The 4th “Dice & Mystics Fringe “ is in the past, and believe it or not, we have started preparing for 2020… As small as the event is, our “TinyCon” has turned into a regular thing by now, something that our guests regard as a natural part of their Spiel Essen experience: A night spent in good company, among old and new friends. And oh my, do we miss everybody!
For the majority of our guests, it has been the 3rd or even the 4th time. They meet but once a year at the Fringe – and immediately sit down together, unbox a game and play like they see each other at game nights on a regular basis. The rooms start filling up rapidly, but nobody wastes any time but gets down to some serious fun right away.
The guests of the Fringe have slowly turned into a real community where everybody looks out for everybody else. The new booking system worked just fine, and we have been told it made things a lot easier. We still handled the few cancellations manually, and we give our thanks to everybody who needed to cancel and was so kind to mail us so that others on the waiting list had their chance. As always, we do hope that only positive things have kept you away. It would have been so much easier to simply not turn up – but not a single one of you would ever do that to anybody else, oh no. You care for each other. The Fringe is starting to feel like an international family gathering. Many people from different corners of the earth know each other, have long since become friends, and they warmly welcome everybody who is new to the event. We hear that again and again, from regulars and first-timers alike: “We feel at home here.” What more could we possibly hope for?
People make appointments for games, bring each other presents, translate from one language to another and back, share, teach and learn new games, exchange Spiel experiences and insights, give each other lifts back to their hotels and apartments. And the special thing is, that such things are not just happening between “regular” gamers, but they include the publishers, designers, artists, reviewers and YouTubers, because apart from who else they may be, they are gamers like all others sitting at the same tables, having fun together.
and friendship are the key to everything. The Fringe would not be possible
without the Parish of St. Engelbert,
who once again let us use the building free of any charge. We humbly thank
for their hospitality and hope we will continue to benefit from their kindness
and be able to host the Fringe event for years to come.
There were so many people of the Dice & Mystics but especially the guests themselves who made this a special night. Last year we took photos of where the tables were standing after you had all left and used this to arrange them accordingly right from the start. The buffet in the lobby had a new feature: next to tea, coffee, biscuits and sweets, there was also plain tap water. Judging by the number of refills this had actually been a good idea, and it had sprung from observations made by everybody together. But you are the people who bring yourselves and your games to our tables and create this great sense of community.
A big part of this community are also those good people from the gaming industry who bring you gifts and want to share their passion and joy of board games:
Albe Pavo contributed some serious fun in the shape of “BEER & Vikings”:
Breaking Games did not think twice but gave us one copy of everything they had with them: “The Stars Align”, “We’re Doomed”, “Trellis”, “Rise of Tribes” deluxe and “Expancity”.
Chip Theory Games who were sad that due to their schedule they could not come this time insisted on donating a copy of their much admired “Cloudspire” for you to win.
there were quite a number of € 10 vouchers from Fantasywelt.de, the large German online game retailer.
GOTTA2 Games from Japan showcased their
beautiful little social deduction game “Who am I” where you are invited to the Tea
Party in Alice in Wonderland, sitting around a miniature table set with
miniature real china dishes (all actually in the box). Of course they donated
it to be raffled off to a lucky winner:
The amazingand wonderful Julie Ahern of Greenbrier Games did not take long to decide and simply gave us a copy of – everything! This bonanza included such gems as “Champions of Hara”, “Of Dreams & Shadows“ plus the expansion, “Helios Expanse” and – a huge box containing a full kickstarter pledge of “Folklore”, with a cherry on top.
In My Box, the wonder workers who design incredible
things crafted in wood, donated their prize item, an ingeniously constructed
and most beautiful storage solution for “Scythe” (and did you now each and
every “Big Bad Box” is individually numbered?):
again our friends King Racoon Games gave
us two copies of their famous “Tsukuyumi Full Moon Down”, the comic and also
the art book, signed by the brilliant Felix Mertikat himself, and also the
novel (in German) that was written after the game.
Mythic Games againpresented our guests with their great success “Time of Legends: Joan of Arc”, and once again rounded off with a “little” big extra: The “Reliquiary” box containing kickstarter specials!
were two copies of the much anticipated “Last
Bastion”, quite the hotness, by REPOS Production:
Scribabs (you may know their “Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas: Malleus Maleficarum”) generously provided for those who enjoy running in packs and hunting in the night: a copy of “Armata Strigoi”!
There were some prizes by Spieleparadies Wagner, the local toy and games shop in Bochum, too, of course. And they wouldn’t be who they are if they had not thought of including some very special prizes catering for the refined and more tender taste…
Tetrahedron Games gave away two editions of their fun
and colourful game “Dodoesque” – “Cherry Blossom” and “Jungle Fever”- for the
raffle. (Check out their Viking game VALHAL,
but by no means least we once again had the great pleasure of having with us:
The Dice Tower, who brought happy moments with their cute dice panda. It will be loved and cherished in its new home.
