Midgard - The Boardgame


Lutz Stepponat


No. of Players:
3 - 5



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game :

If you think about German role playing games (RPGs), Midgard is one of the most famous ones. It was in 1981 when the first version of Midgard was published by a new founded publisher and with this date it is even older than the German version of D&D and the popular Das Schwarze Auge. Like in all other RPGs, the rules got larger with every new version and the game became really complex if someone wanted to include all details of the rules.

Lutz Stepponat, author of the fantasy game Die Rückkehr der Helden from PEGASUS SPIELE, seems to be a very big fan of Midgard, because he made it his business to develop a boardgame on the basis of the complex RPG. I would think that this was really a difficult task, and thus it is no wonder that it took some years of development until he finally succeeded. The game was showcased first time as a prototype at the SPIEL convention in Essen in 2006, and there Mr. Stepponat got a lot of positive feedback and so he completed his work. The result is a game which - from first impression - is based on Rückkehr der Helden, but with deeper insight so that it realistically adopts the atmosphere, the methods and mechanisms of the Midgard RPG. For a boardgame the rules are complex but not too complicated to understand. The game surely will fancy more the fantasy orientated gamers, who have some experience in RPGs, so that it is probable that this smaller target group made it difficult to interest one of the bigger publishers for the game. So, in the end Midgard has become available only because Lutz Stepponat decided to found his own publishing house.


Midgard, the boardgame, now is the first game from the new publisher PHANTASTISCHE SPIELEWELTEN. Neither from the outside nor from the inside of the box you can see a difference to a game of one of the big publishers, so that the playing material is really rich and the design should satisfy most players. Sure, some details could be improved, but for a small publisher the game fully comes up to the expectations and even exceeds them.

To begin the game each player has to choose a character (of course, it is a fantasy game…). You can select either between five prepared characters (a Warrior, a Thief, a Priest, a Bard or a Wizard) or you can create your own hero. The characters have three attributes (strength, intelligence and agility) that can be varied by two points while creating a new character. During the game the attributes can be increased after the hero has reached a higher level (up to level 5). Next to the attributes there are values for attacking, defending and conjuring that can be varied by items like a sword and skills. Special skills that can be learnt during the game (each player starts with one special skill) can also influence the characters' abilities and values. Like in every RPG, the equipment of the characters plays a major role in Midgard. Helmet and armour should be a natural thing for every hero, and in his two hands he should at least have a weapon and perhaps a shield. All other things (up to a limit of four) can be packed in a rucksack and the spells (up to four) can be written in the spellbook. So, as you can see, a lot of typical roleplay characteristics were adopted in Midgard, the boardgame.


To set up the game twelve town cards are arranged on the table to serve as a playing area. Each of these towns gives the players various possibilities to act in his turn. First of all, equipment, a spell or a weapon can be bought or an attribute can be increased by training. However, all these possibilities cost money, and so a hero very often needs to accept a task to gain the needed money. To do so, a character can try to get one of three special tokens on each town card. These tokens are either persons or subjects that must be transported to another town card in order to perform the task and to get the award. To take the token, the hero then has to do a special test against one of his attributes. If he fails, he has to take a card of fate; usually this is a card of doom with negative consequences. Next to the special tokens there are three face down randomized tokens that can be flipped over in a players turn. Some of these tokens have positive effects, for example special equipment, but sometimes it is some kind of monster that wants to attack the hero. There are also fake items that can be brought to other town cards instead of the original special tokens. So after a while, the players will earn enough money to buy new weapons, will get experience for fulfilling a task and reach higher levels and thus become stronger.

This is the moment when adventures and Dark Shadows (strong opponents) come into play and expand the possibilities of the players. Whenever a player has fulfilled the second task of a town card he draws a treasure and an adventure card is placed on any other town card. This adventure can be undertaken by any hero or a group of heroes. Three different tasks must be fulfilled before a final enemy must be defeated. The successful player(s) then have to place the Dark Shadow on a town card. Whoever defeats this Shadow gets some extra prestige points. These prestige points are needed to win the game, and apart from the possibility to defeat a Shadow, prestige points are given for treasures, artefacts that can be got by the tokens, reaching higher levels and to be the first to reach a value of "12" in an attribute. The game is won by the player who has first reached five prestige points.

