The year is A.D 793 and you're standing at the front of your Longboat. You feel the wind in your beard as your bravest and burliest Viking men row you closer to the shore. Yes, it's time to embrace the Viking warrior within. Connect with your Nordic ancestors in 'Raids', a 2-4 player game of Viking conquerors from IELLO. Set sail from island to island to assemble an army of vicious warriors. Collect runes, battle formidable monsters, trade valuable goods and outwit your opponents in this fun 30-40-minute board game.
Casting Off To Pillage And Plunder
'Raids' consists of four rounds, each with 16 tiles laid around the board. Players take charge of their own Viking Longboat to sail along the route, collect various items and fight monsters.
As you land on tiles, you take them onto your longship. Tiles that you can land on range from rune tiles, tradeable goods, improvements to your longship, and ports where you can sell the loot you have collected. However, don't take all those tiles too quickly - Raids is a balancing act. With only five tile spaces on your longboat, you need to decide the type of warrior you want to be. Do you want to trade in goods? Or is the Nordic blood running through your veins urging you to collect weapons and slay all those monsters? Maybe you want to dip your feet into a little of both?
While rune tiles lay separate from your boat, your boat can still build up fast. You'll have to decide which tiles you want to keep and which to ditch. There are also tiles that you can't land on, but you must pass. These can range from villages where you can pillage for money or collect Vikings for your army, and monsters who you must either fight or flee from.
Players take turns to navigate to the space they want along the map, with the player furthest behind going first. The tiles between that player and the one in front are discarded, leaving the player with no choice but to catch up with the player in front. Once a space is taken, players can still choose to row their boat up next to it. Here they can fight the other player for the space, leading to a game of chicken between the players. To fight, one player must discard one of their Vikings. Then the next player must discard two to retaliate, and the next player discards three and so on. This keeps going until one player decides to give up and flee to another space.
After one go around the map, players find their way back to the harbour. They can collect money based on what harbour tile was randomly selected at the beginning of the round. In the first round, the bonus always comes if you are the first to make it back. The bonuses are 6 coins for first, three for second, 1 for third and none for the last to return. After the first round, the bonus can range from having the most sails, the most different types of goods, or the one who has fought the most monsters.
At the end of the four rounds, points are tallied. Points are based on money, the number of Vikings in your army, monsters you have fought or goods you collected. The player with the most glory points wins the game and earns the title of most menacing Viking.
Bjorn To Be A Viking
The components in Raids are really well made. I can only let you imagine the joy when we first opened the box. The money in the game actually felt like metal coins rather than cheap cardboard. The boats and Vikings themselves are also solid wooden pieces making them nice to play with. The artwork is great, and, always a bonus, each piece has its own space within the box making it easy to pack away and get out again.
The game is easy to learn, so it's a good game to pick up and teach others. It reminds me of the game Tokaido in terms of player order and the way you move along the track and has similar mechanics to another IELLO game Sea of Clouds.
Sven The Sun Goes Down
In some ways, there is a good amount of playability as there are many ways to win. You may focus on your army and weapons, concentrate on collecting every rune, focus on getting every harbour tile bonus, or maybe try a bit of everything. However, there are only 16 tiles per round with no spares. So although you may shuffle them around, you quickly learn what tiles will be coming up each time. Some advanced rules or additional tiles would be a nice addition to stop it from becoming repetitive.
If you build up a few weapons and Vikings, fighting monsters can get a little bit easy and, if the tiles are laid a certain way, your opponent could sweep up a lot of monsters in one go before you even have a chance to blink.
Raids suffers as a 2-player game. There are additional mechanics to try and make it similar to a 3-player game, with a ghost ship going around the villages (every 5 spaces) and acting as a third player when it comes to player turn order. This does spur the game on so you can't just slowly make your way around the board, but it still means that if your opponent decides to skip right to the harbour rather than pick up any tiles, you have to quickly catch up. Ultimately depending on the decisions of your opponent, your game can be over quickly.
Another, albeit small con of the game, is not having any scoring paper - there are so many different ways to gain points such as monsters, goods earned, money in your keeping, the number of weapons you have, amount of Vikings multiplied by the number of sails you have…as you can see it gets confusing! Having a score sheet to tally up the points, as we see in other games, and add all this up would make a nice addition to the game.
Full Norse Ahead
Overall, 'Raids' may not be game-changing, but it's a quick and easy game to pick up and play, even if it may not be one that you're playing again and again. So, whether or not you can grow a full beard to get into the Viking character - pull up a stool, grab your drinking vessel of choice (I'll have mine in a Viking Gjallarhorn) and gather some mates to set sail on a Nordic quest to pillage and plunder.