It is not hard to see that by accepting your prizes with a radiant smile you also made the donors happy.
I was told that for the people inside the booths at the fair, it always remains a two-sided contact between a salesperson and one or a few customers at a time, with pre-set roles and a real or a virtual sales counter separating them from one another. This is o.k., that’s what everybody goes to the fair for: showcase your games to the public, sell them, have games shown to you, and empty your pockets and purses to fill up the trolleys and car boots with hours and hours of gaming fun.
But at the Fringe, especially during the raffle, everybody is on “the same side”, and when a game is held aloft to be raffled off to a happy winner, the excited murmurs, the cheers and spontaneous branding applause from such large a crowd are a feedback publishers do not get anywhere else. From what we experienced, they really put their hearts into their games. Their audience’s love and appreciation for what they do and create means a lot to them.
The main thing, though, is the hobby itself and the people who share it. We hope you are enjoying your prizes, but in truth really everybody was winning, learning a new game, seeing many of the year’s new releases on the table and in action, meeting somebody maybe from a different part of the world and sharing that one legendary game with each other. Thank you to each and every one of you all!
You brought us plenty of great and tasty gifts as well, and we also say a big thank you for that!
Especially dear to us were also some wonderful people from Life of a Board Gamer (Danijel Ljubas) and from Meeple University (Stella Jahja)who work to keep us all informed about the board gaming hobby and the happenings around it and who also found kind words in their reports and v-logs about their first time at the Fringe. Maybe you would like to have a peek:
We do hope
you all had a great time, felt warmly welcome and are thinking back with fond
We do hope
you all had a great time, felt warmly welcome and are thinking back with fond
We are not
an organisation or club, neither have nor accept any money, with the exception
of the donations to the parish for charity and the upkeep of the house, for
which we thank you very much. Everything else is freely given away to make
Good play –
It is for you all that we are hosting this event, and we are ever more richly rewarded by a happy company playing all those great games together, and by having you all as our friends!
It is actually the fourth time running that we are looking forward to play together will all you wonderful people from all over this planet at our “TinyCon”.
You would like to finish your day at the SPIEL Essen with a nice and comfortable game night? Then come to play with us on Saturday October 26th at our game location in Bochum, 15 Minutes by car from the SPIEL. You are very welcome at our Dice & Mystics Fringe
As usual, it is free of any charge and entirely non-commercial. We simply like to give our fellow board gamers a place to enjoy their new games, meet people, exchange their experiences of the fair and have fun.
space and time to play on Saturday from 4.00 p.m. to midnight. However, the
places are limited, so we do kindly ask you to make a reservation in advance. To
make your booking faster and easier and save you from having to queue at the
entrance, this year we are for the first time use an online booking service
(see below); again free of any costs.
There are hotels
and restaurants in the vicinity which may be about the same driving distance to
the SPIEL as some in Essen.
There will again be the opportunity to order food and drinks on the premises; a delivery service will bring everything to the tables. And of course teas, coffees and biscuits are free, as always!
You would like to come? Make your reservation here.
You are going
to receive an automatic confirmation as soon as you are booked, together with a
detailed description on how to reach us (just 3 turns from the autobahn; also
by public transport) and some important information.
Registration ends on: Saturday, 12.10.2019
No entry without e-ticket (on mobile device or print version).
You all are sitting next to me at the fire with sane minds, unscarred bodies nor ripped-off limbs.
It is clear to my old eyes that you do not know the wrath of dragon fire.
But out there in the land of Kickstarter are brave warriors, fighting and battling mighty dragons, demons and even the god of storm.
Their leader is named Leonidas by friends and cursed by foes. His most loyal retainer Az beats the war Drummond and keeps the troops in line. I have seen the battlefields on which they fought beasts of legends, and I collected many unattended corpses.
Are you thirsty for glory – thirthty to make yourself known to the people of the land of Kickstarter?
Do you want to bring boxes full of loot with you when you return to your home again or be known as one who fought and died on the bonefields of Legend?
Then follow this path to the KS and do not hesitate!
Pledge your soul to your god.
Offer your live to godfather death.
I will take care of your unattended corpse.
Come and follow me and let me tell you that the warriors of Mythic Games will gather at the Dice & Mystics Fringe Event with us. And they bring loot for our raffle: One copy of Time of Legends: Joan of Arc and one canvas print showing glorious art from the game!
Give them the proper support on KS and have big fun playing their games!
I come to you with good tidings. In midsts a ocean of titles I have seen a light.
It heads right towards us. But beware I see a huge shadow following it like a giant sea monster.
