Vikings Gone Wild: Masters of Elements is a light, fun deck building game designed by Julian Vergonjeanne and published by Lucky Duck Games. I reviewed the game last year on Board’s Eye View, so if you want a look at the core game you can find that review and 360º views of the game here.
Masters of Elements is the latest expansion for Vikings Gone Wild. You’ll obviously need the base game in order to play it. The expansion adds Norse Gods to the game, each with their own special powers, and it introduces fire, water and nature element tokens; in effect, three more currencies alongside the beer and gold in the core game. With this expansion, players also start each game with three artefacts, selected through card drafting. These use the elements, placed out on the buildings from the core game, to boost another unit or drive the deck building mechanism (for example, allowing a player to strengthen his deck by ‘destroying’ a card in his hand).
Most of the components in Masters of Elements are used alongside those from the core game but the element unit cards replace Vikings Gone Wild’s original unit and defence cards. The elements unit cards have both an attack and defence value, which in practice serves to streamline the resolution of players’ raids on each other’s buildings.
Masters of Elements is the fourth expansion for Vikings Gone Wild. It is also the largest, with more cards, boards and tokens in the box than you’ll find in many standalone games. Often the problem with expansions is that they add superfluous layers of complexity to an otherwise elegant game design; in effect, bogging it down. Most collectable card games eventually succumb to this death by expansionitis. Happily, there’s no immediate risk of this disease striking down Vikings Gone Wild, the Masters of Elements expansion slots seamlessly in with the original game.
You might think that the addition of three more ‘currencies’ would bog the game down but that’s not the case; coupled with the replacement unit cards, you’ll find you quickly shrug off any concerns about added complexity. So much so, that you’ll almost certainly find that the game actually plays more quickly with this expansion than without!
My Thoughts on Masters of Elements
Vikings Gone Wild is a great game. It has become one of my favourite deck-builders and I’ve frequently used it as one of my ‘go to’ gateway games. The Masters of Elements expansions succeeds in making a great game even better.
There’s just one oddity. The game is named for the ‘Master of Elements’ cards that are included as a generic optional alternative to the God cards. However, you’ll almost always put these aside and choose to play instead with the more interesting and thematically sounding God cards. Loki must be having a chuckle at the notion of a game expansion being named after the only cards in the box that you never actually use!
You can see more reviews by Selwyn Ward on Board’s Eye View.