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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Boards & Brews at Home: Blood Rage

Well this is it, the creme del a creme.  A game so incredibly well made I could just weep.  To further the viking theme of this game, we also have our mead that we picked up from New Day Meadery in Fountain Square.  A little over a year ago we met up with one of our local gaming groups and played a game called Blood Rage.  At the time I had only read about it and I was highly intrigued so when I saw it at game night I was thoroughly excited.  The fact that it has a viking theme was the first selling point for me, and second it’s a miniatures game, and finally it had a unique array and splice of mechanisms in such a way that I had never seen combined before.  At first glance the game appears more overwhelming to some, but it’s really not that bad.  We purchased this game about 6 months ago, before it briefly went out of print and have played it just about 40 times since then and it hasn’t worn down a bit for us!  Life is fleeting, but glory is eternal.  Now is the time for rage!

In Blood Rage the end of time is upon you, and Odin always knew Ragnarok would come.  He never found a way to prevent the destruction of Midgard, but you will not cower and wait for the end.  You are the viking leader of a proud, ancient clan and even in the face of final doom of the world, you will command your warriors on the field of battle, conquering and pillaging as you were born to do.  The gods are generous in their twilight hours, bestowing gifts and boons upon you.   Even the most monstrous creatures of Midgard seek to find glory in the little time they have left, and so they too may join you in your assault.   Before each age begins, all players at the table will have a drafting phase which you will allocate various types of cards into your hand that will assist you through that age.  As you march across the land, everything is sectioned off by portions which are color-coded.  You have so many various methods to gaining massive amounts of glory in this game so even if you fall much further behind your opponents, the opportunity for many types of strategic play is still at your fingertips.  You can account for the most strength of your warriors by covering the vast majority of real-estate over Manheim, Alfheim, or Jotunheim.  Within these districts are smaller sub-divisions of territory that you can try to pillage, and your opponents can challenge you and battle for the land.  If you successfully pillage, you can gain the ability on that territory which can advance one of your tokens on the stats tracker. You can also gain glory for winning, and other abilities as well.

The cards in this game will heavily assist you in your strategic planning throughout each age. In some instances, your opponents can optionally choose to pillage with you if you call it out, and then the battle between everyone begins.  Each player will choose a card from their hand and play it in front of them.  You will gain glory through victory in battle, and dying valiantly at the feet of your enemies.  The goal in this game is to achieve the greatest amount of glory before the world finally comes to it’s fiery end.  The game progresses through three ages, as Ragnarok slowly consumes the world.  Whoever has the most glory by the end of the game is the winner.  Claire and I have been playing tabletop games for a while, even before we latched onto the tabletop revolution trolley of modern board games.  We’ve played numerous resource management, area control, social deduction, worker-placement, programming, deck-building, tile-placement, dungeon crawl, cooperative, card-drafting, abstract games and so much more in the span of several years.  Yet, through it all we have not come up against something anywhere near this good.  I could lose in this game numerous times over and it would still never take it’s toll on me.  Blood Rage is one of the only games we own that once we complete it, we don’t move onto a different game, we simply sort everything, and then start another game.

We own 8 different miniatures games, and 6 of them are not pre-painted.  The detail of the miniatures in Blood Rage will certainly prove to be the most challenging and time consuming set of miniatures that we end up painting.  Everyone appreciates attention to detail and since this is a Cool Mini Or Not game, you can expect great things out of their miniatures, but this one in our opinion far surpasses any other game put out by them.  Aside from the miniatures, the overall artwork of the game has good depth. Everything about this game is logically integrated, and it scales beautifully.  As a 2 - 4 player game, it compensates the setup well between any of those numbers but is the most enjoyable at 4 players.  It plays on average between 60 to 90 minutes, but after you’ve played it as many times as we have you’ll be able to run through it in well under an hour if playing with two people.

A game like Blood Rage can only be explained so much.  You have to play this one for yourself to truly appreciate it and understand all of the different avenues that the cards can take you through.  The combination of various mechanics is not one that we’ve ever experienced, and the fusion of these various mechanics exponentially increases the intensity and enjoyment that you get out of the overall gameplay.  This game has everything that we need in an intermediate level strategy game.  Normally in past reviews I speak of considering many different games if you gravitate toward them thematically, but in the case of Blood Rage, anyone who is an avid enthusiast of tabletop gaming, needs to play this one. I don’t know what kind of game could possibly come along and knock this one down into my second place spot.  It would take a lot.  I think Blood Rage is very possibly going to remain in our #1 spot indefinitely which is why I'm giving this one my highest rating yet, and quite possibly the highest rating I will ever give to a game.

Blood Rage
Overall Meeple Rating: 9.5/10

Game Mechanics:
1) Area Control/Area Influence
2) Action Point Allowance
3) Card Drafting
4) Variable Player Powers
5) Area Movement

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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