So, we start this episode with a quick nod to Elizabeth Hargrave and the team that put Wingspan together. Wingspan is not a Viking game and has nothing much to do with Midgard but it did win 8 Golden Geek Awards (beating Gloomhaven‘s previous 6) and that deserves some recognition. It is a breezy, beautiful, fun game that has been able to reach new gamers as few games have. The game is accessible and fun with beautiful components, stunning art and the accolades are well deserved.
But that’s not why we are here.
Champions of Midgard (2015)
Gain glory by defending a Viking harbor town against trolls, Draugr and other beasts.
- Average BGG USER Rating: 7.8 78% 78%
- Complexity Rating (Weight): 2.6/5 26% 26%
We are here for the vikings. In particular we are here for the Champions of Midgard. A game by Ole Steiness game from 2015 that combined worker placement and combat dice into a beautiful rich thematic gem of a table top adventure. The game’s central mechanic has players using workers rushing about their viking village running errands to get their warrior pals ready to battle Trolls and Draugr, and packing supplies to head over the sea on heroic journeys to fight mythical monsters.
The game has a great euro vibe in all the worker placement, resource management and set collection that builds the foundation of the game. The real excitement however comes after the worker placement round is over. Once all the errands have been run the dirty work begins. The warriors are set upon their quests. The ships are stocked and set sail and the dice begin to tumble.
The excitement, for me, with Champions of Midgard comes with the dice chucking risks of combat. Dice combat is as old as it comes when you are looking at game mechanics but it works so well here. Each loss is a visceral kick in your guts and each victory no matter how small, brings glory.
I wrote a small list a while back of my top 5 games to lose. Games that are just as fun losing as they are winning and Champions of Midgard topped that list. There is excitement building with every missed dice roll and every lost battle. The farther behind you get the bigger the emotions. It is a fun game and the bit of luck that steers your destiny with every dice thrown really feels to bring the game to life.
Some don’t enjoy the randomness in herent in the dice combat system and while there are ways to mitigate losses in the base game there is an expansion, Valhalla that changes the whole feel of the game and turns those losses on their end creating new opportunities. With the introduction of the Valhalla expansion choosing death becomes part of your strategy.
I swear, I had a reason for rambling on about a scholar who was theorizing about political relations and ambiguous conflict. As I was reading about his contributions to game theory (which again has little to nothing to do with board games from his perspective), fireworks were going off in my head about how people interact with one another around a table while playing board games. Greater minds than mine may be able to make sense of it, so if you’re interested in shedding some light on how Schelling’s work could apply to board game playing, check it out here.
- When I spoke about Wingspan crushing Gloomhavens record I did not say that previously Gloomhaven had won 6 awards. I also don’t have any idea if that is a record of any kind, it was just fun to say that Wingspan crushed Gloomhaven – Gloomhaven being so heavy and all – cause the box is so big. These are jokes. Anyway, Wingspan won 8 Golden Geek awards and Gloomhaven won 6.
- Steve mentions that Thomas Schelling won a Nobel Prize in 2005 but didn’t say what for. Schelling was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (shared with Robert Aumann) for “having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.”
*If you notice anything else please let us know in the comments or send us an email.