TableTopTakes: Blood Rage
And time to talk about some more board games. Blood Rage is one of those games that you might have heard about even if you haven’t played it. It’s the monsters and minis on the map area control, card drafting, action point game that is extremely popular and hard to find right now, because it’s out of print. This is a game that I actually don’t own, but I really want to get at some time, because I have enjoyed every playthrough of it.
Blood Rage is a game that has a lot going on it as you play through three ages, building up your clan to see if in the end yours can be the strongest. This takes place over a number of different actions and strategies. In the game you start each age by drafting a hand of cards that you’ll use in combat, to improve your troops, or even hire monsters. From there, you play those cards, spending action points for them, but not just those cards, you can spend action points to raid places and get their power, fight the other clans to keep them from raiding, and try to make it to Yggdrasil and gain even more glory. If you lose a battle, you will lose your troops though, and they’ll go to Valhalla. Then you reset your action points for the next age and start again, but the map is smaller as Ragnorak happens destroying various locations around the board.
For me, the biggest strength of this game, there really isn’t a part that I don’t like, is the card drafting. If you want, you can focus in on combat and seek to win as many battles as possible and gain glory that way. But it’s also a viable strategy at times to draft cards for Loki that allows you to cancel cards or gives you points when your warriors die. Or maybe you don’t draft the cards that just influence battles, maybe you look to build a large collection of monsters and get them onto the table, or to upgrade your clan and clan leader. I don’t think that there is a better strategy than another, and as long as you’re keeping an eye on what other people are doing, you can slow them down. Now, the Loki strategy can be strong, but when someone starts going that way in the first age, you can do things to stop it in the second age by just drafting a card or two that is needed for the Loki strategy to keep it away from that player. That’s the case with most of the strategies, though, so you do need to hate draft, as it’s called, in this game, if you don’t, someone is going to be able to pull away.
This game also has amazing minis which make it look great on the table. These minis might not even take part in the game as every monster might not be drafted or even used as while the monsters have strength, they can’t go into Yggdrasil and they cost more to get onto the board if they die. Even your clansmen though look really nice and give the game a good table presence. But the monsters are the ones that set it apart from other games. I think that this game would, however, still be plenty fun if it was tokens with different colored backgrounds on the board. But that would make it trickier with the monsters since there is only one copy of each monster in the game, and with the minis, you put your color base on the monster to make it easily identifiable to figure out what player a monster belongs to.
I also really like how simple combat is in this game. In Blood Rage you simply add up the total on the clansmen in a place, two for a leader, one for each warrior, and varies for the monsters. Then everyone gets a chance to play down a single card to modify their attack. And some of the modifiers are massive, like +6 to an attack that would normally be a 3, but there are also cards that steal things like action points that can mess with a player, so do you play a lower plus card to try and stop someone from messing with the battle by messing with it yourself, or do you try and just go for that big swing to guarantee the win. So there is a bit of variability to it, but you aren’t figuring out a dice pool and rolling like you get in some games. The card play is simple and enjoyable.
Blood Rage is just a really enjoyable game. And I think even with a name like Blood Rage that it’s a game that a lot of people can enjoy. The mechanics are pretty straight forward, and while it can seem like there’s a lot going on at times, once you realize how the action point economy works you know what you can do. The game also helps by limiting the number of characters in locations, but even with that limit, because you might be in a battle, you are engaged on other people’s turns. I would say that this is the game you take out after playing some gateway games, because it could be a bit much for a new gamer.
Overall Grade: A+
Gamer Grade: A+
Casual Grade: B+
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