The light is fuelled by the creativity, passion and outstanding love to detail that is presented to us by Albe Pavo. They have shown all those qualities in the last KS for the second edition of Carnival Zombie.
I own the first edition and am always delighted to play it. But beware: the second edition comes with so much more detail, frolic, depth and new game mechanics without loosing the beauty and gripping immersion of the first edition. Have a look: CARNIVAL ZOMBIE – Second Edition
The wonderful talented people from Albe Pavo will join our Fringe Event. And if their presence wound not be enough to get us excited they donate one copy of their game „Beer & Vikings“.
We are delighted and honored to have them with us.
With the first sightings of the moloch named Spiel Essen on the horizon let me take up my duty as sentinal for the Dice & Mystics Event on the Fringe of that giant beast of a fair.
Firstly I sighted a new company that is burning with passion to ease our need to organise game components in the boxes and to help us with setting up and storing away all those precious goodies that make up all those glorious games today.
I am talking about InMyBox. They are making inserts, overlays, dice towers, cardholders, t-shirts for board gamers, 3D led lamps, 3D printed parts for and other accessories for board games. You can have a good look at their products at their online shop: https://inmybox.euor their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/InMyBox.eu/
You will find these warriors on a crusade for better inserts at Spiel Essen in hall 5, booth 5K106. Make sure to visit them and give them a nice welcome and their products a good look!
And those passionate guys will join our Dice & Mystics Fringe Event and donate one copy of their flag ship product for their big entry at Spiel Essen:
The Scythe BigBadBox!
That box will provide space for all possible game pieces and all expansions. In addition to that they will provide us with two inserts for other games to give away in our raffle!
And big THANK YOU to Ivan from InMyBox for those kind donations and we wish you and your team a wonderful and successful time at Spiel Essen 2019.
We all cannot wait to have you at our Dice & Mystics Fringe Event!
Addendum: They have opened up the possibility to pickup orders at Spiel Essen without delivery costs for you.
Hey everybody – I have news concerning the Dice & Mystics Fringe:
We are booked full.
not believe our eyes, but it’s true, and it’s only July…!
everybody who successfully used our new booking system: We hope it was as
convenient and easy for you as we intended it to be, and we thank you so much
for joining our 2019 event.
For anybody who would still like to come but did not catch a ticket:
With the online booking system there is no waiting list. However, as soon as anybody has to cancel, we will manually remove their reservation and booking will re-open for those places, so keep your eyes peeled for any free spot that may pop up again. If there are any problems, you can reach out to us at: contact(at)diceandmystics.de
To anybody who has a ticket but cannot come:
Please do send an e-mail with your cancellation to contact(at)diceandmystics.de ! Please include your booking number.
will be other people who would gladly like to take your spot, and for them to
be able to do so we have to manually cancel the ticket so that there will be a
free spot indicated in the booking system. For that, we must of course first
know that there is a vacancy! Thank you very much in advance.
remains to say is: We are very much looking forward to meet you all in person
in just over three months. Till then, have a wonderful time, lots of fun
gaming, and a safe journey to Spiel Essen and our Dice & Mystics Fringe
event in Bochum.
Have you ever come around the next morning after a rollicking party with a headache, scrambling for orientation and finding your befuddled brain completely and totally blank? If you ever experienced such an extreme yourself, you might be able to feel with the stricken heroes in this historical civilisation builder board game. Everybody else will just have to employ their imagination. The name of the game is a clue in itself: VALHAL is all about Vikings. Real ones. The theme of VALHAL is the life and day of the historic Vikings, and their religious beliefs play an important part. But Ragnarök can wait. For now, the most important thing is being a true Viking who, after a glorious death, will then proudly stride into Asgard, with his sword in hand, and claim his place amidst the mead drinking ranks of the heroes of Valhal. This is the sole and most noble purpose of every Viking’s very existence! It is just that a combination of too much mead, and a too deeply felt anticipation of the glorious afterlife, can lead to certain unforeseen complications…
On one fateful
morning, the Vikings of Fjörnheim, a fictitious island in the North, wake up
with a legendary headache. Still struggling with the aftereffect of mead still coursing
through their veins and some major memory gaps concerning the finer details of
the previous night, they are facing Rattatöskr, messenger of the gods, who
brings it to their notice that in their drunken state they “accidentally”
chopped up a holy tree to feed their little camp fire. The proprietors of the
tree in question, the Gods of Asgard, are not amused. At all. Without further
ado they withdraw the post-mortem access authorization to Asgard and Valhal
from the hung-over Norsemen. Things cannot possibly get any worse for a Viking-!
The theme of
civilization builder board game takes place in the early Viking era, which is
depicted with great historical accuracy down to the very details. You assume the responsibility of one of the Fjörnheim
Jarls under whose leadership the Norsemen strive to manage, improve and further
their settlements and, most importantly, perform great deeds – i.e. go a-viking
and bring home loot. This is done in order to gain Glory and win back the
favour of the Gods and eventually be welcomed at the doors of Asgard and admitted
into Valhal after their heroic demise.
