In the name of Odin

In the Name of Odin is a boardgame for 2 to 5 players created by Krzysztof Zięba and published by NSKN games. In this game every player takes on the role of a Viking trying to be chosen by the Allfather as the new jarl and rule In the Name of Odin. You will try to gain the most fame by building your village, recruiting lots of Vikings including well known heroes and take your Longships to raid faraway lands.

Setup is mainly done on the central gameboard. Place the Vikings in the Mead Hall and the damage and construction markers on their respective spaces. Shuffle the actions cards deck and give each player six cards, afterwards place the deck on the board and fill up the action card offer. Take a certain amount of raid cards depending on the number of players and place the just formed raid deck on its space on the board. Reveal raids until all raid spaces are filled. Take a random Viking token and place on the center sea zone, repeat this for the bottom sea zone. Shuffle the Building, Hero and Longship cards separately and place them on their respective places filling up the Offers afterwards. Give each player a player board and a token to represent their color. Place this marker on the 0 space of the Fame track. The player who can bellow out “ODIN” the loudest becomes the start player (or choose another less noisy random method) and you are ready to start In the Name of Odin.

 

A player’s turn consists of two phases, the Action phase and the Draw phase. Player will continue to take turns until all raid cards have been raided at which point the game immediately ends with a final scoring. The player with the most fame in the end will be named jarl In the Name of Odin.

The action phase is the meat of the game. You can take as many actions as you want as long as you can pay for them or execute them.  In this phase the Action cards play an integral role. Each action card has two symbols on it, the upper symbol represents one of the three types of Vikings there are and is used for gaining Vikings. The bottom symbol of which there are also three types is used for buying, returning or repairing a Longship, for buying buildings and construction tokens, hiring heroes or are used during raids.

The first action you can choose from is the Action card exchange. This is the only action that you can perform only once during each turn. This action gives you the possibility to exchange one of your cards with one in the Action card offer. You have the option to discard one of your action cards to replace all the cards in the Action card offer before executing the action. The second action you can do is gather Vikings. The amount of symbols of the same type you play determines the amount of Vikings you can gather. You may expend 1/2/3 symbols to gather 1/3/6 Vikings. You can have no more than 10 Vikings on your player board but you can choose which Vikings you want to keep. Building an Inn lets you keep up to 14 Vikings.

The next action you can perform is recruit a hero by paying recruitment symbols equal to the cost printed on the board next to the hero which varies from 2 to 4. Usually the hero who has been longest in play is the cheapest. If you buy the leftmost hero you immediately gain one fame. When a hero has been bought all other heroes shift to the right if possible and you draw a new Viking to fill up the row. Another action you can perform is your hero action. Here you have two distinct abilities, raid abilities and non-raid abilities. Like the word says, a raid ability can only be used during a raid and non-raid ability can be used anytime during your turn except during a raid. The heroes also have a Viking symbol to show that they can be used as one of that type of Viking when going on raids. Once you use a Hero action the Hero is discarded to the bottom of its deck.

You can also buy construction tokens by spending craftsmanship symbols. The price of a construction is 1 plus the number of buildings and construction tokens you already have. These construction tokens are needed for constructing buildings which brings us to the next action you can perform, construct a building. The cost of each building is 1 construction token and 3 craftsmanship. Each building corresponds to one space on your player board. You have the Shipyard, Jarl’s House, Forge, Inn and Runic Circle. Once a building is built it stays there for the rest of the game, you cannot change it with another building of the same type. Afterwards the empty space in the building offer is filled up with a new card from the deck. These buildings will give you one or more abilities to use multiple times during a game and some of them will also give you fame at the end of the game.

   

For going on a raid we need a Longship to get our Vikings to those far way lands. To buy a Longship you have to expend 3 seamanship and place it in an empty space on your player board. In the beginning you only have space for 1 Longship and you cannot voluntarily discard it to make room for another. Building a shipyard will give you room for more Longships. These Longships each have a range which is important when you go raiding, some of them might already have Vikings on board or give you fame points during raids or at the end of the game. You can also pay 2 seamanship to return a Longship from a raid or remove 1 damage from a Longship which will become clear after the raid explanation.

