Review: Asgard´s Chosen – only some of us can be chosen
Although we are different, this era remembers a dream about them. Many of us would certainly like to live in those times. And for those people or for lovers of good board games, comes Asgard´s Chosen. It struck us a little like a bolt from the blue in our newsroom and we were pleasantly surprised. Sit back and immerse yourself in reading our review.
Rykuil, a young warrior stood at the edge of a cliff, listening to the loud roar of the sea flowing out of rocks and windswept shore far below. He has still sparse, yet enough manly beard blowing in fierce northwest wind, and despite he has it carefully tied into a ponytail, its slapping him over cheekbones as well as his long golden red hair.
His eyes are slightly moistening of the wind, as he is concentrating on one point beyond the horizon of the sea. The rugged landscape behind him already came dark from coming night, but there is still dark bleeding red sun glowing in front of him. Wind lashed out like a whip into sea and raised a high wave far up above the horizon. Rykuil´s muscular arms clutched firmly around heavy hatchet. Was it them? No, he can still wait a while to see first fleet of his enemies. Rykuil concentrated even more, almost not blinking. He won´t disappoint his village, serving as their first patrol.
You may have similar feelings chasing through your head, when you will be at the verge of great battle between you and your opponent. As you may guess, Asgard´s Chosen is a game, where war and fighting for territory plays the most important role. And you need recruitment of new military units. In addition, however, an integral part of viking life were also gods and to make your tribe win wars, you need primarily favor from above. And this is the main task of the player: to ensure satisfaction of the gods, by bringing them victims of war.
Before we start our description, that this is not so much known (quite wrongly) feat of Morgan Dontanville was published by Mayfair Games and illustrated by several authors, among which figures also name of David Cochard (Dungeon Lords, Dungeon Petz).
Barren and windswept landscape is ready. Let us therefore also prepare for the great Viking battle and setup the game. The first thing you need to prepare is battlefield, where the whole bloodshed will take place. This can be done with cardboard pieces of terrain. Each of these tiles always displays two different types of terrain out of total 6 species. Three are from wind and three from aquatic element. In addition, tiles contain also a bulging purple circle, which refers to a sacred place, where our heroes get assistance from gods in case of trouble. Pieces have simple effective graphics, so nothing surprising.
According to number of players, you take a certain number of these lanscape tiles and then randomly spread them with towns lying in the gaps between. This way, you will always create a different map, which ensures versatility of your games. Each individual terrain and city will play a major role in development of the whole match. You will occupy it and get more options from them. The more types of terrain you capture, the better you will do. But to fight and exploited land properly, we must first become familiar with the cards. They are indeed the main core of the game, because they serve as a means of payment, as well as a military forces required during battles. We will find up to three color coded card types and offer amazing illustrations, that together with the original name, guarantee right atmosphere.
We have a mythical creature cards with golden frame, which are played first. This deck contains monsters with which and against which we fight, items that will help us in different game situations and enchanted objects, that are extremely strong and eventually event cards, you can bring unexpected twists into play with. At the beginning of the game, this deck is shuffled and eight cards are revealed randomly into two rows by four. This is called „tisch“ and it´s kind an offer of monsters and items, which can be bought.
Then there is another deck of monsters, but stronger ones with a silver frame. These will enter play, when first deck runs out. Finally there are cards with a bronze frame, which point to the gods. They correspond to Norse mythology, so you will meet here, for example, Thor or Odin and these cards are the most important. To win, you have to play number of these cards. Each player gets one set of gods, representing ten cards of various deities. One item is added based on player selection.
Finally, each player takes pieces of his chosen color and respective tokens. Cubes serve to mark areas, you have conquered during the game. To finish the whole preparation, players gradually place one their piece on chosen location (it can be landscape, city or magical place). That player may immediately take one card corresponding to occupied territory. For example, if your piece stands on the desert, you can choose one monster, that belongs to the desert. Players then gradually put their other piece and again take one card. In this way, players are already creating their starting deck of cards, which tells us, that there will be deckbuilding mechanic in this game. So let´s waste no time and commit to the fight. Valhalla awaits!
Blood, screams of women and children, torture, and smell of human flesh boiling in a large cauldron and crammed so much, they cannot even move. Now it all seems like a terrible thing, but it will not take long and Rykuil himself becomes part of it. He knows it very well from previous skirmishes, it will be a completely different story and actually fun. When first mast appeared on the edge of the horizon, it was almost dark. Rykuil knew, it was time.
Once everything is ready, duel begin. One round consists of five phases, where players execute each phase together one after another. At first, player draws seven cards from his deck. Initially, everybody will hold mainly cards of gods. Those are important not only to win, but also can help. Each god has therefore not only sacrifice required to play, but also help he can provide. And now we get to the first stage, where player can ask one of the gods for his favor. This card is played and provides certain benefits until end of the round – better movement or greater strength. Although the first phase may seem easy to decide, it has its very important snag. Whole charm of the game is actually hidden here. God, whose assistance you request, can not be satisfied this round. And you have rightly guessed, both god cards parts are quite closely connected (favor and requirement). For example with Thor: he adds +1 to battle, but you can not meet his requirements of defeating hero. This is a very feathery, yet hard enough intervening mechanism, that can often weld all your brain cells.
