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Vikings - Board Game Box Shot


| Published: 2007
80 17 4
Each player is the leader of a band of Vikings. His task is to scout and then settle the islands off the coast of his homeland. As the Vikings uncover the size and shape of the islands, each band seeks to control as much of these new lands as possible. The bands build yards and churches and invite goldsmiths, scouts, fishermen, and nobles to settle on their island to establish the most profitable settlements. But, warriors are also necessary! As, the islands soon attract ships bound to attack them to pillage the new settlements. Vikings
images © Rio Grande Games

User Reviews (3)

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Amateur Advisor
Critic - Level 1
147 of 154 gamers found this helpful
“A light but solid development game”

Vikings is a fairly light but still strategic game of settling a set of islands with hard-working vikings. Each turn you draft one island tile/viking combo, and use it to build up your personal island chain. Each viking has a different ability, such as earning money or points or fighting off invaders. At the start of each round the island tile/viking combos are arranged around a circular drafting wheel with ascending numbers indicating how much each combo costs. As the cheaper combos are purchased, the price of the more expensive ones comes down – but if you wait too long for something to become affordable, it might be gone! The advanced version of the game adds additional bonus tiles to be had if you buy the most expensive island tile/viking combo, encouraging you to spend big.

I have played Vikings primarily as a 2-player game with my wife, and have liked it pretty well. It isn’t too long (under an hour for us) or too complicated, but still has a good bit of strategy and is always very satisfying. I do not like it so well as a 3-4 player game. It certainly works for 3-4, but for that number I prefer games with more interaction (e.g. Settlers or Puerto Rico). With 4 in particular you don’t really have any power over the person to your right. But with the back-and-forth drafting in the 2-player game there is more tension, and I think it works well.

The standard version of the game (without the bonus tiles) plays well, and is a good way to start, but can be rather bland, and seem quite similar from session to session. The bonus tiles, some of which strongly boost certain strategies, give the game some extra inhomogeneity that I find makes it more interesting, and I enjoyed the game more once we started playing with them.

Still, the biggest weakness of this game overall is its lack of excitement. I’m a full on Eurogamer; I’m not looking for splash and bang, but Vikings is still a little lacking in the fascination department. There is optimization, and certainly some strategy, but I never feel like there’s something I’ve just got to figure it out. I enjoy playing it, and always feel satisfied after a session, but never have a strong itch to play it again. The components are also very attractive, contributing to the generally pleasant experience. So overall it is solid, enjoyable, and recommended (particularly for 2), but not a must-have.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Gamer - Level 3
141 of 148 gamers found this helpful
“Marvelous game of strategy and dynamics”

Vikings is strategic tile-based game where players spend gold to buy both a viking and an island tile, and place them in their tableau to their best advantage. The game board includes a score track, a round track, and the payment wheel; the payment wheel is one of the central mechanics of the game. The wheel has 12 slots, numbered 0 – 11, each corresponding with a location where a tile and viking combo will rest. The number of the slot determines the cost for that set. There are two types of tiles in the game, islands and ships, and six different types of vikings. Each player also receives a player base. The game plays over 6 rounds, then a final scoring round occurs and the victor is determined.

When the game is setup all the tiles are shuffled then arranged into stacks of 12 tiles, then placed on the round track. At the beginning of each round the next tile stack is removed from the round track and distributed around the payment wheel. Islands are start at 0 and work up to 11 while ships start at 11 and work down to 0. Finally 12 vikings are chosen from a cloth bag and arranged on the offered tiles, always in the same color order. Players take turns buying the tiles until there are no titles left to purchase. A player must buy a tile, and may buy any tile he can afford, the only exception being the tile priced at 0, which can only be purchased when no other vikings of the same color are available, or the player cannot afford any of the offered tiles. When the tile at 0 is purchased the wheel is rotated clockwise until another tile is worth 0. When a tile is purchased it is immediately placed in the player’s play area; however, the tile must be orthogonally adjacent to another tile or the the player base. Any island tiles must be played correctly orientated, and the tile’s edges must match those it is adjacent to (water to water and land to land), otherwise the tile is discarded from play. All ship tiles are played in the first row of the player’s tableau.

Each viking color corresponds to a particular fashion of scoring in the game, though wile every tile will be played, not every viking will come into play. Each row in the player’s tableau corresponds to one of the vikings, and if an island is placed in the same row as the viking that came with the tile, then the viking can be placed on the tile just played, otherwise he’s set on the player’s base. Vikings score when they are on islands, with the only exception being the boatsmen, who score vikings on the base.

The game has a fascinating depth of strategy, as players not only must choose which tiles they want, weighed against which vikings they want, they must also manage the payment wheel. Careful selection of the tile/viking combo will reward the player, and skillful management of the payment wheel can force an opponent to take a disadvantageous tile/viking set. Vikings is a marvelous game of strategy and dynamics.

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133 of 140 gamers found this helpful
“Easy to play, but hard to master”

Vikings is an economic tile-placement game. Each player has to acquire islands on which they may place vikings. There are six different types of vikings (represented by colored meeples) with different powers : giving you gold or victory points, allowing you to place other vikings on the islands, defending your islands against war ships, or feeding your people.

Game play

On their turn, each player must buy a tile and its associated viking. The tiles represent either a part of an island or a war ship. The specificity of the game is that the tiles are initially placed around a price wheel, costing 0 to 11 gold. You cannot take the 0-gold tile unless it is the last of the viking’s color, and once this 0-gold tile is taken, the wheel turns until the 0 spot reaches a new tile, making expensive tiles cheaper. The player must then place the tile on their personal board, adjacent to an already placed tile. They may place the viking on this tile, if it is in the correct row.

The game plays in six rounds. At the end of every round, you earn gold depending on the number of goldsmiths you placed, and every two rounds there is also a big scoring phase to earn victory points according to the ships and the other vikings you placed.

Why I like this game

I played it over 20 times, mostly in 2-player games, and I still enjoy it. You are competing with the other players to get the right set at the right time, you can pay more to take tiles that your opponents want, and they will do the same.
I personally think it plays best with two players, because my friends and I like to play aggressively, and with more than two players you loose some control over what you get.
There is a variant provided in the rulebook, with bonus tiles that really add variety to the game, and thus, replayability.

Why it is difficult to master

I find that the game is difficult to master, because on each scoring phase, a lot of parameters enter into account, and in the last scoring phase there are even more. Maybe too many parameters, because sometimes it seems that a player is doing very well and in the end they can get behind someone who has always been struggling to get resources and/or to place their vikings.


Vikings is a fast-playing Euro-style game, very strategic and with much interaction. It surely isn’t a must-have for casual gamers, but I recommend it for “avid gamers”. Moreover, it is a good-looking game, and I love the wooden meeples !


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