Published by Tetrahedron-Games 2018 (Copyright
Designed by Martin Otzmann and Mario Arthur
by Nele Diel
Plays 2 – 4 players
Gameplay 90 – 120 minutes
about 12 minutes
Box Size square box (23,5 x 23,5 x 6,5 cm)
Lots of fun stuff in a box:
1 Season Marker, which is the central game board in the middle of which the seasons get indicated (there is even a surplus of 3 additional Season Markers in the box that can be used as replacements)
4 Favour of the Gods displays (1 per player)
4 Ravenhead Tokens in the player colours, used to record the progress on the Favour of the Gods display (1 per player)
7 Achievenment Tokens (grant bonus points for being first to achieve certain objectives)
8 Memory Aid Tokens (with the sides ”Spring & Disabled“ und “Summer & Winter“)
16 Food Tokens
16 Building Tokens: 8 Wood Tokens 8 Iron Tokens
5 game boards: 4 Viking Settlements (the Viking settlement of the player where they can build, train their warriors and manage their ressources) The Mainland (one central game boardwhere the villages and towns to be raided are laid out)
72 unit cards: 28 units Nordic Warriors 20 units Nordic Veterans (elite warriors) and 24 Longboats (the famous Viking dragon boats)
16 Buildings Cards: 4 Warehouses (improve building of ships) 4 Blacksmith’s (help warriors to become “veterans”) 4 Granaries (improve the food situation in winter) 4 Sacrificial Altars (grant ”Benevolence of the gods” cards)
24 Town Cards (from small undefended villages to strong fortified towns plus relief troops) .
24 Town Cards (from small undefended villages to strong fortified towns plus relief troops)
149 Playing Cards : 50 Event Cards 30 Benevolence of (the) Gods Cards 30 Wrath of the Gods Cards 15 Lesser Loot Cards 10 Large Loot Cards 10 Greater Loot Cards
20 Markers (little wooden cubes in 3 different colours)
4 red D6 Dice
20 white Custom Dice (faces showing 1 to 3, with each number appearing twice)
Sounds like a huge
amount of content? It certainly is. It really baffles the mind how is it
possible to put out such a lot of gaming fun for such a reasonable price. It is
not the sheer number of single game parts alone that is impressive: The artwork
is really excellent and the production quality of the components is good. Everything
is straightforward, easy to handle, and well-made. For such a modest price (or even higher
prices) we have – on other occasions – seen flimsy products with just a fraction
of components such as these. So it is truly amazing and also very gratifying to see how much of a game you are getting in a box
of VALHAL by comparison.
The creators themselves, however, told us they are not entirely happy with the quality of the components, especially with some of the cards, although we and our fellow gamers had been satisfied with the present production and its components. So anyone who is planning to get themselves a copy of their own: You can look forward to the upcoming re-issue of the game (soon on kickstarter) with components made by different production companies where everything is going to be even better than it is now!
What impressed us the most about this game is the care and thoroughness that went into the way the theme has been translated into the design and the game mechanics. There is not a single aspect that has not been researched and implemented correctly in terms of cultural history: There are no anachronisms anywhere, n horned helmets or any other such popular nonsense in evidence! The creators did not simply paste a popular theme onto a game mechanism, the mechanism organically grows from the very depths and realities of the theme itself. They do take the Nordic culture of that particular era very seriously indeed. This even applies to such detail as the colour scheme of the game and its components which moves within the scope of exclusively such pigments that would actually have been available at the time of the Vikigs. Wow! That’s what we call dedication! If you are expecting extravagant fantasy Vikings sprung from a comic strip, you won’t find any of those here. But you are not giong to miss them either. VALHAL is a novel and crisp gaming experience with a sound mixture of rules, strategies and luck – just like real life. If, however, you are genuinely into the historic Viking people, you will in fact experience some of their real life while enjoying a game of VALHAL If you have none such expectations and simply want to play an interesting board game, VALHAL is for you, too.
There are four identical settlements. This settlement is the actual playing board for each player, where the destiny of the villagers decides; the victory points generated here are counted on the Favour of the Gods display. In the centre of each settlement there is the Jarl’s longhouse; this is where you place your resources. You collect your (unspent) coins, food tokens and building tokens (wood, iron). The number of food tokens in limited to four: Prior to the invention of canned food and freezers, you just could not store an unlimited food supply to last you all year. So in real Viking life, resources did actually run scarce at times…
In your settlement you have a shipbuilder;
in that spot you are able to construct your dragon boats. You have a training
ground where you may train farmers to become brave seafarers and man your ships,
and a rune stone where you may sacrifice gold or glory (victory points) to be
granted a favour of the gods. But be warned – gods are not bound to any profane
rules. The favours they will grant are not always beneficial to mortals…
Also, each settlement has building sites for additional buildings – a warehouse, a granary and a blacksmith – as well as an (already existing) armoury for the use of which, however, you need a blacksmith, because it requires a blacksmith to adequately equip simple sailors with the necessary means to become seasoned veteran warriors. That makes a lot of sense.
