Review: Reavers of Midgard

Disclaimer: This review is from a copy of the game that was provided by Grey Fox Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.

Game: Reavers of Midgard
Publisher: Grey Fox Games
Design: J.B. Howell
Art: Yaroslav Radetskyi

Mechanisms: Card drafting, Dice rolling, Follow, Set collection, Worker placement
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Game Time: 60 – 120 minutes

Description: Reavers of Midgard sees players gathering their crews, amassing resources, and engaging in raids and battles to accrue glory (victory points).

After setting up the main board, each player receiving a player board, 1 favor (used to reroll combat dice, and can be spent for certain costs), and 2 random reaver cards. They then collect the dice provided by their starting reavers, roll them, and decide whether to promote, specialize, or rally them (these are explained below). A first player is then chosen and the game begins.

The game is played over 6 rounds each consisting of 4 actions being selected and every player carrying out that action based on player order. Players take turn selecting an action and they either get to do it more times or they receive a bonus for selecting the action, with subsequent players getting to do the action fewer times or not getting a bonus.

The 6 actions available in the game are as follows:

  1. Recruit Reavers – Players select either a pair of face-up reaver cards to recruit, or 2 random ones from the top of the deck. When acquired, reavers provide dice to roll and add to the player’s ship board. Then, players must decide what to do with the reaver card itself. There are 3 options-
    1. Promote: Players can promote the reaver to the leader spot on their board (moving any card already there to the glory pile, which is their end-game scoring area). They get an instant bonus based on the clan of the new leader, and also symbols on dice matching the leader’s clan tribe become wild and can be used as some other die faces.
    2. Specialize: Each reaver has a special ability on the bottom edge of the card. Players can specialize a reaver by placing the card underneath one of the areas on the bottom of their player board (coinciding to 4 of the actions on the board) such that just the special ability is showing. For the remainder of the game, players get to activate the special abilities of specialized reavers whenever they take the action the reaver is assigned to.
    3. Rally: Players can immediately place the reaver into their glory pile to gain additional dice as noted on the reaver, and these dice get to be placed on any side that the player wants (instead of being rolled).
  2. Trade with Villages: Players can accrue resources here such as food, dice, or favor. Also, Prophecies can be acquired here which are end-game scoring bonuses.
  3. Battle at Sea: Players can choose to battle on the high seas. They must first encounter a sea journey card which usually gives them a choice to pay a cost or suffer a consequence. After the journey card is resolved, players choose a face-up sea battle, or the top card of the deck, to face. Players can either pay the cost (a specific set of die faces) or initiate combat against the card. Combat requires discarding crew dice with hammer icons to gain combat dice, which are then rolled and successes are compared against the defense value of the card. If the successes equal or exceed the defense value, the battle is won! Sea battle cards provide glory and other rewards when defeated.
  4. Subdue Territories: Players can attempt to subdue territories to acquire tiles with one-time bonuses on the back, as well as glory at the end of each round based on how many tiles they’ve acquired. Territories can be subdued by force, using combat against the defense value of the tile you’re going for (as above), or peacefully, by paying the cost (food, dice, or favor) shown on the tile.
  5. Raid Villages: Players can acquire reward cards from villages that contain artifacts (which allow players to hold additional dice, and have special abilities), ship upgrades (which give you die faces you can use once per round in place of an actual die), resources, or locations players can get resources from automatically and optionally choose to gain more but at a cost.
  6. Raid Keeps: Players can acquire rewards here similarly to raiding villages, but the rewards here are end-game scoring sets (like art, armor, and tapestries), and also locations that give resources automatically and the player can choose to fight a combat against to gain additional rewards.

Once all 4 actions of a round have been completed, the first player token rotates clockwise and the board is reset (cards and dice are discarded, and new ones are dealt/rolled). At the end of the 6th round, players reveal their glory piles and combine that with any artifacts and reavers that were on/around/under their player board. Players resolve end of game scoring, and the player with the most glory wins!

Review: As you likely remember, we are big fans of Champions of Midgard around here. Like, really enjoy it. We kinda dig it. So, when the opportunity came up for us to review the next game, Reavers of Midgard, we were all about it. 

First, this is essentially taking the bottom part of the Champions board (the sea battles) and zooming in on it. The entire game is about getting ready to raid – well, everyone. Because that’s what Vikings do. Ships? We got it. Villages? Sure, why not. Give us ALL the things. 

The dice mechanism reminds me a little bit of Tiny Epic Galaxies. You have to have certain faces in order to complete certain tasks, and you have lots of ways to mitigate those faces. Plus, I enjoy that everyone gets to take the same action (also similar to TEG), but the first player gets the best version of that action.

The art looks really nice. It definitely is a call back to Champions – a similar style, and all of the fonts are pretty much the same as well. It’s fairly easy to read the board, and it doesn’t feel too busy or crowded when you look at it.  

The cards and the custom dice look pretty good, as well. The card art and iconography are easy to understand. Plus, the faces on the dice are very clear – you know what you rolled. That didn’t surprise me at all – they did really well with Champions, and these dice look just as good.

I do have a couple of criticisms. First, there were a few instances where the rulebook wasn’t completely clear. Thankfully, Grey Fox Games is really good about replying on BGG. So, if you end up in a situation where you aren’t quite sure what you need to do, then you can search for it and you’ll likely find your answer pretty quickly. 

It also has a little bit of the runaway leader issue, especially if you do things right and you really start working the Subdue Territories action and buff up the action using your cards. I started pumping up the points that way and it kinda got crazy toward the end of the game. 

Otherwise, this is a solid title. Don’t go into it expecting it to be like Champions of Midgard – this is more about action selection and multi-use cards. I definitely prefer Champions, but Reavers is a pretty good follow up for it. 

Try/Buy/Deny: Do you like multi-use cards? Action selection? Vikings? Then Reavers falls between try and buy, depending on how into the theme you are. I say that with the caveat that you’ll want to keep your mobile device nearby to look up rules questions.   

Game on!

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