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Asgard

Reviewed by: Chris Kovac

(What’s Your Game?, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-120 minutes, $50)

asgard1Asgard is a four player worker placement game designed by Pierluca Zizzi with a theme of Nordic gods battling it out for control of the seven worlds. The goal of the game is to have the most points (by building temples, winning battles during normal rounds of play, and backing the winning gods in Ragnorak) by the end of Ragnorak (end of the world) which occurs after five rounds.

You have a fairly detailed twelve point setup which involves filling up the seven worlds (plus two underworlds) in the center of the board with starting populations, putting the various god tiles/magic stones on each of the gods and setting up the Asgard space with recruits, special power tiles and most of the players’ influence discs. The board consists of a top Asgard space, a central “worlds” area (where you have the seven worlds plus two underworlds) and, on the sides, ten gods (five light gods on the left and five dark gods on the right).

Each player starts with a set of ten god cards, three influence discs and a randomly dealt starting turn marker. As well, each player (except the first) gets to select an initial recruit from a starting pool since the starting player has an advantage in the game. You are now ready to play.

A turn consists of the following phases: Choosing god tiles, Select actions, Perform actions, Fighting Battles on the Seven Worlds and Resetting (for the next round).

In the Choosing God Tiles phase, each player chooses god cards where he will play his action discs. He can choose as many gods as he has action discs (never fewer than two). He places his choices face down in front of him.

Beginning with the start player and proceeding in play turn order, players Select Actions by turning over one of their face down god cards and placing one of their influence discs on one of the action spaces of the shown god or in Asgard. Each god usually has one or two request slots and a temple slot. The next player then gets to do an action, continuing in player turn order, until all action discs are used.

asgard4With all action discs placed, the Perform Action phase starts. Again, in player turn order, each player chooses one of his influence discs on a god’s action slot and performs the action. If you choose a request slot, you get two enchanted stones of the respective gods (one if you choose Odin). Furthermore, if you choose the upper of two requests on some gods, you also get a god’s special power or, in some cases, a power tile which can used by the player later in the game. These special powers include things like changing the player turn order (Odin), getting an additional turn (Thor) or stealing recruits from other players (Loki). If there are no more enchanted stones, you take them from the player with the most stones. This also applies to the various god power tiles. So you have to use your stones/god power tiles fairly quickly or risk losing them to another player.

If you choose a temple slot, you have to “pay” the god in recruits as shown in the topmost available support slot. You must give the god all your recruits of the requested color. If you do not have any recruits of this type, you cannot use this action. If you can use this action, you can build a temple (from one of four shown) by paying the requested number of enchanted stone tiles. Temples are worth various amount of victory points and are scored each round at the start of the battle phase. As well, you take the face up god tile and place it on one of the seven worlds or two under worlds. You can only place the god tile on the light side if the tile if a light god and a dark side if a dark god. You cannot replace a god already on a world slot. He then takes the population tile and keeps the tile if it has a special power. These special powers are one use tiles which can be used by the player over the course of the game and give you things like extra seals or the ability to swap enchanted stones.

If you place a god on one of the two underworld spaces you get five victory points. Influence discs on a god are locked in a support slot for the rest of the game for a temple action (they come back to the player if used on a request slot or from Asgard). If the player uses an Asgard action, he first can choose from one of the three active Asgard tiles and perform the action shown on the tile then flip the tile. If all actions have been chosen, then he cannot use this part of the Asgard action. He can buy recruits or additional action discs by using seals. You get seals (white one for light gods, black ones for dark gods) by being the first player in a round to use one of the gods action slots. When you buy an extra influence disc you can either place it in front of you to use for next round or put it on a battle slot on one of the seven worlds.

asgard3Fighting Battles: All battles including the Ragnorak round are resolved in world order (each world has a number). You turn over two tiles of the ancient weapon decks (one light and one dark) which are the base power for all battles on light and dark worlds for the round. Next, you score any temples that any players have built. If you have an influence disc on a world’s battle slot, you first get to choose from either the weapon deck (light god worlds) or wizardry deck (dark god worlds) one tile which you can use in the final Ragnorak battles. Next, you compare the two sides in the battle.

If the battle is between two gods or two populations, you add them to the base power (weapon deck tiles). In the case of a god vs. population, the population strength is not added to the base power. You then compare the power of each side with the highest side winning. If you have a disc under the winning side, you can move it to the victory point area of the world tile. If other players fight here in later rounds, they put their disc on top of the earlier “victors” influence disc (important in the scoring round). If you lose, you move them to the centre tree area where they can be used in later battles when (if) you bring down another action disc through an Asgard action You can influence the final battle by sending recruits that you have to your side in the battle with warriors being worth one and giants worth two strength. Any recruits used here go back to the Valhalla space in Asgard. After all battles have been resolved, you check to see if anyone gets any battle victory point tiles. The more victories you have, the higher point victory point tile you are entitled to. These tiles are cumulative over the game and if any of them run out before you get one you do not get a tile.

asgard2In the Resetting (for the next round) phase (not officially a phase but should be), one of the new gods (Mimir, Surtr and Fenrir) comes into play and his god tiles/enchanted stones have to be set up. New seals are put down beside god areas where they have been used. Next, the five Asgard action tiles are chosen and three chosen randomly to be the active Asgard action tiles for the next round. Finally, you check to make sure each player has at least two influence tiles. If he does not, you have to take one from one of the support slots or victory areas on the seven worlds. Then a new round starts.

After five rounds, a Ragnorak round is played and then the game ends.

In the Ragnorak round, you first remove any influence discs on the seven worlds or in the center tree area. Next, any battle involving population vs. population has both tiles removed since this world will not be fought over. Finally, any god on an underworld tile is removed. Now you move players’ support discs from the support slot to the respective god on the world board (if more than one god tile of the same type you distribute you discs as you choose). This shows which battles the players can influence with collected weapon/wizardry tiles as well as warrior and/or giants. If the battle involves a god vs. population, the population gets one of the ancient weapon discs randomly drawn (white goes to light populations, dark to dark populations) which will be added to the population in the final battle. Now you take all the recruits on a god and place them as evenly as possible on the respective god tiles on the seven world tiles (excess going to the lower numbered god tile). Next players, in player turn order, can choose a warrior in Valhalla to influence a battle where he has a disc. Finally, players in player turn order play any weapon/wizardry tiles they wish on battles where they have a disc. The battles are then resolved in order.

If the population wins or there is a tie, no final victory points are awarded. If only one person wins, they get the higher of the victory points shown on the world. If two people, the disc on top gets the topmost points and the second the bottommost points. The most victory points wins with ties broken by player turn order.

Asgard is a game where you never have enough actions to do all things you wish to do in a round. You have to balance getting the enchanted stones you need with building temples and participating in battles, trying to choose the winning gods for Ragnorak. So good planning for which actions you take and how you take them is the key to winning this game.

Components, especially the god artwork, are very good. The rules are a little vague in spots and the company has released an updated rule book which helps clarify most of them. The long setup might also detract from the game for some players. I think it’s a bit heavy for family or casual gamers. However, overall, this is one of those medium heavy weight games with lots of tough decisions which should appeal to gamers. Overall I would rate this game a 7.5 out of ten.


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