Your objective is to finish your building
as soon as possible. In order to do this, you must first place a coin on the
building site and provide food for the settlement. (Workers need to eat.) Using
resources can enable you to start or speed up the building process even without
any food tokens. When finished, buildings allow you to build ships faster and
with fewer resources, to train up and equip warriors or also to have more food during
the long winter (better storage conditions).
How to play:
Each game consists of several rounds which
take place during the three (!) seasons (summer,
winter and spring). At the start of the first round, each player owns one longboat,
one unit Nordic warriors manning it, one unit food, two units iron (represented
by the two tokens) and three coins.
starts with a “Vikingfahrt“:
You can only go on a Vikingfahrt (Viking sea raid) in summer. Therefore, the game starts in summer, and you begin by placing some (unfortified) villages on the mainland; their number is determined following the number of players present. And off you go!
The villages you aim for are easy prey – or not: There are small unprotected hamlets, but also big, heavily fortified cities that put up some fierce resistance with the help of relief troops in a second wave of defense. You are facing the dilemma that the easy targets guarantee some booty and a safe return of ship and men, but the booty you bring home may be rather unimpressive. Those rich fortified cities, on the other hand, contain a heap of real riches to be gleaned, and often some noble offspring into the bargain that can earn you a handsome ransom, but all this comes at great risk.
One thing is for certain: If you opt for a
risk-free life bullying some conveniently harmless farmers into giving up the
little they have, you and your
settlement will yourself end up having little, no heroic ballads are sung in
your praise and the gates of Valhal will forever stay shut. So when you are
planning ahead where to risk a sea raid, you should think and re-think before
you take action.
You pick out one of the places laid out on
the mainland that you want to raid and pillage and chose the longboat and unit
of warriors you want to employ for the task. The next step is the actual fight.
A successfully pillaged village or city is removed from the mainland and you bag
all the loot that is stated on its card: gold, resources like food, wood or
iron, ransom for hostages…
That having been done, the next player
starts the next raid on the respective target. This continues until all the
places on the mainland have been raided.
How you fight:
If a ship has more than one unit of
warriors on board, you have to first determine which of them is going to attack
first. The attack bonuses do add up, but
not the life points. All attack bonuses are used in battle, but only the unit
in front takes the damage. If the attacking unit in front loses all life points
and die, the remaining unit will be next to attack, but of course there are no
more bonuses to add up. This gives you the impression you are dealing with real
human beings who are acting together in small groups, though you do not
experience them as different individuals. However, you do perceive them in a
totally different way than you would if you played “unit“ as a mere abstract.
Cities have their life points, too, and they can either put up a weak or a very strong defence. An attempted raid cannot only fail, it can actually end in disaster! This is a somewhat sobering view of the raiding seafarers. What they do is depicted with all the dangers and uncertainties, the risk of paying for some lousy loot with the death of crew members, or even never returning home but sleeping with the fishes forever.
The good news: If your unit of warriors
„die“, i.e. lose all their life points, they are not dead yet, but wounded to
such an extent that their number of life points will be considerably lower in
the next fight. The bad news: The wounded warriors are, of course, also weaker
now. If the unit lose all their life points a second time, they are then
considered dead and are removed from game. If the ship is no longer manned because
your first and also second unit of warriors are truly dead, it is removed from
the game. (It is lost to you.) This system also adds a lot to the realism of the gameplay.
The clear and well-structured combat system is easy to grasp and plays smoothly. How successful you are is determined by your attacking strength and choosing your targets wisely, but the dice add a random element of luck. The result of this combination convincingly simulates the actual hazards of a “Vikingfahrt”: However well you prepare, in reality you simply cannot achieve a total control on events and circumstances! To influence the probabilities in your own favour and prevent the worst from happening, all you can do is to plan ahead as well as you can and think your decisions through. The element of luck adds a lot of suspense to the gameplay, but it also helps you maintain the hope that next time fortune will smile at you again, even while you are failing.
And there is more good news: If at any point a Jarl finds himself without any ship or men, his settlement will immediately provide a new ship and unit of warriors! It rarely ever happens that your settlement has to throw you that lifeline, but it makes certain that all players can always continue to have fun together and game on. When all is said, this is what it’s all about, even in a most definitely non-cooperative game. We really like this simple solution because it excludes nobody and there is no interrution in the flow of the game.
happens during winter and spring:
After your “Vikingfahrt“ you will –
hopefully – have all the resources necessary to prepare for the coming summer
and to further develop your settlement.