Second phase is usually skipped. This is ability to play card of item, which can lend you some of its properties. But there is not too much of such items in the whole game, so this phase feels totally unnecessary.
Its immediately followed by military campaign, the most important part of the whole round. Each player is gradually moving around the map and choose a landscape, city, or magical place, he would like to conquer. Movement is limited to travelling only through your conquered territories. So obtaining new areas is important not only for recruitment of new creatures, but also because of better acces to map. Also many gods requirements are also oriented on landscape.
Now you encounter enormous complexity of the game, because attack itself has many restrictions, that must be followed. They are not so difficult to understand, but rather to keep track of them. So, for example monsters from area, which is direct counterpart of currently attacked field, should not fight there. Cities also have different conquest rules than land and the same goes for magical places. This implies, that correct deckbuilding is essential, you can not play just randomly, because then you will have no chance to fight against your better prepared opponents. So lets move to combat.
This part is funniest, what the whole game has to offer. First defender receives few extra monsters from monsters deck meant as local defense and then attacker can start playing his cards. He, as well as defender may not play mythical beings with contradictory terrain, than the one they are fighting in. In addition, he tries to play monsters coming from the same type of terrain, where battle takes place. He can get not only numerical bonus, but also use its special ability. What makes this game truly amazing is, that there is actually no weak monster. Each can be crucial in some stage of the game, thanks to its special ability. Skills are varied and imaginative.
After the attacker carries out the attack, defender can react. Finally, attacker can play once again, while defender can no longer respond. This again is a great feature, that makes fights unpredictable as in reality. Battles are simply amazing.
Purchasing cards comes as last part of the turn. Players can buy only beings from lands, they have already conquered. Just as in other deckbuildings, paying is done with cards, whose combat value equals purchasing power. Shopping is difficult, because players have already used up a lot of cards in duels, so you are usually able to buy one card. They put all remaining cards on discard pile, draw back to seven and new round is played.
It will all began with a scream. But what if I have a dry throat, or perhaps blocked muscles and I won´t be able to issue the command… no! NO! I will never give up, we will never surrender. NEVER! I responded with a mighty roar. Its here!
So, what are our impressions from gameplay? Its needless to say, that the first time, you will not be having much fun. Game is overly complex in some aspects. Mastering to simultaneously satisfy gods, prepare for battle, occupy the territory and also buy right cards, that´s really hard. But already in the second game, you can taste a sip of clear and interesting gameplay, where main goodness of the match lies. So unpredictable and just as exciting as you can imagine. Actual goal of the game, ie satisfying the gods, also helped mainly, because it feels new. It is unfortunately true, that this aspect is not entirely finished, because some god demands are more difficult to meet than others. It can be noticed mostly in two-player games, where four out of ten gods are almost always left out and you did not bring them any victims.
Multiplayer is generally balanced, but also significantly longer. This is price for the game being so elaborate and complex. With four, the waiting sometimes becomes unbearable. Fortunately, situation is saved by fact, that game is quite interactive. So you often get to play even during turn of another player. The other thing that can shorten tedious waiting is choice of difficulty. In essence, its about how many gods player needs to satisfy to win. You can choose from four to eight, when we recommend six in duel and five with more players. The game takes about two hours, which corresponds to number listed on the box.
Unfortunately, we cannot give higher mark, because of problem of (un)balancing god cards. Since this is a victory conditions, it should be tuned much better. It gets better with more than two players, although you will still notice, that some gods are used more often, than others. Another important criticism goes to number of players. Publisher states 1 to 4, but solo game is almost unplayable and serves only as a tutorial game. Great pity on this.
Asgard´s Chosen is really a pleasant surprise for us. It uses proven game mechanics and principles, which are nicely mixed together. He may act little chaotic and unbalanced, but eventually you will not care, because of the excellent entertainment in the form of battles, that significantly ease the burden of analyzing and counting. Games offer excellent fun and you will experience deep atmosphere, that comes from excellent illustrations on cards. Also details such as original names on cards or different images of the same mythological beings help.
Review: Asgard´s Chosen – only some of us can be chosen
Asgard´s Chosen offers truly epic and fun battle, you´ll never forget. However, the biggest attraction hidden in the form of sacrifices to the gods is quite unbalanced. This makes it sometimes seem, that every game is almost the same. Although it is not, and is only a only a semblance, it drags down the entire game one grade down. Finally, you will forgot about this all balance stuff, while you will be enjoying unpredictable combat, that bring euphoria to the game, that everything else does not matter. Just watch out for more game time, great complexity of the rules (certainly not for beginners!) and fact, that the game is not playable as solitaire. Otherwise... seems like a clear purchase, right?