[IMAGE] On several occasions during the game the players must pass a test against an attribute. The player then rolls a 20-sided dice and adds his value for this attribute, sometimes altered by items. The result must be at least 20 to succeed. Very often the test also has a resistance value, too. Then the dice is rolled again, the resistance value is added and the test is only passed if the sum of the player is the higher one. Fighting against monsters is done in similar fashion, only that in this case the value of attacking (for the attacker) and defending (for the defender) are added. Heroes as well as monsters have several life points and so a fight can last several rounds of attacking and defending. Compared to the Midgard RPG, the tests and fights are very similar. Roleplayers will love that, other players might be a little annoyed about the fights due to the back and forth of attacking and defending.

Whereas direct player interaction had not been very distinctive in Rückkehr der Helden, it is solved in a quite interesting way in Midgard. Thus, it is now possible to attack the companions which might have joined a player for an adventure. However, to prevent pure vandalism among the players, a player who has attacked another one gets a "minus 2" marker. As long as he possesses this marker, he is not allowed to attack another player. It costs two actions to remove this marker, so that an attack on another player will force the attacking player to loose some time.

More interesting and constructive interaction between the players is caused by the possibility to challenge an adventure or a task together. The active player may take other players with him if they stand on the same town tile and agree to follow him. These followers each give the active player a bonus of "4" in every task of this turn. In exchange the followers get an extra action that they can use for all possible actions but movement. This interaction normally results in interesting discussions and thoughts like: "Do you want to come with me?" "What is my advantage?" "Should I really support the leading player?"

Ok, these now are the basic rules. Of course it is not possible to recite all details of the 24 pages of rules in this review. But I hope that you have got a rough overview to judge the game without looking two deep at the fine tuning.

Before I give my final evaluation of the game itself, one word has to be said about the rules themselves: In my mind, they need a revision to straighten out some little mistakes in the rulebook and on the cards (check the good update in the internet!). Also, the rulebook is somewhat hard to read for someone who is not familiar with RPGs, and some confusion at the beginning is probable as well. Thus, you and your companions really should study the rules very carefully, since otherwise you will have consult the rulebook quite often in your first games. There are a lot of details that are hard to find and remember on the 24 pages. Some cross references might be very helpful and I think there should be even more examples from play, maybe even a complete round.


If you have ever loved RPGs, you should acquire a copy of Midgard because it really is fun to play. The origin of the RPG can be seen and felt very clearly, and I was fondly remembering the time when I played Das Schwarze Auge and Middle Earth several years ago. The game is also an attempt to give other players an understanding of RPGs in a moderate way. This experiment succeeds if one player knows the rules by heart and can help other players on every occasion, but if no one has prepared the game to this degree there is a high chance that the players might get lost and could loose interest. This would be a pity and quite undeserved, because - once understood - the game is not very complicated and will appeal to a lot of players with an interest in fantasy games. The game is played in about two hours, but the introduction into the rules will take some time as well.

Of course, a final comparison with the GAMES WORKSHOP boardgame classic Talisman should not be missing in this review, but it is hard to compare Midgard with one of the most successful fantasy boardgames. However, I think Midgard plays its role very well: while Talisman has a lot of fans who had never known an RPG, Midgard is much more interesting for experienced RPG players. The atmosphere and the mechanisms of roleplaying are much deeper than in Talisman, so that the fact that the game offers less artwork than the older classic is more than made up by the deeper and better developed rules. If the game is a success, I am quite sure that there will be one or more expansions to adopt even more elements of the RPG. I am keeping my fingers crossed for Lutz Stepponat and the new publisher PHANTASTISCHE SPIELEWELTEN and wish them good luck for the further development!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany