So it’s a fact: Vikings are coming. Last time I talked about the violent Northmen being a part of the tabletop gaming culture for some time now, making appearances in different types of games – games that do not necessarily make a great use of the Viking theme. But it looks like the times they are a changin’, and we’re about to get some new wave Euro games that will really make us feel like raiders, explorers and traders of the early medieval era.
One of the games I mentioned last time while talking about Vikings was Viking Fury, an almost legendary game first published by Ragnar Brothers in a very raw but nonetheless charming form, and then given an exceptionally spectacular overhaul by Asmodee. This second incarnation, known as Fire & Axe, is actually a game we at NSKN really enjoy and play on a semi-regular basis.
The charm of Fire & Axe comes not only from ridiculously high component quality and stunning artwork, but also from the game mechanisms, which mix up elements of European and American games. This makes for a tapestry of strategic thinking and stand-up-and-cheer dice rolling, steeping the whole experience in doing what Vikings should be doing: sailing, trading, raiding, and trying to outsmart, outmanoeuvre or simply beat each other up.
However, Fire & Axe was in a way a game ahead of its time, and the time it was published in was one of Eurogames being Eurogames and Ameritrash being Ameritrash. Today though, game design has shifted, and Eurogames especially are becoming more and more in sync with their themes, as gamers (or in other words, the customer base) are not as easily satisfied with a game that is irrefutably smart, but completely detached from its theme.
So, what shape and what form will Vikings assume, as they come to raid and pillage our wallets in the coming months and years? Well, although we might still get games that are only vaguely connected to their Northmen theme, we’re also in for quite a ride with titles such as Raiders of the North Sea or… a reprint of Fire & Axe which is long overdue. We’re also in for Eric Lang’s reworking of Midgard, which will come to rule Ameritratsh tables in the form of lavishly produced Blood Rage.
The popularity of the Vikings TV show is also responsible for the appearance of not one, but two games that will make use of the licence. Although, it’s hard to say if Catalyst Game Labs will deliver deeply thematic experiences with Jarl and Vikings (much like Galeforce Nine has with games such as Spartacus, Homeland or Firelfly), or simply go for what people usually assume a licensed game to be like.
Finally, I would not have written all of this if we were not preparing ourselves to dip our toes in the cold waters of northern seas. So, if you were already expecting something along the lines of the earliest of the earliest sneak peeks, you were right. Watch the seas and guard your shores, as we will be teaming up with a new designer to load the longboats and go Viking.
Deyr fé deyja frændr…