Almost a year ago, I had the opportunity to review the game Champions of Midgard from Grey Fox Games. I gave a positive recommendation for the game. It was a fresh take on worker placement adding monsters and adventure to a style of game that sometimes lacks excitement.
I was a bit surprised recently to see not one but two new expansions for this game. I already thought it was a solid game. Expansions are interesting because they can add a lot to a game, add very little or even take away. This review covers both expansions and answers the question whether they are worth purchasing or not.
The Champions of Midgard, Dark Mountains expansion offers a variety of new additions to the game. First off, those itching to add an additional player can rejoice with the addition of a fifth player. Assoicated tokens and materials are included. Two new leaders have been added too, each with their own unique, powerful skill. Their names are Jorunn and Ragnhild.
A bunch of new cards have been added for variety too. There are 24 new enemy cards and five new rune cards. Just add them to the existing decks. A new Viking ship is also available as well as market stalls to accommodate the increased player count.
A new type of warrior, the archer, joins the Viking armies, but can only be obtained by completing land adventures (more on that below). Archers excel at hunting and can gather a lot of food with little effort. They are also extremely deadly, scoring a hit more often than most warriors.
Land adventures are a new option for players. Instead of heading out to sea on a ship laden with food and warriors, there is a new board that holds two possible land adventures. The adventures are to defeat the Bergrisar. Who are the Bergrisar? They are mighty goat-eating mountain giants hungry for blood.
But similar to the adventures at sea, attempting to complete a land adventure requires drawing a journey card, which may contain a hazard to overcome. By defeating a giant, rewards are received. They are not quite as good as sea adventures, but the coveted archers are available here as rewards.
For those who own Champions of Midgard, Dark Mountains is a "must-have" expansion. The addition of the land adventures, additional cards, leaders and the archer warriors are all awesome, but having the option to play with five players takes the cake. And the game plays extremely well with five.
Grey Fox Games didn't just jam an extra player into the exisiting game, it rebuilt the game with having a fifth player in mind. That makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying a smooth gaming experience.
The second expansion for Champions of Midgard, Valhalla also packs a ton of content into a small package. The theme of this expansion centers around the Viking idea of heaven called Valhalla. A separate board depicting Valhalla is included in the expansion.
One of the most frustrating parts of Champions of Midgard is losing warriors in battle. Not anymore! Now whenever a player loses a warrior, he gets a sacrifice token representing that warrior's entrance into heaven. Sacrifice tokens can be used to purchase special Valkyrie power cards that allow players to alter the game to achieve cool special advantages.
For example, a Valkyrie card might give a player the advantage of scoring more glory points or retrieving dice that have been lost during play. One particular blessing allows the player to collect more food. That's good because Vikings love food.
Joining the list of potential warriors for hire are two new units, the berserkers and the shield maidens. Berserkers can deal out a lot of damage but suffer on defense, while the shield maidens excel at defense while dealing out damage. Berserkers are unique because they must be taken first as a casualty no matter what types of units you possess. The pink berserker dice are a welcome sight at the table.
Entering the game for the first time now are epic monsters. Ever heard of Fenrir or the Nidhoggr? These terrifying beasties can only be bested in a certain way. Players can attempt to slay these beasts by spending the precious sacrifice tokens accumulated during the game for fallen warriors.
When defeated, Epic monsters grant an immediate bonus but also count towards scoring at the end of the game. They are limited and unique though, so players must plan ahead. Once Fenrir the giant wolf is slain, that's it.
Grey Fox Games also includes two new leaders with unique powers to the game. There is Hemming and Thyra. There is also the addition of nine leader ability boards that provide a secondary power to each player's leader. These secondary powers come with a blue leader die that can be added to the pool of warrior dice when needed.
If the correct symbol on the leader die is thrown, the secondary power triggers. But beware! Leaders can be destroyed in battle just like any other warrior. If the leader dies, the accompanying die is lost as a casualty (no more triggering that power). It must be regained through the blessing of the Valkyrie.
The expansion rounds out with the addition of a couple destiny cards that can be shuffled into the existing deck. All in all this is a solid expansion and fits its theme.
Champions of Midgard, Valhalla is certainly worth taking a serious look at. An expansion should add value, depth and excitement to a base game, and Valhalla does that extremely well. There's nothing like triggering your leader's ability during battle or pulling off a stunning victory using berserkers and shield maidens.
Grey Fox Games should be proud of the two new expansions it's created. Each one adds unique gameplay elements and exciting new mechanisms. The two expansions can even be played together for even more Viking adventure fun. The Dark Mountains expansion retails for $24.99 and the Valhalla expansion retails for $29.99. Find out more at GreyFoxGames.com.