Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Tomasz Kazmierski &
Tomasz Kaznocha


No. of Players:
3 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Vikings: Warriors of the North is a card-driven game about Viking Jarls (=Earls), who are fighting for the Konung`s (=King) crown. The aim is to bring three daughters of thanes from different villages to a player's own war camp. Because of this combination of a militant background story and lascivious illustrations of the young ladies, the game evoked some anger in internet forums. Yes, it is hard to stick to the political correctness in our days, but by no means can the publisher be accused of sexist motives. You only have to check out other games by REBEL.PL, and there you can find men and women looking at us in total harmony from the game boxes. And let us be honest: the illustrations are great and the ladies are not dressed revealingly. Who knows, maybe these daughters of thanes are looking for a way to get away from their home lands because their fathers planned to marry them to some dumb brutes? So, let us concentrate on the game and forget the heated-up debate…


Although Vikings mainly is a card game is does not come without a board. This board shows us a part of the Northern sea, with the harbours of up to four players and some sea spaces on which the long ships of the players sail to the villages of the other thanes. We can also find the surrounding land with a lot of small islands. In the middle of the board there is a huge sea space. This is quite useful, because so we can quickly travel from one side of the board to the other. But at the beginning of the game this space is still occupied by a sea monster that must be fought before any player can sail into this sea space. On our way we also have to defend ourselves against the other players - fighting between the players is allowed and even desirable. In addition, every player gets his own player board that represents his ship and has three spaces for crew members.

Three different types of cards can be found in the game: First we have wind cards which can be used to move a player's long ship on the board - if that is possible as the wind cards give us specific directions in which we can sail. As there are only two wind symbols on one wind card, not every wind card can be used in every sea space. Additionally there are some sea spaces which are only accessible from two or three directions. Finally there are more symbols than the four normal wind directions, and so you may sometimes find yourself at a place where you cannot use any of your wind cards to move away.

The second type of cards are event cards. These cards are used in many ways and have quite various effects. A lot of the cards are used to influence other player's actions or movements (e.g. to move a long ship of an opponent), some even are played as reaction cards (e.g. to cancel an effect). And then some of the event cards can also be used as wind cards with a given direction.

Finally, there are hero cards: hero cards represent characters that are played on one of the three spaces of the player boards. Heroes give the players various advantages. The power of most hero cards can be used once per round, but some also have a lasting effect on a player's actions. Those heroes play a major role in the game, especially during combat. So it is always advisable to have a good crew before going into a fight. There are also heroes that improve the player's sailing abilities, and even the daughters of thanes count as hero cards as long as they are in the player's long ship. Unfortunately they are of no practical use, but they block space for other heroes and they can - like other crew members - be stolen by other players during combat.


A player's turn consists of three steps. First two new cards are drawn from the unused deck of action cards. Then a hero card from our hand may be played to the player's board. After that we may perform as many actions from our hand (wind or event cards) as whished. All other players may perform a counter reaction after we have played an event card. After I first read the rules this counter-reaction phase seemed to slow the game down, but after playing several games I learned that the counter reaction is rarely used, and so the main action of the active player is not constantly interrupted. Finally - and most new players tend to forget this rule during the game - we may use oars to move our ship one step without the use of a wind card. This is a very important rule since rowing is sometimes the only possibility to move a ship from a lonely sea space with few exits.

Next to the actions available from the cards and the special rowing-action, there are also some standard actions we can choose from. Most important of these actions is the attack on another player. A player can announce an attack if his long ship is in the same space as an opponent's ship or if he moves into the space of the sea monster. The result of the attack is determined by a roll of a dice adding or subtracting bonuses from event cards that were played by the combatants and from the involved the crew members of both players. Note that in contrast to the crew members, event cards that influence the combat results can be played by every player. So a player who shows his real strength too early in the game often finds himself confronted by a huge alliance of the other players. That's why it is sometimes more advisable to hide your strong cards from the other players right till the end-game.

The reason for this can be found when looking at the result of a combat: the winner of a fight may draw one card from the opponent's hand and takes another one from the deck of unused cards. If the victory was a decisive one (the final combat result is a six or higher) the attacker may additionally take one of the defender's crew members (hero cards on the player's board). So here is another way to get a daughter of thane without sailing to the villages - stealing her from one of the other players. In fact, stealing daughters of thane is a clever way to win the game, because with the help of the huge sea space in the middle of the board you will be much faster getting your daughters of thane from weaker opponents than by sailing to the villages.


But what can we do about the sea monster? At the beginning of the game the sea monster blocks the way through the huge sea space. So we have to fight it before we can sail through this space. The combat is similar to an attack on an opponent, and if the attack against the sea monster is successful, the monster may be moved to any space on the board. So, the monster actually can be employed to block the way of other players. The block works in two ways: on the one hand, the sea monster must be fought and defeated, but in order to begin a combat a player first has to sail into the monster's current location. It's too bad if the blocked player does not possess a wind card which allows such a move, because the player now will have to take a detour since the rules do not allow the beginning of a combat against the sea monster by a one-step rowing movement (rowing ends a player's turn).

The game ends immediately if one player has saved his third daughter of thane. Of course this player is also the winner of the game.

Vikings-Warriors of the North comes in a big box, but it is fast-paced card game and easy to learn. It seems to be quite simple, but with Slavikia and especially Drako REBEL.PL has proven, that they know how to make fascinating games with simple rules. However, whereas it took some time for me to really enjoy Slavikia,Vikings-Warriors of the North at once fascinated me. I know that there are some players who think the game is just about sailing around and so they use their cards mainly to move from one point to another. And I must confess that there is a risk to play it in that way. But when you feel that someone is in front, you should always try to attack him and then you learn to use the various effects of your cards. In addition, a clever use of the sea monster helps winning the game. While the sea monster is not exactly what you would call invincible, it helps to slow your opponents down.

I have read about other players who try to find a lasting strategy to win the game, but I think that this is not what the game is designed for. To the contrary, you will fare better if you react to the current situation and you will either have the right cards or not. If not, don't fret - there will always follow your next turn when the table may turn. Of course there is a good amount of luck necessary to win, and this can perhaps be seen as a disadvantage of the game, but overall the game is best when you play it fast and accept your destiny and the shifting winds of fate. This can be disturbing for some hardcore strategists, but when you accept that there is no best strategy to win the game the good degree of player interaction provides for a lot of fun. In addition, the playing atmosphere provided by the great card-artwork is quite enjoyable, and so it's always a pleasure to place one of the mighty warriors or the beautiful (though a little bit lascivious) daughters of thane onto your ship.

The game always took me about an hour, but with experienced players you can perhaps play a bit faster. It is designed for 3 to 4 players. The three player game is OK, but a real battle only evokes with four players. For me the game was especially attractive because of the various effects of the different cards. All this is crying out for an expansion and when I asked Maciej Teleglow of REBEL.PL at the SPIEL 2013 he confessed that the first version had about 200 cards in play. So, there is a chance that an expansion will be released in 2014. I would say that there exist a lot of weaker games which justify an expansion much less than this game!

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Copyright & copy; 2014 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany