Viking Raiders is a light, set collection card game from Neowulf Games where the 2-5 players represent competing Viking chiefs. The game is designed by Morten Billcliff with art by Mofei Wang, Norman Afzal and Tristan Rossin. At the start of each game you pre-set the victory conditions, which will be to collect 5, 6, 7 or 8 Clan, Navy and Loot cards. Obviously, the number you choose affects the length of the game.
Players each start with a hand of six cards but you get to draw an additional two cards at the start of each turn and hand size is unlimited. On your turn you can take up to two actions: buying a card from the market (an open display of eight cards) and/or play an action card. Buying a card will mean paying in resources (ie: discarding the requisite resource cards from your hand) and then playing the card to your tableau. There are some ability cards that give you a permanent ability for the rest of the game but most cards will contribute to your victory point target for Clan, Navy or Loot.
Action cards have various different effects but they mostly either make it easier or cheaper to obtain a card from the market or they allow you a 'take that' raid on another player: stealing a card of a specific type from their tableau. Viking Raiders tho' has an interesting defence mechanic: if you are raided you add a 'Raid Protection' card for each card in your tableau of the type being raided. You shuffle these together and the raider picks one face down card. If it's one of the targeted card types, the raider gains the card and adds it to their tableau. If it's a 'Raid Protection' card, the raid fails and the raider goes empty handed.
Tho' the core mechanics are simple and straightforward, there's enough variety in the decks to keep players fully engaged. And there are optional rules that give players the option to make more push-your-luck choices. For example, if you play with individual Clan Chief cards, you get a unique special ability (for example, extra Raid Protection cards in respect of a specific category) and you have the option to draw three cards on your turn instead of two, but at the cost of having to discard two of them. Likewise, instead of buying a card from the market display, you can take unseen the top face-down card of the market deck at a cost of any three resources. You can also sacrifice any resource to add an extra Raid Protection card when you suffer a raid.
Viking Raiders plays quickly - our plays have mostly taken 20-30 minutes - and tho' it's a 'take that' game it's light enough to be readily playable by all the family. Hand management is key to success: there are some powerful cards that are most effective when held in reserve: for example, cards that reduce your victory condition requirement. Watch out tho': there are Ragnarok and Stormy Seas cards that force players to discard their hands or pass them to another player... An unfortunately timed Ragnarok may yet foil your cunning plans...