Reavers of Midgard

2-4 players, Competitive, Worker Placement Village Raiding

Designer: J.B. Howell

Artist: Yaroslav Radeckyi

Publisher: Grey Fox Games

Origin Story

Years ago I had the honor of playing a game called Champions of Midgard and although I liked it, I didn’t think I really needed to own it. Then the brother of that game popped up on Kickstarter titled, Reavers of Midgard. Now the title instantly grabbed my attention but as I looked it over I eventually decided to pass on backing it primarily because I just thought it was going to have too many similarities to Champions of Midgard.

Well, Reavers is finally hitting shores and retail outlets and it popped up on my radar again recently and after looking it over I finally pulled the trigger and picked me up a copy, primarily due to the vibrant colors on the game board itself, (I go wild for vibrancy). So after playing a few games what did I think of it and how does it compare to Champions of Midgard? Read on reading to get the answers to these pressing questions plus many more!

Overview of Gameplay

In Reavers, players will be leading their very own Viking horde raiding keeps and villages, trading with the locals, subduing lands and of course recruiting even more Viking hordes to make all of the above easier. To accomplish all of these feats players will take turns placing their cool little wooden ship meeple on a specific action space on the game board. Once placed the player will pay whatever costs are associated with that space, such as food or particular dice and then take the action which will reward the player with glorious goodies.

So, all that sounds like pretty standard worker placement fare eh? And for the most part it really is, HOWEVER the nice twist to this is that when a player places their ship and takes the action, each OTHER player can also take that same action if they also pay the required fee. The big difference is that the main player here gets a bonus attached to the action whereas everyone else gets a lesser bonus or none at all depending on player order. Not only that but as you start gaining more and more Viking cards to join you, you can slot them under specific spots on your personal player board. Now, whenever anyone takes that particular action on the main game board, you also get a bonus that is listed on the slotted Viking cards.

Around and around this will continue with each player placing and taking actions until each player has placed their ships on the board then any cards remaining on the board that were not gobbled up are discarded and the entire board it refreshed with new cards drawn from their respective decks. Players collect their ship meeples and then a new round begins. Players will do this for 6 rounds and then at the end will calculate their total VP’s which in this game are called “Glory” (of course), and whoever has the most glory wins!

Components/Game Board

As I mentioned above the game board itself is what drew me back to the game and let me tell you it is a gorgeous board. The main board has placings outlined for each of the card decks and special spots for the card placements. If you flip the game board over you can play a 2 player game with slightly altered setup. The individual player boards are of a nice thickness and sturdy and have spots dedicated for dice and your leader card. They also represent you ship that you are using to sail to various places on the board to raid and trade so it adds a nice theme to it as well.

Just a small taste…..

The dice, and hoooo boy are there a lot of dice, are REALLY nice. There are bookoos of blue, red and yellow dice all with nice unique emblems etched into the sides and a few black battle dice as well. They have a nice weight to them and look very vivid and colorful like most everything else in the game. The cards have a nice premium feel to them as well and have the standard card size as well as the mini size. The rest of the components in the retail version are pretty standard cardboard pieces and nothing to crow over and there are quite a few of them. I do like the cool little wooden ship meeples player’s use for their placement pieces. Aside from the dice those are my fav pieces in the game. Oh, one other thing that kinda bugged me was the Glory point tracker tokens for each player. They are just basic little round pegs, would have been super nice to at least print “100” on one side of each of them to notate when a player surpasses that illustrious 100 point spot on the track. Just a small touch but would have made a world of difference.

Box/Storage

There is a plastic insert with the game but mehhhhhh. I always enjoy a good insert but this one just squeals meh to me. There are spots to hold the cards which is always welcome so I don’t have to bag them up BUT there is just one other big gap for everything else so you HAVE to bag all the tokens up. And you will want to bag the tokens up individually unless you just want a giant pile of various tokens to scrounge through every time you play. No good spots to store the dice either so those will all have to be bagged up. And even after you bag up everything there is a specific spot to put the player boards but the amount of tokens that are bagged bulges those up a bit so the board that sits on top of that doesn’t sit even.

And even after all that there is still a bit of a gap between the board and the lid so if storing the game on its side, you might run into a bit of a card mess from them not being secure in the insert. Overall, not a huge fan of the insert included with the game although the box itself is nice and has some great artwork adorned on all sides…….Except for the sides on the bottom box where there are random advertisements for more games……ugh. I always hate seeing advertisements on boxes as it just kills the beauty of the game.

Visual Appeal /Theme

Visually the game is amazing! The colors on the board are very pleasing to the eyes and the artwork throughout is just incredible. The dice all look incredibly nice as well with each being very easily distinguishable. The artwork on the Viking cards themselves is very well done and I find myself actually inspecting each new card I acquire closely to see all the fine details.

