When we heard from Alf Seegert that he had designed another troll board game, we were anxious to get our hands on it. You may recall that last year, Z-Man Games published his game Bridge Troll and our family has really enjoyed playing it. So when he told us that the trolls were leaving their bridges behind and heading off to pillage and plunder surrounding islands, we were excited to give it a try.
And while this may spoil the suspense, we’ll tell you right up front that we like it even more! There’s many things to keep you thinking in Trollhalla, so even when it’s not your turn, you’re still engaged in the game thinking about what to do next. Of course, chances are high that your plan might get messed up just before your turn anyway - but that’s one of the reasons why we really like it.
How to play Trollhalla - the very basics
The main objective in Trollhalla is to score points by collecting items for your boat and scoring bonus points based on what you collect.
Every player has a player board (boat) with spaces for placing your plundered items.
You collect those items by placing your troll tokens in ships on the board and then sailing to the islands. When the ship gets to the island, each troll token in the boat lines up with spots on the island. The trolls in that position take the corresponding plunder and place it on their own player boat.
On your turn you place 2 of your troll tokens. You can place them in a ship or on a weather space on the board. When you place a token in the boat, you must fill the spots starting at the front of the boat first. And you can not place two of your trolls next to each other. If you place a token on a weather space, you collect a weather card that can be used to do special moves. After you've placed your tokens and used any cards, you roll the dice and see which color of ship is activated.
If the activated ship is full, it's ready to sail to a neighboring island. The island it sails to is determined by the number of troll tokens on the adjacent weather spaces. These are the scouting trolls and they tell the ship where to go. So you influence where ships sail to by placing your tokens on weather spaces. If the ship isn't full yet, you place a Chief troll token on the boat.
The Chief troll tokens are special troll tokens not owned by any player. Chief troll tokens are also used when a boat that is full and ready to sail finds that there is a tie on the weather spaces. For example the adjacent weather spaces each have 2 troll tokens on them. In this case the player places a Chief troll token on the weather spot of his choice. The boat won't sail in that direction on that turn, but will need to wait until it's activated again.
When the Chief tokens plunder and island, the collected items go in the Chief troll boat area. And the troll tokens that were scouting that direction are lined up on the Chief troll boat path. Once that path is full, the trolls on the Chief troll boat path share in the plunder of the Chief.
As mentioned above, the cards have special powers.
You can turn in a pair of matching cards to use the power.
The sun cards let you place an additional troll token on the board.
The storm cards let you remove a pile of troll tokens from one weather spot.
The wind cards let you change the orientation of a ship on the board or a stack of troll token on a weather spot.
Scoring: Points are given according to the associated number on the player board. The billy goat is worth 0, the peasant 2, the monk 3, the noble 4, the princess 5, and the cow 6. So each token you have in those spots scores that many points at the end of the game. And if you get enough of one item, you get the bonus points for that type (as indicated on the board). Also, if you are the first to get one of every type on your boat, you get a bonus of 10 points. The second to do so, gets 5.
Billy goats - when you collect a billy goat he knocks one item off your boat.
Grog - grog is a "wild" and can be placed on any spot on your boat (but can't be moved).
Can the whole family enjoy Trollhalla?
The suggested age for the Trollhalla board game is 8+. And we think that age is pretty accurate. Because of the planning involved and the number of things to keep track of, Trollhalla, won’t appeal to your younger children. They may love placing troll tokens and moving boats around, but we don’t think they’ll pick up on the strategies of the game.
We think it’s great though for teenagers though. If you have teenagers that love games with a chance to mess with the other players, then Trollhalla would be a good one to get. You can always see the other player boards, so you know what items they want to get from the islands. And by playing your cards right, you can divert the boats to different islands, or turn them completely around.
How much luck is involved in Trollhalla?
We think there’s just enough luck to keep the game exciting. For family games, we prefer those that have a good mix of strategy and luck - and we think Trollhalla fits in that mode perfectly. Your main objective is to collect items to put on your player boat (mat). So placing your trolls in boats and directing them to certain islands is key to winning the game. But each turn you also roll the dice to determine which boat gets activated. So even with your best planning, the boat you board may not move. Or the spot on it might get filled with a chief token just before your turn. Or the player just before you might remove your scouting trolls and the boat sails to a different island.
But that’s what we love about the game - because it evens the playing field. The children have a great chance to win over the parents.
Is the theme of pillaging trolls appropriate for families?
We think the theme in Trollhalla is fine for families. As you can see, the artwork is done in a whimsical manner and there isn’t any eating or destruction. It’s almost like you’re just picking up passengers and taking them for a ride on your boat. In fact, if you want to explain it that way to your family, then we believe the board game would play out just the same.
Add some variety as well
We’d also like to point out that there is a game variant that lets you mix up the weather spots. Rather then just playing with the weather spots that are on the board, the game also includes some weather tiles that you can randomly place on the board to cover up the existing weather spots. It’s a great way to change it up so you’re not always scouting the same locations if you really like the sun cards for example.
As you can tell, Trollhalla’s a game that we’d recommend for your family game night.
Thanks Alf Seegert and Z-Man Games for another great family board game.
Follow The Board Game Family:
A list of all our family board game and card game video reviews can also be found on BGG in this Family Video Reviews GeekList.
Great review, and video! Together they convinced us to buy, and it is a big hit with this family and our gaming friends.
I have to say, when I first opened the box I couldn't stop giggling at all the D: faces (even the pig!), kekeke.