You place food tokens on the seasons on your settlement. Food tokens can be replaced by coins; you “buy” food you do not have. Next you need to hire more men, train up your already existing units to become veterans, and of course you have to build things. This is important because the buildings give you certain advantages once they are finished. It is essential to have a larger number of reliable ships, too, and also more warriors manning them, because all those villages that are easy prey will soon be gone (due to certain activities of certain seafarers from way up north). The cities you will be trying to raid next will not be overcome by a handful of men in a glorified rowing boat. In fact, this is a very busy and fast-paced phase in VALHAL .
The zeal you invest in your own village is not unlke the joyous ecxitement you would feel when packing your bags for a world trip. Your setttlement must survive the long winter; the journeys of the summer ust be well prepared for so that the men and boats will return safely and laden with treasures – what could be more important? Nothing, absolutely nothing of what happens here will be without consequence. In fact, this is a very busy and fast-paced phase in VALHAL
How to win – or lose:
You win by collecting the most victory
points and thus being the first to reach the open gates of Asgard on the Favor
of the Gods display.
The gaming experience viewed from the
We tested VALHAL several times at our Dice & Mystics game nights: People who come to us expect to spend a nice, relaxing and entertaining time with good board games. Such guests only sit down at the table when the new game looks attractive and promises a great, varied gaming experience.
VALHAL immediately passes the visual test: As soon as the box is opened, there is a lot of interest. The artwork is appealing to all, and especially to some outspoken fans of the Viking culture, who admire the great care taken in the game design. They visibly enjoy the fact that the bold seafarers of the North, who so fascinate them, are not just props and decoration. During the following game rounds we constantly hear comments and observations about the life of the real Norsemen, their characteristics and their daily lives; the game arouses interest and furthers understanding.
There is no shortage of players. Setup takes a little time. Good things will take a while. Patiently and full of anticipation we endeavor to learn the rules for the impressive amout of components. What appeared a little complicated at first soon turns out to be quite easy to grasp. In the first round, the rules are still in the foreground, but everything works smoothly and effortlessly: We sit down, start playing, and have fun.
The first “Vikingfahrt“ is quite easily accomplished, although success is by no means guaranteed. In our very first trial round, all men and ships return successfully. The Jarls are happy. The first building projects commence in winter, in spring one of the settlements is proud to have their own blacksmith. When the second much more difficult “Vikingfahrt“ is in progress, the rules are crystal clear and the combat system does not need to be explained anymore.
The following summer it gets obvious that the first raid with the small easy-to-pillage villages had actually been some kind of tutorial. This is neat. It feels more natural to go through the steep learning curve within the actual gameplay rather than having to complete a separate practise session before. (In later game rounds, for a new gamer to be able to join in, a quic briefing about the bare essentials proves sufficient, everything else can be learned “on the fly”. Learning by Doing actually worked just fine!)
As the game proceeds, it turns out that it is not so easy to complete your buildings quickly enough and take advantage of them, if you had previously chosen to follow the less profitable but safer path. Two things become very evident. First, VALHAL rewards taking risks, not choosing the safest way. Second, the smallest mistake in your planning is going to mercilessly lead to serious consequences. That does make sense: The living conditions in the Viking age allowed no mistakes. So you have to be pretty alert and quick-witted. If you miscalculate your sea raids or fail to provide for he long winter or bring home too much of the wrong loot, you will have serious problems at hand – and there go your chances to become the most successful and most renowned settlement in all Fjörnheim. Winners as well as losers – all our gamers are enjoying themselves and want to play again as soon as possible.
At the following game nights and with the same paricpants, the gameplay is even more balanced. Everybody knows how it goes (or rather how Rattatöskr scuttles). Nonody is careless enough to naively attack the most harmless hamlet; all building activities, resource management and storage projects are planned more carefully and with better foresight; more ships and crews go a-viking, the game becomes more eventful, faster and more fluent, and whoever is going to win this time ramains open until he game is finished.
In the end, everybody applauds the winner, but although there is no envy
among the players, you can read it in their faces – resolutions are being made
to do everything differently and better the next time, all in order to win the
favor of the gods. That’s the way it is meant to be!
If it was not for this little horned guy, we might have taken a little longer to catch
our attention, but a glance round the corner and there he was, his little keen eyes
blinking up at us from his place on the corner of the table – and we stood spellbound!
We were captivated on the spot!
This little fellow is the messenger of the
Gods (the Asen), who came scuttling down the trunk of the world ash Yggdrasil
all the way down to our hung-over Vikings to deliver the dire message of the
angry management. This unusually attractive figurine is not needed for the game
itself, but renouncing him? No Viking way!
