made games, other folk played it and made their own copies. I then received a phone call from the US. It was from a guy who had played the game, liked it, and wanted to use it for the (I think) fourth game in the series to be published by FASA based on the James Clavell's novels - my game was to be 'Whirlwind'. He then set about most cleverly transforming my game into 'the game of the book' without changing a single rule. The project died a death due to copyright difficulties in the US as I understand. All I got out of that one was a few copies from the initial batch that had been produced. (A good thing I didn't give up my day job!)

- Derek
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Damon Thomas
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Awesome review! This was the one review that convinced me to go out and buy the game. In a matter of about 2 weeks, I've logged around 10-12 plays. Most of them are with my 9 year old son who is an avid game player (and very, very good for his age). The 2 player game is very good, and it scales well for more. We convinced my wife to join us a couple times and your review is dead on that with more players, any mistake is magnified.

Great game, my favorite of 2007 by far!
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Robert Rossney
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Quote:
at the end of the game, each fisherman will feed himself and four other Veeples, and the reward for having a surplus of food is +2 victory points for each viking who gets double rations, whereas the penalty is only –1 for each hungry mouth. In other words, getting another veeple when you are in dire need of fishers will cost you 5 VPs, but another fisherman when you already have an army of them will net you 10 victory points.

I think you mean 8 victory points, since the fisherman has to feed himself. Even so, that's a pretty substantial reward.
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Maik Hennebach
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UhhhClem wrote:
Quote:
at the end of the game, each fisherman will feed himself and four other Veeples, and the reward for having a surplus of food is +2 victory points for each viking who gets double rations, whereas the penalty is only –1 for each hungry mouth. In other words, getting another veeple when you are in dire need of fishers will cost you 5 VPs, but another fisherman when you already have an army of them will net you 10 victory points.

I think you mean 8 victory points, since the fisherman has to feed himself. Even so, that's a pretty substantial reward.

Yes and no - it's 8 victory points if you compare scores with or without that fisherman, but it's 10 points compared with the other veeple you have to take instead.
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Lawrence Lopez
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So... what is the verdict (re: 2-player game): basic or advanced?

I think the advanced game (with auction) is a necessity in a 3 or 4 player game. I'm curious about what others think with regards to the 2-player game?
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Maik Hennebach
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Lightstorm wrote:
So... what is the verdict (re: 2-player game): basic or advanced?

I think the advanced game (with auction) is a necessity in a 3 or 4 player game. I'm curious about what others think with regards to the 2-player game?

For us, using just the special tiles, but neither the start playing auction nor the advanved Veeple setup is the best compromise between play time and depth.
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Eric Phillips
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Quote:
What it boils down to is that theme in Eurogames is a learning aid

That's an excellent thought. Your review is even more interesting as a reflection on the role of theme than it is as an analysis of Vikings. Good job.
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Teik Oh
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Having not heard much about this game and playing it for the 1st time today, I have rarely been more impressed by a 1st play of a Euro game for a long time. Though only the 'basic' game (which I am so glad we played as only player whom had played before only had played once anyway), it was indeed so rich and unlike other 'basic' games, it is a proper full game in itself.

Great review. I enjoyed your concept of the theme as a 'teaching/memory aid' which makes perfect sense vs a pure abstract. Instead of saying you need a 'black meeple' to protect your other colours, it was knowing 'you need a warrior' to protect them.

Well done, have put this on my wish list now
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Mark Farr
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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I had the box in my hand at my FLGS earlier today and put it back, thinking I had better read up more before taking the chance on it.

Now, having read your review, I wish I had just taken that chance! Oh well, now I have something to look forward to tomorrow.

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Joel Schuster
Germany
Bretten
Baden-Württemberg
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Splendid review, well done !

I just played the game twice so far, once 2 and once 3 player, but I already like it alot. I can see alot of depth and potential for a game that runs an hour and can be explained to new players in about 10mins - thats just perfect in my book.

Also, I think theme does well enough. I am pretty interested in viking culture anyways so I was not expecting to swing an axe and bite a shield all the way. Its just one part of viking culture and it is incorporated into the game, along with other aspects so thats well done, imho.

I think its all about expectations and the ones who think the game misses theme might have their expectations unmatched, but its those expectations that need to be set aright not the game itself.
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Doug Meldrum
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Great review. I am going to buy this for my brother-in-law right away....and maybe I will buy a copy for myself as well.
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