Grab your axes and spears, summon the sea monster, pray to Odin that you will find your place in Valhalla, for today, we play Blood Rage.
Blood Rage is a 4-person game (expandable to five) designed by Eric Lang with art by Henning Ludvigsen, Mike McVey, and Adrian Smith.
The game is published by CMON Limited, Asmodee, Asterion Press, BoardM Factory, and more. The game was released in 2015 after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
So let’s take a look at setup.
First, place the beautifully designed board in the center of the table so it’s accessible to all players. Then, each player picks which clan they would like to be. The four clans in the core box are Snake, Wolf, Bear, and Raven. If you are using the fifth player expansion (sold separately) then you will have access to the Ram clan, too. For the purpose of this writing, we will be using only four.
Once their clan is decided, each player will need to get one of each type of warrior, including a ship, and their corresponding leader. The warriors are the tan miniatures. Monsters that can be summoned later are the gray miniatures.
Each player will need to receive their clan card and also four markers to be placed on the Rage track, and the Rage, Horns, and Axes tally.
Place the corresponding honor tracker on the outside track of the board. This will be used to track honor throughout the game.
Place the Valhalla card next to the board, again so all players can reach it. Then place the Ragnarok card by the board.
Shuffle all three of the Ages decks individually and place them on the appropriate spot on the Ragnarok card.
Randomly select a province card and place it’s destroyed side on the corresponding province. This province is already destroyed before the game begins. Note: the number of provinces destroyed at the beginning of a game will change based on the number of players in a game.
Of the provinces left, randomly select three and place them on the Ragnarok card. These will be the provinces that are destroyed at the end of an age. During each age, a doom counter will be placed on the province that will be destroyed at the end of the age.
Finally, deal out cards from the first age deck to each player. This number will vary depending on the number of players.
You are finally ready to play the game.
To begin play, each player will look at their age cards and select one. They will then pass the remaining cards to their right. Drafting will continue in this manner until there are two cards remaining in the hand. Those cards are then discarded. This is the hand you will be using during the age.
To decide who goes first, the rules say whoever was born the furthest north will be player one. Use any method you deem appropriate if this one doesn’t suit you.
During your turn, you will be able to take only one action. These actions include Invading, upgrading, pillaging, moving, and questing.
To invade, you must pay the appropriate number of Rage equal to the warrior’s strength. Then place it on the board on any open position except Yggdrasil. Your leader can deploy for free.
Once placed, warriors and leaders can be moved at the cost of one Rage.
To use an upgrade, again, you must pay the appropriate Rage and then place it in the correct spot on your clan card. If you have upgraded your warriors and or leader, you may play that figure for free.
Monsters are also considered upgrades. When you play a Monster upgrade, you take the model and play it in an open area. Some monsters have an enter the battlefield effect, so you may want to wait to play it.
To pillage an area, you must declare your intent to pillage and you must have a model in the province. Pillaging cost no Rage.
Once your intent to pillage has been declared, you have initiated a call to arms. During the call to arms, any player that has a model in an adjacent province may move it into the province you’re attempting to pillage. This must be done one model at a time with each player taking a turn. This continues until all villages are occupied or until no player wants to add to the pillage.
Once completed, combat begins.
To do combat, each player in the combat selects a card from their hand and places it face-down in front of them. Each player then reveals the cards together. The player with the highest strength wins the combat.
The winner discards all cards revealed this way while the winner gets to return their revealed cards back to their hand. Only the player who declared the pillage gets to reap the rewards and earn the Glory for the fight. If the pillaging player loses, no one gains anything. All models belonging to the player(s) that lost the combat are removed from the board and placed in Valhalla.
Questing is an action that does not require Rage. Quests usually result in earned Glory if completed during the Age. Quests are placed face-down on your clan card. They are revealed at the end of the age.
Once a player is out of Rage, they can take no more actions. Even actions that are free (quests) can’t be done.
Once all players are out of rage and can take no more action, the Age comes to a close.
Each player must discard all but one card. Then all quests are revealed. If completed, the player earns the appropriate Glory. The quests are then discarded. Finally, Ragnarok happens and the “doomed” province, and all models in it, are destroyed.
Once all Glory points are counted and the counters moved across the board, all fallen warriors are released from Valhalla and returned to their players. You are now ready to begin the second age.
Each of the last two Ages are played out the same as the first one.
Determining the Winner
To win the game you must earn the most Glory. When the game comes to an end, you total all Glory points earned and move the counter. The person with the highest total wins.
So, I may be biased because I love miniatures (seriously, Games Workshop games are my first love) but this game is fantastic. The turns are easy to play, the rules, while many, are easy to understand, and the game play is smooth. Plus, the attention to detail in crafting the miniatures is outstanding. It is clear, there was a lot of passion and painstaking care taken with this game.
Normally, a game with so many pieces (there is a ton!) is not one I would recommend as a game to travel with; however, this is a game that needs to be played with many people. So, if you got a pub with a board game night, take it! I suspect you will draw a ground.
This game is an absolute blast to play and a must have for all board gamers. Seriously, play this game.
© 2017, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.