Champions of Midgard by Grey Fox Games was the very first game that I reviewed for Gaming Respawn and was also one of my favourite games of 2015, in fact it remains one of my most loved worker placement games full stop. Any game will be off to a winning start with me if it can successfully combine a euro-style resource collection mechanic with dice battling, as well as deck collecting and can also boast a fantastic Viking theme with great artwork. Add to all this that the game is mega easy to learn, having a rulebook of about eight pages and a very simple phased player aid, it is easy to see why I speak so highly of it and enjoy playing Champions on a regular basis.
To that end, you can imagine my excitement when Grey Fox announced that they would be releasing not one but two expansions to the base game that can be played separately from one another or both together.
So, let’s find out if Champions of Midgard: Valhalla will have us feasting with Odin or banished in disappointment with the trickster Loki.
A feature in the base game is that if players are to be successful, they must battle against Trolls and Monsters as much as possible, meaning players are constantly collecting, rolling and ultimately losing their Viking Warrior dice. We have all been bogged down trying to beat the same Monster round after round, throwing our Vikings into battle only to be defeated again and again, going around in a never-ending circle of collecting ‘some’ dice to fight but not quite ‘enough’ dice to win. What Valhalla does is reward players for their sacrifice in the form of sacrifice tokens that can be used to defeat newly added Epic Monsters or buy Blessings that may give that player extra glory points, among other rewards. Each type of warrior dice, swordsman, axeman & spearman will have their own tokens, which will be claimed at the end of each battle.
Speaking of killing off our brave Vikings, Valhalla introduces three new warrior types with which to do battle. At the start of the game, each player will receive a blue leader dice that, when rolled, can do pretty substantial damage, as well as activate special abilities that are unique to that specific Leader. These Leaders can be used in any battle, and unlike like the regular Viking warriors, cannot be killed, instead they are merely wounded and are temporarily removed from play until the player can revive them with a Blessing card.
The two other types of dice are the pink berserkers and the yellow shield warriors, both of which are mega useful, meaning working out a strategy to get as many of them as possible will be important to winning the game.
The berserkers are just super hard hitting lunatics that dish out a ton of damage, with the drawback being that they must be the first casualties taken during any battle, thematically great.
The shield warriors are good as they don’t just deal out or block damage, when they roll a shield it also counts as a hit, making them very versatile and probably my most sought after dice in this expansion and the base game.
The new trainer market tile allows players to swap any two dice for any other two for the cost of one gold.
Valhalla offers players two new Leader boards, which for me was a great (I know it’s an obvious upgrade) as, and I mentioned this in my original review, I felt that two of the base game Leaders were massively overpowered compared to the rest. Whilst Hemming & Thyra’s abilities don’t match up to those two OP ones, they certainly give players a extra options and allow for a variable strategy.
A set number of Epic Monsters will be revealed at the start of each game and will offer an immediate glory bonus, as well as end of game bonuses such as extra glory for defeating Trolls, etc. To defeat these monsters, players must collect sacrifice tokens (have warriors killed in battle) equal to the number and type shown on the monster card.
The Blessing cards are gained in the same manner but are a lot cheaper and more accessible in comparison to the Epic Monsters. Blessings may give extra dice, valour tokens or be used to revive your Leader should they be defeated. These cards will be refreshed each time one is taken, meaning players may have multiple benefits to call upon throughout the game.
Valhalla also adds a few new Destiny cards and Rune cards which again help mix things up that little bit more; not a big addition, but it’s always nice to pull new cards out.
That’s pretty much it for Champions of Midgard: Valhalla. Cool new powerful dice, new Leaders, new monsters to beat and rewards to achieve. Whilst Valhalla doesn’t change the basic gameplay of the base game, it does offer a different experience and alternative strategy options: Do you target tougher monsters in order to ‘kill off’ your warriors and receive their sacrifice tokens to claim those blessings, or go for more of the weaker monsters and grab as many glory points as possible without the end game benefits?
My review of the second expansion of Champions of Midgard, Dark Mountains, will be up soon, keep an eye out for that.
Designer: Ole Steiness
Publisher: Grey Fox Games
Release: Sept 2017