Saturday, February 4, 2017

Playing Blood Rage or What is the plural of Ragnarok anyway?

My friend Jim over the holidays bought Coolmini's Viking-themed Blood Rage, and so I sat down with him today, along with my other friend Jeff, to try it out.

It is Ragnarok, the end of days, and the Gods for some reason want to blow up the world in one final Gotterdamerung. Jim, Jeff and I are thus pawns in all this, and we vie for glory points to appease the Gods and such.

The map is not Earth, but I guess, the Viking ideal lands, or something like that? Midgard, perhaps? Though I know quite a bit of the Vikings historically, I never delved too deeply into their religion.. I know about the Valkyries and Odin and such, but such things as Yygdrasil, tree of life, was and is,  a strange idea and to which I am not too knowledgeable about.. Still, whatever.. I'll try out the game and will name the unpronounceable names of their lands to play.. 

There are 3 ages (rounds) in the game, each with a mini-Ragnarok, which got me asking what the plural of Ragnarok was, which no one knew.

We fight each other for glory points in victory, but also for our brave warriors' death and their subsequent (temporary) entrance to Valhalla for glory points, and lastly, to complete quests for glory points.

Speaking of warriors, the sculpts for the basic warriors were okay but not very detailed and a bit soft-plastic ish..

...however, the giant monsters were gorgeously sculpted as you would expect from Coolmini..

Combat in the game is easy.. every time you plunder, enemy warriors could try and stop you, and you would fight it out.. Warriors had a strength of 1 point each, monsters would have more depending on their card.. The luck factor in the game came in combat cards that added various +1 to 5 or 6 strength to your attack as you see below for example..

, with further combat cards added at your option if they had a solid white-circled background. Some of the combat cards had text that give you further advantages..

Each land has enough room for 3 or 4 warriors, with 1 land being automatically destroyed every turn for Ragnarok..

 Valhalla quickly filled up with the glorious dead at every Age..

but we weren't too concerned, as they would come back to life in the next Age, with glory points to boot. No one really minded therefore if they died in combat, or died in a land about to be terminated by the Gods in one of the mini-Ragnaroks...

The "currency" of the game were Rage points, which allow you to go on quests, move warriors, pillage, etc on the map.. This led to some joking on our part, as we would make cracks like "my rage is spent"..."now that the Democrats have thankfully lost, my rage is gone"... "your game Rage is zero, Jeff.. but is your personal rage still seething?" "My Rage is gone, but I need to go on a journey of personal healing".. that sort of thing.

I quickly found that Rage points were the limiting factor in the game.. I went big on the monsters, but they proved to be more costly than beneficial.. For instance, it cost me 2 and 4 Rage points to buy the Troll and Fire Giant each, but then another 2 and 4 points to put them on the map..  Well, you only start the game with 6 Rage points, so you quickly find yourself with expensive monsters that just sit there.

The one time I got one of my big monsters on the board, it was satisfying as I destroyed everyone in the land were were contesting, but it was expensive!

The strategy in the game I think hinges on what sort of enhancements and quests you have, as they allow you to rack up glory points, even if you lost a battle.. Like all card-driven games, there were plenty of "gotcha" cards where they can thwart your success even in a minor fashion, or benefit themselves with your victory or their failure anyway.

You could for instance, purposely pick fights and lose deliberately, go to Valhalla, and still get 11 glory points for your failure, as this quest card demonstrates. This kind of losing but winning strategy doesn't sound very we-will-sing-of-your-bravery-O Beowulf-epic-poem-ish material to me, but whatever..

All in all, the game is not bad. I think there is quite a bit more depth to the game, as you learn more and more the best way to use the cards you are dealt with. This was our first try and not bad at all. Thumbs up.

We finished the afternoon with a very tongue-in-cheek game called Camp Grizzly, as discussed here.


  1. [Supplemental: We found afterward, we were playing this wrong. The rule is:

    When you upgrade your warriors, ships, leaders, or monsters (by upgrade I mean putting the card down so you can use the monster) you pay the cost of the card to put them down as usual, but you can invade with them immediately at no extra cost.

    Example being that if you put a Fire Giant down, you pay 4 Rage. You can invade for free now. You do not have to pay 4 more Rage to invade. Now if it died, you would have to pay 4 Rage to bring it out again.]