With a design by Lucasz Wozniak and art by Barbara Golebiewska, Valhalla is a fast playing, easy-to-teach Viking-themed take that card and dice game.
Players each choose a Jarl with two special abilities. They are then drawing cards to their hand and playing warriors to their battle board tableaus. When they attack an opponent, they roll and apply their six engraved custom dice and allocate the results to equip the warriors in their tableau. Dice can be sacrificed to pay for a reroll, and tactic cards can also be used to reroll or to enhance an attack. The defender then rolls and applies their dice in a similar fashion. The winner of each battle is the player with the highest strength in fully equipped warriors and tactic cards.
If the attacker wins, he takes one of the defending player’s four shields. These are each worth 2 victory points at the end of the game but, more significantly, they act as a game ‘timer’, in that the game ends following a player's loss of all four of their shields. In keeping with the name of the game, it is the victor’s warriors that are taken by the gods to Valhalla. That means they are removed from the player’s battle board but it is these warriors that will be worth victory points at the end of the game.
That, essentially, is the core game, though the various expansions that come boxed with the game each add further subtleties to play. The sheer number of cards and different Jarls, each with their special abilities, means that Valhalla is a game that’s packed with replayability.
The dice inevitably introduce a degree of randomness but careful choice of the warriors you place onto your battle board can greatly mitigate the luck factor. Certain warriors are more powerful when deployed alongside particular allies or against particular foes, so, again, there are tactics involved in players’ hand management and deployment.
Valhalla is great fun as a head to head, two-player game but there’s also a solitaire mode and the game accommodates up to six players. We found it could become a little chaotic with six, but the game proved to be at its most exciting with four. Crucially, Valhalla is a game where turns are quick so that, even with four or more players, you can expect to complete a game in around 30 minutes.
Valhalla is on Kickstarter now. You can check it out and back it here.