I’ve decided to be a lemming as of late and give into the hype that is Blood Rage. For those that may not be aware of the said hype then let me enlighten you. Blood Rage was funded through Kickstarter and soon after its release became almost everyone’s must have game of 2015. This doesn’t usually dictate my decision to purchase a game but this one had my interest. The miniatures and theme really had its meat hooks into me. I was a little put off by the area control aspect but I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s time for Blood Rage!
Blood Rage has each player taking control of their own Viking clan and Ragnarök (end of the world) has arrived. It’s now the task of each Viking Clan to die with the honor of battle and earn their place in Valhalla (Viking Heaven). Each clan will have to invade and pillage the land, destroy your opponents in epic battles, gain the experience of battle, complete quests, and inevitably die in gloriously battle or from Ragnarök. The Vikings aren’t the only ones looking to attain glory before death. Monsters and minions of all walks of life are looking to taste battle as well and are even willing to join sides with your Viking Clan. All of these will gain the glory (end game points) needed to proclaim the title of King Viking.
You cannot talk about components in this game without bringing up the miniatures. They are quite possibly some of the coolest components in a game that I have ever seen. I can’t even imagine how much it would take away from the game if these pieces were not in the box. They are highly detailed and very durable. They will bring so much life to your game. The board and cards are very functional and accessible though I wouldn’t call them stunning. My only complaints with the components is the font they used for the titles of the locations can be difficult to read. This will definitely be an attractive game for anyone who likes miniatures.
This game is broken up into 3 ages (rounds) with each round having 6 phases. I’ll briefly run them down but I wont get into too much detail.
The first phase is the God’s Gifts phase which players will receive 8 cards from the specific age deck that they are in and will choose one card to keep for the upcoming round. Players then pass the remaining cards in clockwise order. This continues until all players have 6 cards. The remaining cards will not be used.
The second phase is the action phase which players will be utilizing their Rage (action point allowance) to perform various acts. This acts include Invading with your tribe and placing miniatures on the board. March will let you move your tribe around the board that have already been placed. Upgrade allows players to play cards that will give them permanent abilities to utilize. Quest allows players to commit a quest card from their hand that if completed at the end of the age will give them extra glory (points). Pillage will allow players to attack a region that they occupy which can be contested by enemy players that are in or around that region. This phase concludes when players have exhausted all their Rage.
The third phase is the discard phase which each player will discard down to 1 card if needed. This helps to keep the cards fresh and the game less stagnant.
The fourth phase is the quest phase which each player will discard the committed quest cards and gain the rewards if they are completed.
The final two phases are Ragnarok and Release from Valhalla. These phases will result in the destruction of one region and all the occupying forces to be destroyed. This results in glory as Vikings love the idea of dying in Ragnarok. Also any figure that perished through out the round will come back to the controlling players as they are released from Valhalla to fight again next round.
The game play flows very nicely. The game seems to move along quickly through each round of play and transitions to the next phase seamlessly. Its really a wonderful and well thought out design. Each phase provides its own set of mechanisms that presents a wonderfully complex game throughout the phases as well. The game play can be a bit unforgiving with poor decision making. Any falter in strategy or tactics can set you back for an entire age (round) with little to do to remedy. This is definitely one that benefits from repeat play and building an overall game strategy.
The drafting mechanic works very interestingly with the rage phase. The cards that are picked during the drafting round sets the tone for your strategy moving ahead. Your troop deployment, upgrades, and invasions all require the cards you drafted to work in synergy. Without it then you may find yourself to be the constantly losing battle and finding frustration. Although the game has even found a cohesive strategy for the player that simply wants to lose battles.
Who is this game for?
This game is a wonderful blend of light resource management, area control, and card synergy. I, myself, have a hard time with games along this line. All the cards need to be considered with the intention of playing them along with the abilities of another card. Gamers who really enjoy starting from scratch and optimizing a strategy given a grab bag of different card abilities will really enjoy this one.
I would say this game really caters itself to post Magic the Gathering players that love card combinations and drafting. The players that I played with that really enjoyed this one were the ones that had extensive Magic the Gathering histories. It makes complete sense as game play hinges on good card play and drafting which these type of players will find familiar. It’s very much like building your own Magic deck but in this game you have a board that you will be manipulating.
The miniatures and area control is a lighter element but I feel like this will pull in some war gamers and miniature enthusiasts. There is lots here that would appeal to all types. Although I will say that anyone that gets easily frustrated to maybe just look into the game first before playing as this can be a bit hateful.
The game is a wonder even if its not something I normally gravitate toward. The game play can be a bit frustrating for me as with most area control games. That all said I feel that this has a lot of merit and I can see where all the hype around this game came from. Its a great design and game play that needs to have your attention. I would recommend anyone who is a miniature and card play enthusiast to check this one out if not just buy it. If area control isn’t your thing then I would still look into the game play a bit before moving forward but its work a look regardless.