The messenger of the gods, a finely sculpted resin figure, and the attractive leather coasters with their beautiful ornaments are the extras that come with the special edition. But even without them the game VALHAL is a visual treat.
VALHAL is more than playable eye candy, it also has substance. It combines original, “organic” game mechanics with a historically correct and realistic representation of a popular theme. You can see very clearly what a huge amount of true passion and great care has been invested in the creation of this game. There is so much to do and experience, and although it is played taking turns, there is no downtime that deserves the name.
The Viking theme so convincingly portrayed by Nele Diehl is not an
illustration, it becomes tangible and alive. That is what makes VALHAL so special. Even the steep learning curve
at the beginning can be explained by the logical and convincing derivation of
the rules from the topic itself.
The playing time given by the publisher is a realistic estimate, as demonstrated
on several game nights. This makes VALHAL an interesting game not only for plays at home but also
for a game club. Several games one after the other, even with partial change of
players, are easily possible.
VALHAL appeals to different types of gamers, is entertaining, plays differently
each time and offers excellent value for money for a good and unusual game with
good production quality. Its moderate length makes it suitable for adults, but it
is easy enough to learn to be accessible to older children.
To sum up:
VALHAL has convinced
us: It’s great funthroughout! What
more can you possibly want? We are glad that we discovered this game which now enriches
our collection. „You should bring it to the table more often“, we’re being
told, und there are questions concerning the upcoming kickstarter…
(The Dice & Mystics thank the publisher
Tetrahedon Games for the free copy of their game.)
Apparently, this time and day board games are the hotness.
They seem to be so big „a thing“, they can now easily be used to promote huge
international brands and keep them rolling nicely. Sometimes quite literally.
I needed a new set of summer tyres for my car. While I made myself comfortable on a Ferrari red sofa with a nice cup of coffee for the wait, I casually glanced across to the “kid’s corner“. I had expected to see toy cars and wooden building bricks, picture books and the like. They were all there, of course, and even that inescapable dexterity “game“ where the child entertainee has to navigate some (theft-and-nonsense-proof) ring or other device along twisting wires and all kinds of challenges towards some goal within the construction. I find these contraptions ever so enticing and am very temped to give it a go, but when all is said I always end up not to because squatting down on one of those miniature chairs with my ears next to my knees would be too embarrassing…
But the dexterity game was clearly outshone this time buy a total of three boxes with different games all produced for promotional purposes. There was a “family game for up to 7 players“ titled “I love my Doblo“ designed after “Snakes and Ladders” meets “Game of Life“, having event spaces like “Mom is sick. Move back 5 spaces.“, “First soccer training. TraTransporting half the team. Advance 7 spaces.“ und “Puberty. 3 spackes backwards. Have an argument.“ (NOT joking here.)
The winner is whoever gets on the new Fiat Doblo in
the centre of the board first. If you can also ”beat“ the other player’s pieces
and send them back to “start“ like in other games was not explicit in the
rules. I have an idea that if you would like that, a little “house ruling“
would be in order. Sadly, playing pieces and dice were missing. (Which proves the point regarding the
self-defending precautions with any mobile components of the dexterity game.)
It is not just theme as such which is promoting the
brand here, there are also promotional statements inserted in the details. You
are informed there is a navigation system on board, or you stop on an event like
“Summer vacation. Taking the surf board along. Plenty of room. Advance 1 space“,
pointing out the advantages of the particular vehicle that is meant to be made
desirable to you . To be fair, there are actually just 5 (or maybe 6 if you
want to be a little more nit-picky) in a total of 19 event spaces that have any
reference to a car and its uses, and not every one of them is positive
Positives; there is one that tells you the car boot is too large and loading up
therefore takes forever, so you have to skip a
turn. (That is, of course, a fairly see-through tactics, but I would
still say it is “pretty clever“ – if that was not also some form of promoting a
saleable item.) The other events cover a wide range of landmarks in a young
person’s life like taking your very first steps, chickenpox, good marks at
school, the very first kiss and love sickness. You are, however, left with the impression
that as soon as you reach adulthood – and according to the editors of the game
– purchasing a nice large famlily cars
should be high on your list of priorities. This adds a whole new dimension to
the “family friendly“ attribute of a board game.
The card based game “Qubino“, a game “For young unconventional and lateral thinkers“.
Basically following the rules of “Domino“
while playing, the future customers are training themselves to acknowledge all
those reasons for buying the product that are being suggested to them from the
sales catalogue, at the same time bonding to the company’s logo.
Some form of unconventional thinking may be happening to
transfer the rules of “Domino“ onto “Qubino“, but there is no way the game teaches any independent lateral thinking to
the young gamers. On the contrary, this happens the less the more the game
actually achieves to be fun.
