In Blood Rage you control a Viking clan who is vying for the most glory points. You do this by pillaging areas, achieving quest objectives and getting them killed in Ragnarok… wait what? Yes in Blood Rage the person who has the most units killed could win the game. As well as getting them sent to Valhalla through glorious death at Ragnarok (this is where a whole area is destroyed and no longer feature in the game, there are also quests to have them die). So the player who seems to be losing may be winning all along, for my feeling a unique part of this game.
The miniatures and “megatures” (because some of these figures are big) are of the highest quality, each clan has individual warriors sculpts, leaders and there a multiple unique monsters. A game that looks great on the table. Artwork on cards equally fitting the theme and of high quality.
The game plays across three rounds, each ends with Ragnarok (total destruction of an area) and starts with card drafting. It may have a thematic name but it’s card drafting, possibly the most effective use of card drafting as a part of a game. You can make your entire plan come to fruition by drafting the best cards for it, which you then pay for using action points (rage) and maybe improve your abilities.
The game is predominantly area control but with the twist of the controlling player “pillaging” the space, they can then be challenged if there is space to do so and a battle occurs, similar to Cosmic Encounter, it comes down to figures plus cards (also acquired in the draft phase). A really nice way to resolve battle without using dice. The winner gets glory for winning and the area’s specific improvement in either rage (more action points in the future), glory (more points for winning battles) or horns (more figures on the board).
Expansions/extensions give more features to the game and add a fifth player, it seems to have been a way to keep base cost lower but I’m not sure the expansions are that great for the extra cost. The kickstarter exclusives (grr!) are now fetching huge prices on eBay but don’t seem essential either. The other criticism that so far hasn’t become a problem is that the game doesn’t have a modular board, the benefit you score from each area changes but the board is always the same, will this get stale? I’m five plays in and not so far, we will see.
With or without the expansions the game will have a great flow of players choosing the right time to do what they want to, to maximise points, some potential for spoiling others strategy as well as pursuing your own. After three rounds end game points are also scored for quests and specific cards, the game is usually very tight between players and left me wanting more every time I played. The whole game is surprisingly simple and fast moving, everyone starts on even terms then becomes specialised in different ways. An epic of a game that justifies its hype it initially had, Cool Mini or Not do garner a lot of hype that then fades off in lieu of their next game, but Blood Rage cements itself right near the top of my ratings. At the moment I can’t think of a game I prefer.