Champions of Midguard
I played Champions of Midgard yesterday. It was the first time I played it and I did fairly well for most of the game. I had the point lead, including all stated points on cards, etc., for much of the game. I came in third, just a few points behind second place and a huge way from first. It’s a fun game and in many ways better than other similar games like Lords of Waterdeep and Raiders of the North Sea.
One thing that stood out in my mind today was the pay-to-win mechanic. After a successful battle or by some other means, like paying cash, players collect tokens (Valkyrie?) that can then be used later as payment to reroll. The dice rolling mechanism for battle ends up being a dice rolling mechanism to spend points to win the battle. Players are not rolling to win or lose, they are rolling to determine how many points it will cost them to win. Once a player has some of these tokens, there is little to no risk of losing the battle, only of losing points. In fact, we could step back a little further and imagine that the rolling of dice is really used to determine how many points are gained, above zero, doing the battle.
I both like and dislike dice rolling for battles. I’ve had a day where I rolled a whole lot of one’s playing Eclipse. Not just a few one’s but nothing but one’s. I think at one point in that game, I rolled five dice and had four of them show one’s (and a two or three on the last die). So dice games can be brutal. Champions of Midgard did a pretty good job of letting players mitigate risk by letting players pick how many dice they use, what type of dice they are, and by letting them re-roll by paying victory points. But with all the mitigation, this may as well have been a game of Raiders of the North Sea where dice are only rolled to determine how many points are gained during the battle.
Before we played Champions yesterday, the group played Evolution Climate at my request. I’m now always looking for hour long easy-setup card/board games. This seemed like a good choice. It went strangely wrong with us playing two games using the wrong rule for how to handle the climate. I think that I no longer trust anyone else in the group to read rule books. I don’t trust myself much but playing two games over the course of thirty minutes only to then discover that climate only changes one step per round no matter how many suns and snowflakes appear on the cards, was a serious rule reading mistake by the other player. We finally played one more game wit the right rules and we played for at least 30 minutes. Maybe longer. The game went ok and only sucked because we all were thrown off by the first two “practice” games and because there were more than 4 players. Games just suck a bit more for each player added above 3 in my mind. The time between turns and complexity of player interactions starts to become depressing with large player numbers.
I would buy a copy of this game but I doubt that anyone in the group would play it after yesterday.