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Blood Rage

14 out of 14 gamers thought this was helpful

Vikings. Valhalla. Victory! In Blood Rage, you control a viking clan that does potentially does battle in various regions, but not for resources. Instead, you fight for glory. Glory through victory and glory through death. A worker placement and area control game w/ lots of combat….sometimes. How does it look and play?

Art & Components
As w/ most, if not all CMON games, the components are great and the minis are amazing. Each clan’s standard soldiers have 2 molds. There is 1 Leader per clan and an assortment of large and small monsters. All models are extremely detailed as expected. The board itself is nice and sturdy, but still light. The cards are small, but tolerable given how much space the game takes. The text on the cards is not too small to read for how small the cards are. The art? Adrian Smith’s work is great. It’s a nice dark, gritty tone on a pseudo-low-fantasy take on Norse mythology.

Rules & Mechanics
The rules flow so well for how medium-heavy this game is. One round of play and you’ll probably know exactly how to play w/o asking any questions. The game and subsequent rounds (called “Ages”) start w/ card drafting, followed by the action phase which includes 1 action per player and goes around until all players pass or have no more Rage (the resource) to do the actions. Actions include moving units, upgrading your clan, and initiating combat. Combat being resolved by combining unit strength in a province along w/ simultaneous card revealing. Eventually, zones (provinces) on the board are destroyed along w/ any models in that zone. All dead models go to Valhalla, but at the end of a round return to your clan’s play area to be used again in the next Age. There are 3 Ages and the winner who is gets the most Glory (rewarded through winning combats, completing quests of area control, and even dying!). Your Clan’s tableau board also conveniently has all the Action Phase rules on it.

The theme isn’t necessarily strong, per se, there are some nice thematic touches like being rewarded for going to Valhalla or having provinces being destroyed by Ragnarok. It’s a great theme, one of which I love, and one that can be felt if you choose to immerse yourself. But it could also easily be re-skinned into something else (see the upcoming Rising Sun or I sometimes think of how a farming/ranching game could probably be skinned over this).

Pros & Cons
– great minis and art
– easy to learn, despite it’s complexity weight
– layers of decision-making that can change on the fly
– lots of choices, but none are really ever wrong
– you can play anywhere on the aggressive spectrum and still have a chance at winning

– multiple plays can still feel similar or like deja vu (can be fixed w/ rotation of expansions)
– some strategies (i.e. Loki strategy) are usually clear-cut winners
– despite it’s ease to learn, there are some dinky rules that can be easily forgotten
– sometimes, depending on player count, there is just a LOT going on on the board

Overall, I think this game can easily be recommended to any fan of conflict-oriented Euros. All but one player I’ve played with – new players and returning – have at least thought the game was good, if not loved it. It’s Euro-y w/ some Ameritrashiness, but any type of board gamer should do themselves a favor and play this game at least once!

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Bottom of the 9th

108 out of 117 gamers thought this was helpful

One of my favorite light, fast games to play.

It’s simply a dice-rolling game, but w/ a great old-school baseball theme behind it. It even has some speed rolling components as you have a dice roll race to see if a batter gets on base.

The Staredown (bluffing aspect) is fun. Although it just includes 2 aspects to bluff, it is both fun to literally stare down your opponent and adds some risk/reward value as the Pitcher may lose some stamina (his ability to throw his signature pitch) if he chooses his signature pitch during the Staredown. However, losing stamina isn’t too game-breaking as I’ve lost as a Batter to a Pitcher who had basically 0 Stamina for the last 2 outs.

Each Batter and Pitcher has their own abilities, based on their successful Staredown results, as well as some having passive abilities that are always in play (such as having bonuses against Left- or Right-handers). This adds to the replay value, which is already high as the game is a great 5~15 minute filler game with some fun dice-rolling to be had.

The rules are easy to learn, pretty much everything is covered in the book (I think the only vague thing is if Batters always get the Staredown bonus if a Pitcher runs out of stamina for a respective location token), but I always play to give the Batter the automatic bonus if a Pitcher is at 0 Stamina. Also, I don’t believe it says if baserunners advance 2 bases on a double, but I presume since it doesn’t say that, then they do not. The one thing I have trouble memorizing is the contact/strike/ball chart based on what dice your Pitcher rolls. But that’s just me and my bad memory!

The components are great. The wood tokens and meeples are standard-to-high quality. The dice are sleek and the cards are reminiscent of old school baseball cards. The style of the cards are nice and nostalgic and easy to read and understand.

Overall, I can’t get enough of this game. The theme intimidates some friends of mine whom I’ve offered to play, but everyone tends to like it, if not love it, after a game. It’s a great filler game to play while taking a break between heavier games. Or someone else in your group is setting up for another game! ^_^

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