The two copies of a memory game were also next to
complete. I simply had to get down to
sorting the cards into their boxes! One of the games appeared complete by all
standards, the other one was lacking two cards, but this would not have impaired
the playability in a significant way if all you wanted was to pass some time
while u wait. All it would take was to remove those cards that were lacking a
double from the game.
I am not going to lie to you: That design was
ever so cool! So cool, I was seriously tempted to buy a copy if at all
possible. (I even asked but was told the
game was not available for purchse. Why
was that, I wondered. Such a pity.)
The slightly abstracted images in black white and red colours all shared the same theme; in a wider sense they all depicted automobiles, racing and lots of things related (will not start contemplating the broken hearts and lipstick prints, though). There were only two motifs showing the photographic images of the company logo and actual car models. It definitely had something there…
I am pretty much sure that most of you people who read
this have their own game collection with boxes neatly tucked away in you black
or white Kallax, and you buy your games online, from the retailer you trust, a
large department store, at your friendly local game shop or at conventions and
fairs like Spiel Essen. You play at your own gaming table – or any large table
in your house that doubles as such – and at your game club and other such obvious
places. But have you ever bought a game at the supermarket and eaten it up even
before you brought it to the table?
Alright, the latter concept sounds a bit extreme, but it is not entirely
impossible. There are, in fact, edible
games! Between boiled sweets, popcorn and chocolate bars, you can actually take
a bite out of Rummikub, Trivial Pursuit and Twister, as this find in the sweets
department of a large German supermarket chain gives proof of. The best time to
look for such specialities is before Christmas, but you can come across them
all year round.
You find all kids of old classics here: A candy
version of Twister, Uno made of chocolates, Ludo (Mensch ärgere dich nicht!)
and the “original” Monopoly. The latter might have been introduced to make the infamous
sentence “I hate Monopoly!” practically unutterable, at least among chocolate
lovers. Most of them have chocolate components with wrappers camouflaging them
as playing pieces of some sort and printed edible “paper”.
They are very playable, and if you have a good portion
of self-restraint some are perhaps even re-playable, but it would be safest to
avoid any AP, or the piece you want to place might melt in your hand. So much
is certain: These games are not recommended for temperatures of 30° Centigrade
or over, and they come with an expiry date.
They are very playable, and if you have a good portion
of self-restraint some are perhaps even re-playable, but it would be safest to
avoid any AP, or the piece you want to place might melt in your hand. So much
is certain: These games are not recommended for temperatures of 30° Centigrade
or over, and they come with an expiry date.
The idea to have a sweet review of the most positive
moments like in this edible game could be a nice addition to your New Year’s
Eve celebration. It is clearly reminiscent of „Trivial Pursuit“. A pity that
the box with its dial of trivia questions has outlived its purpose when empty.
Maybe it can be refilled for some re-playability.
In a few cases the game is not a high calorie re-make
of an existing game, but has itself and what you are doing with the content of
the box as a “theme”.
In this example, gummy drops in different colours and
flavours – nice and not so nice – come with a custom die. You roll and have to
face the “challenge” according to your result, namely eat the next gummy drop
the die has assigned to you. That is the game, all of it, and it comes with a
warning to stop playing well before you get sick.
Gosh and golly, when do you “play” such a thing? And
with whom? Was it inspired by Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans from Harry
Potter? In that case I would wish for a nicer box. I also did not buy it, so I
cannot vouchsafe if there was or was not any ear wax candy in it.
I can imagine torturing children who come a-trick-and-treating
on Halloween with this! Joke aside, it could work as a little Halloween prank
for the occasion, adding some extra “spice” to all the gruesome special effects
our home has been known for when it functions as the most popular Halloween
House for the children in the neighbourhood. That would make some sense. Problem
was, this beauty of a game only appeared on the clearing sale shelf in January,
but then it might have been around on time for the start of November, who can
say? I think I will actually keep my eyes peeled for this in October.
Would I twister myself around sweets and buy the
chocolate Munchopoly or any of the others? Certainly not. An edible game may
pass as a novelty gift from a gamer to a non-gamer and be considered original
and funny, but I am tempted to add “in a warped kind of way”. For somebody who does not normally enjoy
board games, the special “theme” would not really add a lot to the enjoyment of
the content. Maybe this would be different with an outright board game hater
who would gleefully destroy the whole box (and no real live game hurt in the
But what a cruel gift to give to any true board game
lover, or worse, to any serious board game collector!
On the bright side, they are ideal for those of us who
constantly face serious storage problems with every new game they acquire…
My suggestion: If you want to appease your sweet tooth
with a game related treat, bake a cake with a board game theme! There are great
examples of such cakes known to mankind, but however nice they are to behold,
they do not camouflage as playable, durable games but are first and for all a cake to enjoy with a nice cuppa on the
side – and then you can get out a real board game and play together with your