Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga - Board Game Box Shot

Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga

, | Published: 2004
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Other Viking Games have come and gone, but one game lived on the lips of gamer’s everywhere: Fire & Axe. This gem has been out of print for over a decade and going for North of $200 dollars second hand ever since.

The legend returns in a brand new deluxe edition from Pandasaurus Games and IDW Games. Every care has been taken to update this classic game with all new, breathtaking art and design, inimitable miniatures and top notch components.

The King is back, and looks better than ever:

Fire and Axe Publisher Image 1

For the first print run only, we will be including 25 each of the Shield Maiden and Archer figures (5 in each player color). So, be sure you contact your favorite game store and make sure you get a first edition copy reserved.

Fire and Axe Publisher Image 2

“Norse law dictates that every man shall posses a weapon at all times."

The need to swiftly wield an axe in the name of battle, honor or revenge was ever-present. Valhalla will not be filled with the weak.

In Fire & Axe, you will vie for glory across three epic Viking sagas, each one a different journey to raid, trade and settle territories. Will you choose the path of diplomacy and trade for victory? Or will your longship cast a bloody wake?

Start your journey by gathering crew and goods to outfit your boat. Will your ships be filled with warrior or goods? Settlers or sackers? After your launch from bustling ports into the open sea, you must choose your path to power.

But don’t get lost in the wind; the sea will gladly devour souls who take her lightly…

"The life of a Viking is one of power and glory, or untold sorrow. Which shall be your destiny?

Fire and Axe Publisher Image 3

User Reviews (1)

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USA
I play blue
El Dorado
Guardian Angel
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50 of 56 gamers found this helpful
“Pillage & Plunder!”

INTRODUCTION
Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga (F&A) takes place from the late 8th century to the early 11th century during the golden age of the Norsemen known as the ‘Viking Age’. Players send their Viking longboats on a series of voyages to Europe and beyond. The theme is well represented in the game. The object of the game is to acquire the most gold (VPs) by trading, raiding towns, establishing settlements in foreign lands and obtaining Glory. F&A is for 3 to 5 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 90 minutes. F&A is at its best with 4 or 5 players.

COMPONENTS
I own the 2004 edition, which is a refined version of Viking Fury, but will comment on the latest edition where possible. The components are excellent. The mounted board is big and beautiful. The latest version also sports a large board with redesigned charts for better functionality. However, the wood paneling look on the new board is not for everyone. There are plastic figures and thick cardboard tokens. The linen cards are durable and have average artwork. The artwork on the cards in the latest version is fantastic and much improved. The longboat player boards in the newer version also have much improved artwork and actually look like boats, reinforcing the theme. The rulebook is in full color, very well written and organized, and contains many examples of play.

SET UP
Set-up for F&A is quick and easy. Each player is given a longboat and figures in their color. Players also receive an amount of starting gold depending on their place in turn order. The first player receives 1 gold, second player 2 gold and so on. The towns are placed in their designated locations on the board along with some miscellaneous tokens. The Rune deck is shuffled and one card dealt to each player. Finally the Saga deck is constructed. The Saga deck consists of three eras which feature Viking events that occurred in history. Each era has nine cards, but three cards are removed from each era. Each era is individually shuffled and then placed on top of one another with Era III on the bottom and Era I on the top. The top three Saga cards are then drawn at the start of the game. Sounds like a lot, but doesn’t take much time at all!

GAME MECHANICS
F&A is played in a series of player turns in which each player receives up to 7 Days or actions. Turn order proceeds clockwise. Players may perform any of the following actions:

1. Load a good or crewman.
2. Draw a Rune card.
3. Move longboat.

LOAD GOODS & CREWMEN
Players prepare their longboat for voyage by placing crewmen and/or goods on their longboat board for 1 Day each. As the Eras progress, the longboats become bigger and can hold more stuff. With the exception of some Rune cards, longboats can only be loaded in the Wintering Box. Once loading is complete, the ship token is moved to one of the three Home Ports (Denmark, Norway or Sweden).

DRAW RUNE CARD
Players have the option to draw Rune cards for 1 Day each up to a maximum hand of three cards when their ship token is in a Home Port. The ship token must be moved out of the Home Port to play a Rune card. Rune cards grant bonuses to attacking and movement and also allow players to hinder their opponents’ progress lending to a “screw your neighbor” type of mechanic. It does not cost an action to play a Rune card.

MOVE LONGBOAT
A player may move his longboat to an adjacent sea, river or port space for 1 Day each. Ship movement is restricted by the Clear Sailing Limit as indicated on the Wind Dial. The board is broken into 4 zones – North, South, East and West each with their own Clear Sailing Limit. The Clear Sailing limit can be increased or decreased a maximum of one by turning the Wind Dial. Players may give the Wind Dial a quarter turn whenever they use or discard a Rune card. The Clear Sailing Limit is the most complicated rule of the game. Multiple ship tokens can occupy any sea, river or Home Port spaces. Only one ship token can occupy a port space.

Once a ship token is moved into a port space, one of three tasks may be performed for free. The tasks include:

Trade: Remove a good token from your longboat and place it on the port. The player gains gold equal to the port’s value. If the good is in demand, then the player gains the port value plus two.
Raid: If a town is present the player may attack (raid) it. The player may roll 1D6 for each crewman up to a maximum of three dice. Each die is rolled one at a time. The raid is successful if the die roll exceeds the value of the port. On a success, the town is removed and the player receives the gold amount indicated on the bottom of the town figure. If the roll is unsuccessful, then the player removes a crewman from his longbow and continues to roll other dice. A goods token in the port reduces the value of the port by one, making it easier to raid.
Settle: If no town is in the port space or region, then the player may attempt to settle it, which is another form of attacking. A region is a color coded group of ports on the board. The player may roll 1D6 for each crewman up to a maximum of three dice. All the dice are rolled at once. The player removes a crewman from his longboat for any roll which does not exceed the port value. If at least one die exceeds the port value, then the settling attempt is successful and one crewman is moved from the longboat to the port. Similar to raiding, a goods token in the port reduces the value of the port by one, making it easier to settle.

Players can collect Saga cards if they complete the requirements on any of the three face-up cards during their turn. The Saga cards may require a particular set of ports to be traded with or settled, or certain towns to be raided. At the end of their turn, a player may choose to Winter his longboat, which means it is sent to the Wintering Box to prepare for another voyage. A longboat which becomes crewless during a player’s turn is automatically sent to the Wintering Box and the player’s turn is ended.

The game ends when all the Saga cards have been completed or the ending three turns have been completed. There are only three turns left when the last Saga card is drawn. VPs for settlements and Saga cards are tallied and added to players’ VPs obtained during the game. The player who has raided the most cities achieves the “Bloodied Axe” bonus and receives 3 VPs for each city raided, adding them to his other VPs. The player with the most VPs is the winner.

THOUGHTS
Fire & Axe is an easy game to learn and play but takes a few plays to learn the tactics. It is a heavy medium weight game which I would recommend for avid and power gamers. There is a lot of strategy in loading longboats, choosing which Saga card to complete and using Rune cards effectively. There are a lot of decisions for players to make during the course of the game. It feels as though a player needs to get into the rhythm of the game. That is a player needs to recognize when he should voluntarily Winter and prepare for the next Saga card draw. There is a lot of subtle strategy that gives F&A a surprising amount of depth.

Despite the fact there is very limited direct conflict between players, there is still a good amount of player interaction. Players can use Rune cards against their opponents, manipulate the Wind Dial to hinder their opponents’ movement or outmaneuver their opponents to ‘steal’ a Saga card. This game really does have a nice balance of player interaction.

Similar to many games with dice and card draws, luck can be a factor. The dice can be fickle or very generous to a player when raiding or settling. The draw of the Rune cards could also be good, bad or ugly too. Sometimes the Rune cards you’re drawing don’t seem helpful because your opponents are using theirs to the fullest potential. I find that if I keep drawing them, I’ll find a game changer too. Overall, during the course of the game each player usually has his share of good and bad luck.

Fire & Axe is an excellent, fun game with great theme play. It is still one of my favorite games despite its age. F&A combines a nice mix of theme, player interaction, depth and luck to deliver a tremendous gaming experience! I highly recommend adding Fire & Axe to your collection.

 

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