No one doubted this day would come. From the moment I was a child, my parents and my brothers led me to a single desire. Gain fame and enter Valhalla by fighting and having the best death. I trained with all my might to be the strongest. But now, that Ragnarök had really come, the gods had spoken to our priests and changed the rules. Only the warriors of the clan, that will perform the greatest and most daring deeds in the chaos of the end of the world will enter the Hall of Fame.
The desire for fame of your clan is the story of Blood Rage. The designer of this game, which is far from new with the first year of the 2015 release, is the popular Eric M. Lang, and the illustrations came from the pen of Adrian Smith. We received the new English version from CMON’s workshop in the 2019 edition.
The game no longer hides its Nordic theme from the lid of the big box, which is distinctly red and shows one fighter in the hell of battle. The bottom of the box is top-filled with components, but players, as usual, start with a game board spread out in the middle of the table. They get a view of Yggdrasil and all the nine worlds, that it connects and holds together. There are as many areas, that are called provinces in the game, and each of them contains some of those villages.
Players place one loot token in each area. One of the provinces becomes desolated, which players also mark with a token. Ragnarök strikes for the first time and destroys one to three provinces, depending on the number of players. In addition to the map, players place also two other smaller plans – a Valhalla board and a plan with age track, where he places not only decks of God’s gift cards, but also three random Ragnarök tokens. These are other areas that await destruction during the game. In addition to the game board, players create a supply of monster pieces.
Participants each choose their clan, which also determines their color, which will decorate a complete set of warriors – one leader and eight figures of warriors. They also inseparably include one boat, which differs in color of its sail. Players then use the tokens in their color to mark the initial values of all four scales on their board, but also begin counting their scores on a common scale around the game board.
The game takes place across three ages, which are divided into individual phases. And it goes through those players gradually and together. Each time it all starts with the distribution of God’s gift cards for the current age, with the help of a draft. The participants divide the cards equally, then each chooses one and hands the rest to the opponent on the left. They repeat this until everyone has six cards, with the other remaining two discarded.
Then they all move together into an action phase, in which they will spend their fury points and choose from five different activities. They will always take turns after using only one action. The basis is, of course, to get the units on the board, but that costs as many points of rage as the unit has strength. Player can deploy it to any outer province (all except Yggdrasil). With these soldiers, players can move around the map and one point is spent to move any number of units from one location to another, adjacent.
Then players can try to use their warriors to plunder in a location that no one else has focused on. In the quest for success, player can summon his fighters from neighboring regions to support him. But in this way, opponents from the adjacent provinces can join the fight. This possibility lasts and moves around the table until everyone has given up another chance or until all the villages are occupied by soldiers.
However, the fight will only take place in a situation, where there are some enemy units in the province (or the adjacent fjord). Otherwise, the player will immediately credit the reward, that belongs to a specific area (it is the profit of some of the resources).
The fight requires every participant to play a card from his hand and then reveal it at the same time as the opponents. It gives its owner some advantage, but usually strength points. The players add these to the statistics of the units involved in the conflict, compare the totals and the player with the highest strength becomes the winner. He is the only one, who can claim a reward, while everyone else must destroy all units. Above all, the result of the fight is the gain of valuable points of fame (battle glory).
Rest of the actions again involve the use of cards from the hand, but this time it will not be secret or due to conflict. Individual cards can also be used to improve the statistics of player’s clan, and especially specific units. The player board has room for up to eight cards, which, after paying fury (worth the strength of the card being played), not only adds a new ability to clan, but also improves the leader, fighter or ship. But an even more attractive option is to recruit one of the monsters to player‘s team and get control of his miniature.
The last action option is to play one hero card from hand. By unloading it face down, the player commits to fulfilling it. If he manages to meet the requirements at the current age, then he will receive a reward on the card. This, in particular, represents the much-coveted glory.
At the end of the age, players can keep only one card in their hand, all others must be discarded. Then it occurs in one of the provinces of Ragnarök and death affects all units at that time. But this is not as bad news as it seems, because it can hardly be better for the Vikings to go to the other world than to surrender to the end of the world. This means that their death will bring fame to the players and the pieces are moved to Valhalla.
But the souls of the dead are immediately released back to their generals and are ready for the next age. The game takes place for another two ages and then it is over. Players can now earn some bonus fame points for increased statistics of their clans. The one who became most famous in total, captured the final victory for his clan.
Blood Rage is a spectacular game about the end of the world. It takes place in the mythical world that Yggdrasil holds together. But players don’t just have to listen to legends about it, they can even conquer and plunder his province if they can move their soldiers here during the game. And this middle location is really in demand, so don’t expect to get it without a fight.
The great thing about this game is that the number of points of fame gained, the actions in the round and the number of soldiers allowed for playr at one time on the map are not clearly given. It depends only on the statistics of individual participants and on how the players decide to improve their clan. As a result, players have everything under their control and it is never entirely clear, what the winning strategy for a given game will be.
After all, tactics start with the initial dealing of cards. In a draft, you can always choose only one card from the set, and this sometimes brings difficult decisions. Players try to choose such abilities, that will further strengthen their chosen plans. The game has a strong tendency for surprising twists. You can never be sure of victory. Even if it looks like it, your opponents may have plans that can surprise you.
There are no cakes without a fight. The Vikings have no idea, that any of the conflicts on the plan could have a conciliatory solution. Their axe is carefully sharpened and constantly hungry for blood. And she gets it richly in this uncompromising carve fest, which, however, has a lot of interesting choices for everyone involved.
The game is always a little different in changing numbers of participants, but you will never blame it. Fun is guaranteed, whether you play in two (and draft two cards at once) or in four. The range of available components is adapted to the number and overall the map always remains interesting thanks to more destroyed regions (up to 3 in a duel).
Don’t expect any short battles. This is the last and final battle before the end of the world, and it needs to be given due attention. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you exceed two hours. In smaller numbers, you can even get closer to sixty minutes.
Of course, monsters are a big attraction. Their nine beautiful miniatures are the decoration of every table and there is no one who would not want them on his side. But in general, the look of the game is absolutely stunning thanks to the huge number of miniatures altogether. Fortunately, the figures are not just for decoration (as is a bit customary today), but they move along the plan and fight among themselves. Fortunately, quality processing did not escape the remaining areas of the game, including very nicely described rules and stylish illustrations.
Blood Rage is a famous representative of games, in which everything revolves around the fight for territory. It seems to have only three rounds, during which you can make enough decisions and actions. And there is never a shortage of tactics. Blood Rage distributes the joy of every action and shows the direction that modern board games should want to take.
Blood Rage is a fighting and bloody entertainment, from which not only the testosterone of Viking warriors is sprayed on all sides, but above all the gameplay. The desire for experience does not even have time to flare up here, because players are constantly involved in planning and moving on the map. Each clan is different, and although there are small differences, in the end they can be much larger. Players can improve them according to their ideas. But in the end, the victory is decided on the map, by direct battles that bring the desired glory and the way to Valhalla. Blood Rage is a delicacy for every connoisseur.