The board’s art is also very finely crafted with little hints and tugs of the eyes all about. Even though I love they have outlined the spaces for the decks and cards on the board, I find myself attracted to the 2 player side as it allows a better view of the board itself with less deck outlines. Those beautiful castles and villages sprawled all over the landscape are a marvel to behold.

I think they did a really good job integrating the theme with the gameplay here. I mentioned it earlier but your player board is your ship which can be upgraded to more easily handle ship battles. It holds your leader Viking card on the ship itself which is neat and all the other Viking cards you acquire go under the edge of the ship to kinda show that they are also passengers. There are also interesting choices to make within the game that adds to this. For example when you “Raid Villages”  you get to pick a combo of two cards with glorious items aplenty. BUT on some of those cards there are extra choices of stuff to take accompanying a negative thing. So, you could JUST raid the village and take what you need OR you can take that AND pillage the village acquiring even more goodies……with a cost of a terror token which is worth negative points at the end. This kinda stuff really enhances the overall theme of the game.

Rulebook

This is so very close to being a good rulebook. It’s got a good setup and design and is colorful and has picture examples and full page component lists and does a pretty good job of explaining what is there……BUT there are so many missed rules pieces that I did have to visit the forums more than a few times to get clarification on a number of things. And most of the stuff that was missed is pretty standard stuff that you would think would have been caught if the rulebook was read through and tested by an outside party that didn’t design the game. Overall not a terrible rulebook and certainly not the worst I have ever seen, *cough Conan *weez, but could use a errata for sure. Also, and this is a big one for me, where is the rules references? At the very minimum have the actions step by step printed on the very back of the manual for ease of reference. There are a couple reference cards that show some detail of the game that honestly, I will never use but there is no rules reference to be found.

Player Interaction/Fun Factor

Now this is a huge win for this game! The sheer amount of player interaction here is simply stunning. And it’s not even so much as each player is directly interacting with each other as it is each player is always engaged. As the game progresses and players start adding more Vikings to their ship they will unlock extra actions/goodies even during every other player’s turns. So, when player one takes a certain action, if ANY other player has a Viking slotted into that action spot on their player board, then they can collect the denoted items listed on the bottom of each Viking card in that slot. Furthermore, after that player finishes his turn, each other player can also choose to take that same action as well or rest to regain some food or dice. There is just not hardly a bit of downtime in this game and I loooooove that.

As far as fun is concerned I can tell you this game is much more strategic than it is luck based. Take that as you will as some players love the thrill of rolling some dice and seeing what may come whereas other prefer to have complete control over their destiny. This game has a bit of both as there are dice but most of the time you have the choice whether you would roll them and see what happens or just use collected materials to achieve your plunderous ends. And I am happy to say that the thrill of dice rolling is still here for those luck based peeps! For example, when performing the ship battle action you have the choice whether you want to discard a certain variety of dice just to collect the card OR you could battle it! To battle it you still have to discard “Hammer” dice, for each hammer you get one battle dice to roll. If you roll at least equal to the defensive value on the card, you win! Also you can use those honor tokens you’ve been collecting to reroll dice. It is a thrill to go for the battle option and win but also a risk.

Optimal Player Count/Replayability

I do think the game plays a bit better at a higher player count and seems like it was made to be a 4 player game from the get go. There are 6 possible placement spots on the board so not everything will get taken every round. At three players there is another ship meeple that the starting player gets to place again after everyone else goes so, basically 4 players. And during a two player game each player places two ships one after the other, so again there will always be 4 ships being placed no matter which player count is played.

The replay value is decent here as there are numerous different cards in the decks to view. And the amount of different collected cards that form sets gives plenty of options going forward. However, even after one 4 player game I pretty much had seen just about everything the game had to offer in the form of all the cards. There are different strategies that can be tried by visiting different areas more than the other though so this will at least keep the game interesting for a bit.

Positive Final Thoughts

Reavers of Midgard is a very colorful and beautiful game rife with immense amounts of player engagement. I would recommend playing a full 4 player game as there is almost zero downtime and all players are always engaged. The artwork and board is just out of this world gorgeous.  I love the options that are available to either roll the dice and test your luck or just go straight for the resource exchange like a true euro game. The options and the perfect blending of them means that almost any player can visit this game and enjoy it.

Negative Final Thoughts

The included insert isn’t nearly what I had hoped it would be as you basically bag everything up anyway and the rulebook needs a bit of work with additional rules to explain some of the ambiguities. There isn’t much variability with the game so pretty much every game you will see the same cards and always the same actions.

The Bottom Line

For worker placement games this is by far the best one for player engagement. I mean every other worker placement I have played there is always a bit (and sometimes a lot) of downtime between turns. This game however I would never be afraid to play at the full player count for fear of boredom. Each and every player will always be engaged and “into” the game. There isn’t much replayability though so I don’t see it coming out THAT often but when it does it will be a fun time! And just good gravy man, the board is just incredibly beautiful.

The Fuzzy Llama Silver Seal of Distinction

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