You may not know it, or you may not care; but right now we are in a golden age of tabletop gaming. The year 2015 as a whole was so fantastic for board games that on boardgamegeek.com there was a new “best game of all time” crowned. Yes there are people that rank these things and there has been no change in the top game of all time for years. That is until 2015 came along and produced such quality that the entire tabletop community had to stop and take notice of the fact that this has been a banner year.
For me personally 2015 has seemed to be the year of worker placement. I discovered and fell in love with Lords of Waterdeep, Stone Age, Orleans, Roll For The Galaxy, Discoveries and many other great worker placement and action selection games. One of the games that stood out among the crowd of quality games this year however is a game called Champions of Midgard.
Champions of Midgard is a worker placement game (similar to many of the games listed above) that pits you as a Viking lord trying to win the respect of a local village and earn the title of Jarl. On your turn you place a meeple around the board to activate certain actions or collect certain goods like wood, food and gold. You can also place workers to collect warrior dice that you can then use to fight monsters that may be attacking the village or neighboring villages.
Some monsters are terrorizing distant shores across a choppy sea so as part of the game you will have the opportunity to load up a longship with warriors and food and brave the ocean deep in search of adventure and glory. Taking a journey across the ocean can be rewarding but can also be very dangerous as you will encounter various storms and creatures along the way. If you can make it across the ocean and feed your warriors you can fight the mythical creatures of Norse legend to earn glory, gold, victory points and prestige.
One interesting aspect of this game is that you will play using different characters that each have certain abilities that make the game more interesting. The character below is Gylfir the Seaworthy, a Viking warrior of great renown who is respected among the merchants and mercenaries that haunt the coast.
After defeating monsters, earning gold and glory, hunting for food and braving the seas you will count up cards and monster sets along with some of your destiny cards, gold and tokens and whoever has the most victory points wins and becomes the Jarl of the village.
This game is a blast to play and really hooks you with an interesting Viking flavor. This year many have listed Champions of Midgard as a “Lords of Waterdeep replacement” or a “Lords of Waterdeep killer”. While this game is compared to Lords of Waterdeep regularly I think that the comparisons are largely inaccurate as a strategic replacement. Champions of Midgard is a fun dice throwing romp that really brings a fun theme home. It’s an enjoyable experience to play as a Viking lord and fight Trolls and Fenrir Cubs and hold off Draugr. The theme shines in this game and it makes it a much more enjoyable experience. The prominent strategy and most direct way to assure victory in Champions of Midgard is by fighting monsters; everything that you do in this game leads to that end. That isn’t meant as a negative statement or meant to say that this game isn’t an absolute blast to play, but it’s because of this strategy that this game hasn’t replaced Lords of Waterdeep for me. The experience by and large feels different and for that reason this game hasn’t knocked Lords of Waterdeep off of my top 10 of all time, especially with the expansion to provide more depth.
Champions of Midgard is a great play and one of my top 10 games of 2015, but Lords of Waterdeep for me is a deeper strategic experience as it stands. This game is new and exciting however and has much better theming than Lords of Waterdeep so for many Champions of Midgard will probably be more fun. You would not regret buying this game and would more than likely keep it in your collection for years to come. This is a refreshing take on the worker placement mechanic and one that I think will be imitated and possibly even improved upon (hopefully by Ole Steiness and Grey Fox Games). I’m excited to see what the future holds for this game and its possible expansions, and other games that expand on the idea of a worker placement combat game.
This is an absolute buy for me and has me looking at other titles releasing from Grey Fox Games with excitement. I give this game an 8/10 and said as much on board game geek. I will post a how to play video of Champions of Midgard later this week for those interested in seeing gameplay. Until then I’ll see you at the table!