- Designer: Ole Steiness
- Artist: Victor Pérez Corbella
- Publisher: Grey Fox Games
- Player count: 2-4
- Playtime: 60-90 minutes
- Mechanics: Worker placement, dice combat
Champions of Midgard is a middleweight, Viking-themed, worker placement game with dice rolling in which players are leaders of Viking clans who have traveled to an embattled Viking harbor town to help defend it against the threat of trolls, draugr, and other mythological Norse beasts. By defeating these epic creatures, players gain glory and the favor of the gods. When the game ends, the player who has earned the most glory earns the title of Jarl and is recognized as a champion of Midgard!
Placing workers allows for the collection of resources and warriors, which players may then send on journeys to neighboring villages or across the sea to defeat monsters and gain the glory they need for victory. Resources are used to to carve runes, build ships, and feed your followers. Viking warriors (custom dice) do battle with the myriad enemies the town faces.
The game is played over 8 rounds, which each follow the exact same structure. A round is divided in the 5 following Phases:
1: Round setup: This phase has several small steps that need to be taken to proceed.
- Monsters will be drawn from the top of their respective decks and will, in the case of trolls and draugr, replace any current ones. In the case of the journey monsters, only refill the empty spots.
- Place a face down journey card on each empty journey space
- Reveal the top card from the merchant ship deck
- Add the appropriate die to the swordsmith, hafter and blacksmith locations
- add a food cube to the smokehouse location
2: Worker placement:
In this phase, starting with the player holding the first player marker, players place their workers on the locations on the board. Doing this they gather resources: Wood, Food, Favor, money and warriors (dice) in three different varieties. There are also some spaces on the board where other things can be obtained. Rune cards give the player some additonal abilities during the placement or battle phase. Destiny cards can provide end-game scoring opportunities and ships can be either bought or hired to take your warriors on perilous journeys.
3: Assigning viking warriors:
Any player that placed their workers on a troll, Draugr or longship location will now assign the warriors (and in the case of a journey food cubes) they wish to send into battle. If a monster has a no spears/axes/swords symbol on it, dice of that color can not be sent into battle with the particular monster.
4: Combat resolution:
The basics of combat are very simple. Each enemy has a wounds stat and an attack stat. If you roll enough sword/spear/axe symbols to equal their wound total it is killed. For each wound the enemy inflicts on you, you lose a die. Wounds can be negated by shield results. You can spend favor tokens to reroll any dice. This step can be repeated by spending additional tokens. Combat ends either when the monster has taken lethal damage or if there are no viking warriors left to combat the monster.
- If a player placed warriors in the hunting grounds, he rolls his dice and gains the appropriate amount of food.
- If a player battles a troll, combat is resolved against the troll. If the troll is not killed, all players take a blame token. If the Troll is killed however, the player may discard a blame token and force another player to take one. If nobody decided to battle the troll menacing their village, all players take a blame token as well. These blame tokens detract points at the end scoring, nicely detailed on a graph on the board.
- In the Draugr spaces, combat is resolved from left to right.
- For the journey spaces, follow the following steps, starting with the leftmost location: Reveal and resolve Journey cards, feed your viking warriors (unfed warriors die and return to the reserve. Food is returned to supply even if there’s any left), combat the monster.
5: Clean up:
Some minor things need to be done in this step. Retrieve your workers from the board. Discard any undefeated Draugr and troll cards. Add 1 money to each undefeated monsters on the bottom and progress the round marker. If you’re in round eight, proceed to final scoring.
Apart from the points scored during the game, you will score the following things during end scoring.
- Destiny cards: If you have statisfied the condition of a card, score the larger amount of Glory points depicted. If you’re tied, score the smaller amount.
- Sets of enemies (red/Blue/Gold). Score 5 points for each set collected
- Rune cards: Score the amount of glory depicted on the card. (both for used and unused cards)
- Private longships: If you’ve built one, score the points indicated.
- Favor tokens: Each unspent token is worth 2 glory points.
- Gold: Score 1 glory point for each 3 gold you have left.
- Blame: Lose points according to the track, depending on your amount of blame tokens.
Whoever ends up with the most points, wins the game.
Before we address the elephant in the room, let me talk a little bit about what I think about Champions of Midgard itself. I have to say I succumbed a little bit to the Dice tower hype about this game, as they gave it a seal of excellence. I really couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on this title.
What I like about the game:
- The artwork and style throughout is absolutely gorgeous. The board especially is really pleasing to look at.
- Ease of rules. The rules were extremely simple to learn and teach to others. It’s a very beginner friendly game.
- Playtime: The gamebox says it plays in between 60 to 90 minutes. For me, the plays are closer to the 60 minute mark, which seems just right.
- Use of dice. Off course, dice add a luck element to the game. In this case however, I don’t mind at all. It makes the completion of ‘quests’ or battles feel very climatic.
- Small mechanics. As an example I really like that getting an additional worker, costs less when you’re not the first person to do so.
- Variable player powers. There are 5 different clan leaders that each have a unique ability. Allthough these are not mind blowingly different, they add just a little touch of variety I like.
- The designers are very reactive to questions on the BGG boards. A lot of people initially had some questions, but the team behind the game seems really committed to adress these.
What I didn’t like as much:
- Replayability. With only a small amount of marker tiles, setup will often look similar. Also, the monsters could have been more diverse for my tastes.
- The rulebook. I know this sounds a bit double, as I put ease of rules as a plus. For me the thing I didn’t like about the rulebook came down to the layout and they way it was written. The rules themselves are pretty straight forward and easy.
- Very limited player interaction. Really, apart from taking a spot someone else wants, there is no interaction. I strongly feel that the game would benefit from an expansion that would tackle this issue.
The comparison to Lords of waterdeep (Because all the cool kids are doing it)
Off course, there are some similarities between both games. In both games you collect resourses and complete quests. Also, both games use a resource that detracts points at game end (technically, the expansion to LOW adds this, not the base game)
Is that a crime? Not as far as I’m concerned. The game also have a lot of mechanics that feel very different. Lords of waterdeep is much more interactive. Resources switch hands and you can screw around with your fellow players. It doesn’t have the thrill of combat that Champions of Midgard has. Also something I really feel where the games take a different route is the way the end scoring works. In LOW, you know up front which type of quests will give you game end bonuses. In COM, the addition of set collection and the destiny cards make for a very different approach. In my eyes one game is not necessarily alot better then the other. I don’t see why you couldn’t have both in your collection.
In the end I liked this game well enough, but I would love to see some interaction and replayability added with a future expansion.
Final Verdict: 7,5/10