Now finally we can go on raids and get some more fame. To declare the raid action you need a Hero on your player board and at least 1 face-up Longship. Once you declare a raid action you choose which Raid card you want to fulfill and you can only choose one which you really can complete. You choose the Longship that you want to use and has sufficient range. The Raid card in the upper Sea zone requires 1 range, the center Sea zone 2 range and the bottom Sea zone 3 range. Next you have to expend Vikings from your board to fulfill the requirements of the card and the Viking token if present. Remember that your Hero, Longship and buildings might give you discounts but you always have to return at least 1 Viking to the Mead Hall. After the Vikings have been expended the other players have the opportunity to modify the raid requirements. Each player now has the option to play 1 card for its action symbol to a maximum of 3 cards. After each player had the option to do this and there are less than 3 cards played you play the remaining from the action card deck uyntil you have exactly 3 cards. Now the player must try and match these symbols of the card. Each corresponding symbol you play immediately removes one of those cards. According to the number of cards not remaining you get a bonus. If there are 0/1/2/3 remaining cards on the table you get +1/0/-1/-2 fame. Now you get the fame points from the raid card, the sea zone and the remaining cards. Afterwards you turn over your Longship face-down and place 1 damage on it. Each damage counter diminishes its range by 1. If its range ever becomes 0 the Longship is destroyed and placed on the bottom of its deck. The Hero is discarded to the bottom of its deck, used or not. You replenish the raid cards by sliding them down to fill up empty the space and you draw a new card from the raid deck if possible. If the Sea zone had a Viking token next to it you replace it with the one next to the board. Each player who played an action card to modify the raid requirements gets to draw one card from the action deck.

After a player has done the actions he wanted to do he goes into the draw phase. Here you draw action cards from the deck until you have 6 cards in hand, 7 if you have built a Runic Circle. Now your turn is over and the next player gets to take their turn.

This continues until the last raid card has been completed at which point the game immediately ends and the end scoring starts. In the end scoring you get the fame printed on each of your buildings. You also get the fame for the Longships you have in your possession, no matter if they are damaged or face-down they just have to be in your possession. Every complete set of 3 Vikings of the same type is worth 1 Fame. Every complete set of 3 different Vikings is also worth 1 Fame. Important to note is that a Viking can used in both sets. The player with the most fame is the winner and will be crowned Jarl In the Name of Odin. In case of a tie the player with the fewest raids is the winner.    

Now what do we think of the game. Actually it is a really fun game to play. That you can do various things with your cards during your turn is always a fun mechanic and there are no bad actions to choose from. I also love the fact that the more cards you spend in gathering Vikings, the more Vikings you get respectively. It can sometimes happen that you want to do a certain action but you don’t get the cards for it but that doesn’t happen very often because of the option to exchange a card with the card offer.  There are also no bad actions in this game, every action you choose helps you in one way or another. Either you get a Hero which has some nice abilities that can help you one the way or you work on your buildings that help you in various ways during the course of the game. You also need to build and maintain your longships to go on raids and it is always handy to have some Vikings to spare. The main part of the game are the raids and everything you do during the game is preparing to go on a raid. The raid you choose to go too is usually the one that gives you the most points that you can reach with your longship. The better you do at these the more chance you have of winning. Theoretically it is possible to do two raids in one turn and to finish the game this might happen but usually you only do one and use your cards to counteract the actions played by your opponents at the end of a raid. This counteracting is the only real interaction between players in the game yet it can have a significant impact on your scoring. This counteracting truly shines when there is a full complement of players. In this case every player can deliberately play the same action symbol or all different symbols to make it harder for the player to counteract, otherwise it is just the luck (or bad luck) of the draw. The design of the game is top notch, everything has its place on the central board or your own board and the artwork is beautiful. They could have easily chosen for wooden cubes to represent the Vikings but they went the extra mile and put in real Viking miniatures. Ok they might be a bit bendy but I prefer them any day over wooden cubes (I’m looking at you, Lords of Waterdeep). All in all this is real fun and well balanced game with some nice decisions to be made where the theme is well incorporated. The turns go fluent and the scores are tight. We love playing it and this one is right up our alley.

Play with honor

Johnny