Gameday First Play – Blood Rage
Technically 3rd play, but still…
“Life is Battle; Battle is Glory; Glory is ALL”
I have a problem with Cool Mini or Not games it seems, this is the second time I didn’t feel one, or even two plays was enough. See Kaosball for details.
With Kaosball we played some rules wrong though… With Blood Rage, I just didn’t get it…
So, here is a little about how it plays then I’ll get back to why.
Everyone has a player board with the same stats but different models on different colour bases.
These boards tell you your 3 core stats that we call Rage, Axes and Horns… Because that’s actually their names. You can increase these as the game goes on… You HAVE to increase these really.
Rage is your actions points for the round. You spend this to do stuff…
Axes is how many points, or Glory, you gain for winning a battle.
Horns show you the limit of the number of units you can have on the board.
A round starts by drawing cards and drafting them. This hand of cards will be used for this Age when taking one of the 5 available actions. Each player takes one action in turn until everyone gives up or runs out of Rage.
The first thing you can do is Invade, or, place units on the board. You have to pay their strength in Rage to do this. You can only go to the outside of the board and between some Provinces is a Fjord that holds your ships.
For the cost of one Rage you can March by picking up any of your units in one Province and moving them to any other.
If you drafted Upgrade cards you can add them to your player board by paying their cost in Rage. These upgrade your Leader, Warriors or Ship as well as recruit Mystics and Monsters onto your team.
For free, you can add Quest cards to your board to try and complete before the end of the Age. These generally give you points for having the most strength in various provinces.
The last thing you can do is Pillage which is where combat comes in… You pick a Province where you have a unit and say you’re going to Pillage it. Then, one at a time in turn order players an move one unit into the Province from an adjacent one.
A province has a limited capacity so not that many Units can fit but 4 player battles can be quite common. Yggdrasil, in the centre of the board is not only unlimited, but adjacent to every Province so a fight in there gets crazy.
Everyone selects and reveals a card, if it’s a battle card you add that cards strength to the total strength of your units, highest wins. Glory to the winner, Death to all the units belonging to the losers. If you initialised the Pillage and win, you get the bonus on that Provinces token which will generally increase one of your stats.
Losers keep their revealed battle card, winner discards theirs.
Once everyone has done, the Age ends…
The Age board shows which Province will blow up in Ragnarok, you gain Glory depending on the age for each unit that dies that way. Then, you set up for the next Age including taking all your dead units back from Valhalla.
After 3 ages, the player with the most Glory wins.
So the components are great as you would except and it looks really nice on the table…
But I don’t really get it. You have to upgrade your stats to improve over the game to win more Glory, do more things and get more units on the board. They’re also worth a tonne of end game points if you get them high enough.
You can upgrade by completing Quests but the main way is via initiating Pillages and winning them. So if someone initiates a Pillage you have to try and beat them if you can and since a majority of the units will go to Valhalla and Rage is tight, there will be one player with units standing. Everyone else has to spend Rage building back up.
If feels like there’s no subtlety much like a lot of Eric Lang’s games. (Black Widow stomping beats tactical play in Dice Masters and Arcadia Quest is all about getting as many attack dice as possible. Quarriors can be won just by buying the single best die you can afford)
It just feels like you have to stomp around the board.
You’re given all this other stuff you can do with these cards but only one thing you really need to focus on. If you don’t get those stats up, you don’t really have a chance.
With 3 players it was awful. Each Age a Province gets blown up by Ragnarok and becomes inaccessible and in a 3 player game 2 regions start destroyed. So if you go first you can generally invade a Province protected on both sides and Pillage it uncontested, then try to hold on to it.
I’ve played one and a third games (someone didn’t like it after 1 Age so we quit, it wasn’t their kind of game) of a 5 player game and it was better. But still very ‘Route One’.
I compare it to El Grande which does a similar thing much better and if this game didn’t have minis I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be as popular as it is. It even seems like a huge backwards step from Chaos in the Old World which has the same designer.
If you like Chaos in the Old World and wish all players could play Khorne, this is the game for you.
Note: I wrote this in January and back dated the post to October hoping future plays would help me understand this game, but so far I don’t.