[Review] Blood Rage by CoolMiniOrNot

Blood Rage all viking clans

We recently finished our second playthrough of the base game for Blood Rage by Cool Mini Or Not and so we figured we were at a good enough place in our understanding to provide you with a review (especially since it is the holidays and you might wind up with this in your stocking if you are lucky).

Note: This review will contain some technical aspects so, if you are curious or confused, the rulebook is is available in the TL;DR section.

TL;DR

Good quality. Fair price. With Cool Mini Or Not's proven track record, you are best buying their games via Kickstarter due to the bonuses. While it's a little late to get Blood Rage this way, you can still get Arcadia Quest Inferno until December 8th, 2015.

The game is entirely PVP (lots of raping of villages and burning of women) so be prepared to turn some of your best friends into your worst enemies over the course of an evening. The game can be very unbalanced due to the level of RNG involved (which is to say a lot). If all Ragnarok locations are places that you would normally pillage for Rage, the inevitable winner (no contest) will be whoever was able to start and hold the rage steal battle card (Loki's Trickery) until, at the earliest, the Second Age when Heimdall's Watch (Discard all revealed cards) becomes available.

Skip the ship upgrade until the Third Age as it will provide an additional 4 Glory over the previous versions. Couple this with the Clan Upgrade, Frygga's Protection, and you have a 12 Glory per turn kamikaze for 1 Rage. The Frost Giant is also amazing.

Rulebook

On to the review.

Game Components

The board and additional markers are good quality cardboard, what you would expect out of a major retailer such as Hasbro, rather than a company funded largely through Kickstarter. After the release of Arcadia Quest we would expect nothing less.

Blood Rage Map Cards and Markers

The figures are what really stand out though with the inclusion of colored bases to mark Clan affiliation. These can definitely be multipurpose for any other role-playing games that you enjoy. The clan and monster figures are sturdy and look great, though we have not had an opportunity to paint them yet.

Blood Rage Characters and Bases

The cards and their effects are easy to understand so the game is very family friendly (minus the inherent difficulty of PVP elements with possibly younger children). The difficulty arrises, as mentioned above, when RNG takes effect and leaves a single player with a significant starting advantage. There are also a number of battle cards that will always end up as discards: flat +2's and often flat +3's, as well as "If you lose, steal 2 glory from the winning player" since winning will give you, at a minimum, 3 glory.

Always take the leader upgrade since your leader is a 3 Strength that is free to invade with.

First Age

Blood Rage First Age Cards

Second Age

Blood Rage Second Age Cards

Third Age

Blood Rage Third Age Cards

The clan sheet is also very easy to understand and is well layed out. Horns are the weakest of the 3 stats since it is rare that you will be able to sustain a large board presence and characters in Valhalla do not count against this number. The only time that you will likely come remotely close to cap is in the First Age. After that, Rage is by far most important since many of your upgrades can be quite expensive.

Blood Rage Clan Sheet

Gameplay

This is either very fast or very, very slow. Very complex or very, very simplistic. And much of it comes down to RNG. Gameplay is largely dictated by where Ragnarok occurs. In both games that were played, Yggdrasil did not make a lasting impact (though this could largely be due to play style rather than it never being a viable location to pillage. If it is to be pillaged, turn 3 in the First Age after invading with a leader and marching with a strong hand would likely be the best time to accomplish it as there won't be as many options to stop you. The issue arrises though that during those two turns you could lose out on at least 1 pillage (and the ability to stop others pillaging due to wanting to retain your single leader).

As for monsters, Soldier of Hel and the Frost Giant are ideal. Soldier of Hel gets to upgrade and invade for free (making it essentially a leader replacement) and Frost Giant gets a double pillage (especially useful if you get to enter Yggdrasil for the boost to every clan stat). The Mountain Giant is great if the other players like to use and buff warriors but did not see much play outside of that since it is only a 2 Strength (because of this, it isn't viable late game since an upgraded ship is superior for the cost).

 

So what do we give Blood Rage?

Thor's Hammer MjolnirThor's Hammer MjolnirThor's Hammer MjolnirThor's Hammer Mjolnir out of 5 Mjölnir's.

The game is competitive and fun, but the RNG heavy nature nullifies some of the strategy involved and keeps it from being perfect. I also would have liked it to be easier to spend all of the cards in my hand regularly. This was very difficult (especially during the First Age) due to the Rage cost.

 

Have you played Blood Rage or any other offerings from Cool Mini Or Not? What was your impression? Do you have a favorite board game that you think we should review/play? Let us know in the comments below. See you on Wednesday.

 

About Matt Merlenbach

Matt Merlenbach is the founder of MetaGamr. He loves RPG's and fears no gazebo. Connect with him at the links below:

3 Responses to [Review] Blood Rage by CoolMiniOrNot

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