The first game of the night was Midgard, a relatively obscure Z-Man area-control title designed by Eric M. Lang.
In Midgard, players become the leader of a Viking clan battling for control over the legendary realms of Norse mythology. Their goal is to achieve dominance in these provinces before everything is obliterated in the final battle of Ragnarok.
Over the course of three rounds, players draft a hand of Action Cards, all featuring various powers and functionality. This is accomplished by passing unwanted cards to an opponent based on specific instructions. By customizing your hand in this manner, you can easily pursue or alter your strategy during the course of the game.
Once the Draft Phase is complete, players alternate the play of selected Action Cards, placing their tokens on the board to occupy and control various regions. Some cards let you take Vikings from your ships, some tap your off-board supply and others allow you to divert hordes from another province. Dominance over an area can be achieved by eliminating your opponent's tokens or achieving numerical superiority.
When the round is over, players are awarded Kingdom Tokens for any territories that they occupy and then score Victory Points for holding sway over certain areas. At the conclusion of the game, participants also get bonus points for trading in matching sets of Kingdom Tokens. The Viking Warlord with the highest score wins the game!
Thirsting for the wisdom of Odin regarding yon game? Go then, and seek ye the full rules, found hither.
TOKEN SELECTIONAndrew was Red, Chad was Yellow, I was Purple, Dean was Green and Mike was Red.
I'd played the game once before and remembered how important the Kingdom Tokens were in end-game scoring. As such, I concentrated in getting a few of my bowling pins...er, warriors in Vanaheim which allowed me to take bonus Tokens and customize complete sets. Lured by the promise of five free Victory Points and willing to sacrifice my effort on the main board, I had no problem committing two dudes to the task of wrestling control of Asgard away from Chad. A Doom Token payoff gave me a nice consolation prize after I surrendered Myrkvior to him. I still managed to weasel dominance in Muspelheim as well as Vidblain before it all went "ker-blooey".
Chad embraced a totally different but very lucrative strategy: get points for dominating in Doom Token regions and then even more points when they get blown up! He went into berserker mode, gaining total control of Elivagar and totally kicking my ass in Myrkvior. After being eliminated in a vicious Royal Rumble between Mike and Dean in Andlang, he managed to quell Mike's rebellious efforts in Gimle. As if his Victory Point haul for being dominant in three territories wasn't enough, he also cleaned up when no less then eight of his peeps were killed by Doom Tokens and then got counted again in Valhalla!
After clawing his way to dominance in a three-way brawl with Chad and Andrew in Andland, Dean finally managed to achieve the superior numbers. Pity Mike then proceeded to waltz in and snatch victory right out of his hands! Things worked out much better in Gastropnir where Dean managed to best Andrew in a two-on-one contest. He also had the foresight to stock Horgr with three of his Vikings, who were all gloriously slaughtered by a Doom Token.
Andrew participated in several scraps but he had a devil of a time getting reinforcements off of his boat and sidelines and into play. As a result, he was forced to withdraw from a nasty three-way street-fight in Angland and leave Elivagar to Chad's devices. This allowed him to achieve total dominance in Angerboda and challenge Mike's rule in Utgard. Nevertheless, he only lost three troops in Doom and/or battle, which didn't really yield a lot of bonus points.
Mike also failed to get a lot of boots on the ground, resulting in a land campaign that was spotty at best. He ended up settling for a tie with Andrew in Utgard, relinquishing Vanaheim to me and giving up Gimle to Chad. An eleventh-hour invasion of Andland against a weakened Dean was both nasty and well-timed and a few bonus casualties helped to bolster his efforts.
As the game began to wind down, obvious front-runner Chad took a lot of late hits. I did my best to rebuke his incursions into Gimle, Mike fought him to a draw in Myrkvior and Andrew kicked his ass up around his ears in Horgr. He bounced back by playing his last few reserves with tremendous precision, winning dominance over me in Muspleheim and moving unopposed into Gastropnir. He also picked up a respectable thirteen points from Doom victims and his spiritual citizens in Valhalla.
Dean's troops didn't really have a lot of time to loiter on the board. At least he picked up on my strategy towards the end and wrestled control of Vanaheim away from me. Andrew sniped Vidblain right at the end of the game, forcing Dean to be content with a two-point Doom token bump. Although he had eight casualties to tally up at the end of the game, his lack of dominance and Kingdom Token sets really crippled his final score.
Andrew bounced back considerably, gaining sole ownership of Elvagar and Angerboda. Although he pushed Dean back in Vidblain and completely dominated Chad in Horgr, he could do little to displace Mike's choke-hold on Utgar. Fourteen Victory Points worth of Doom token fodder was a pretty sweet finale, but Andrew knew that his Kingdom Token deficiencies would probably end up biting him in his breeches.
After Andrew was forced to divert his troops from Utgard, Mike was left as its sole custodian. Unfortunately a lot of his men got stranded off the board and he could only achieve parity with Chad over Murkvior. Losing five men to Doom Tokens did give him a nice nineteen point windfall after it was added to his existing casualties.
Meanwhile, I continued to further my single-minded strategy by playing a series of Gold Action cards for a slew of free Kingdom tokens. I also dabbled periodically on the board proper, snapping up undefended soft spots like Andland and dispatching garrisons to Doomed provinces like Gimle. After a few rounds you'll quickly realize that Midgard is the sort of game where you want to do a million things at once, but you really have to pick and choose your battles.
I'm actually quite fond of Midgard. The presence of Kingdom Tokens ensures that your troops will be seeing conflict in every portion of the board, making for scads of player interaction and conflict. The hand management mechanic gives players the opportunity to follow through on strategies while granting the freedom and flexibility to change your focus at any time between Rounds. The variety of cards and limited space for units also results in some tense stand-offs.
Components-wise the game can use a makeover. Although the board itself is clear and colorful, moving little wooden bowling pins around doesn't exactly scream "Viking Horde".
But this is just a picked nit. Midgard is a fun, quick, easy-to-learn filler game that's surprisingly deep.
I give it four pips outta six!
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