In Blood Rage, each player controls their own Viking clan’s warriors, leader, and ship. Ragnarök has come, and it’s the end of the world! It’s the Vikings’ last chance to go down in a blaze of glory and secure their place in Valhalla at Odin’s side! For a Viking there are many pathways to glory. You can invade and pillage the land for its rewards, crush your opponents in epic battles, fulfill quests, increase your clan's stats, or even die gloriously either in battle or from Ragnarök, the ultimate inescapable doom.
Most player strategies are guided by the cards drafted at the beginning of each of the three game rounds (or Ages). These “Gods’ Gifts” grant you numerous boons for your clan including: increased Viking strength and devious battle strategies, upgrades to your clan, or even the aid of legendary creatures from Norse mythology. They may also include various quests, from dominating specific provinces, to having lots of your Vikings sent to Valhalla. Most of these cards are aligned with one of the Norse gods, hinting at the kind of strategy they support. For example, Thor gives more glory for victory in battle, Heimdall grants you foresight and surprises, Tyr strengthens you in battle, while the trickster Loki actually rewards you for losing battles, or punishes the winner.
Players must choose their strategies carefully during the draft phase, but also be ready to adapt and react to their opponents’ strategies as the action phase unfolds. Battles are decided not only by the strength of the figures involved, but also by cards played in secret. By observing your opponent’s actions and allegiances to specific gods, you may predict what card they are likely to play, and plan accordingly. Winning battles is not always the best course of action, as the right card can get you even more rewards by being crushed. The only losing strategy in Blood Rage is to shy away from battle and a glorious death!
How to Play
Blood Rage is played over a series of three ages, each with six phases characterized by advancing the game in a different way. At the end of the third age, final scores are calculated, and the player with the most glory is
the winner. Glory is scored in many different ways—by winning battles, by advancing your faction’s capabilities, by completing quests, and sometimes even when your units die a glorious death.
But first, let’s start from the start. Each player chooses a clan, and then collects all pieces associated with it—including a leader mini, a ship mini, eight warrior minis, and four leftover colored bases used to distinguish any allies you recruit. Tokens on your faction board keep track of four different values—the amount of rage you generate at the beginning of each turn, the amount of glory you score for winning a battle, and the total number of units you can have on the board at once. Those three are referred to as your clan’s “stats.” The fourth value is your current amount of rage, which is spent as the primary resource throughout the game.
Don’t worry. We’ll get to the part where everyone starts killing each other in a minute.
The game board is, intentionally, very simple. Eight provinces, separated into three regions, surround the central province—Yggdrasil. Each province is assigned a random tile, which will grant a stat bonus to the first clan that wins a battle there each turn. Yggdrasil always bears the same tile, which increases each of the victor’s stats by one, making it quite desirable. Fjords are featured in the water areas where two regions intersect, and are considered adjacent to the two provinces at that border—ships here can participate in battles at both provinces.
As the final part of the setup, a number of provinces are destroyed by the fires of Ragnarok itself, causing the board to shrink in a fashion that scales to the number of players. This isn’t the last time we’ll see this element. One new non-Yggdrasil province—and all units present there—are obliterated at the end of each round.
Each age follows the same sequence of steps, which flow quite naturally, and this progression is marked with a Saga Token. First, players are dealt eight cards, whose power levels vary depending on the current age. These cards are drafted in typical fashion until each player ends up with six cards. The remaining cards are returned to the box, and players keep their own cards secret from other players. These cards can employ a variety of powerful effects—from increasing strength in battle, to recruiting new monsters or allies, to upgrading your clan’s units, and even charging you with quests that can be completed to score glory towards the end of each round.
Some of the battle cards are very strong, with enough punch to potentially double your presence in a fight.
After the card draft comes the action phase, and this phase is the game’s main course. Each player, in order, selects and executes one of five different possible actions, paying any Rage costs necessary. The actions are: invade, march, upgrade, quest, and pillage.
To invade, select a unit in your reserve, and place it in an available slot on the game board—a Village for most units, but ships invade into the fjord spaces. It’s important to note that Yggdrasil has no Villages, so your units cannot directly invade it. Once you’ve placed your unit, you must pay rage equal to that unit’s strength in battle. For example, a ship’s strength is two, so two rage must be paid to deploy it.
To march, select a single province where your units are present, and you may move any number of them to
another province (provided that province has enough free Villages to accommodate your marching units). Ships, alas, cannot march.
Upgrading is simple—just pay an upgrade’s rage cost in hand, and play it in its appropriate slot on your faction board. Upgrades offer ongoing benefits for your units or clans, or they can allow you to recruit special allies. Whenever you spend rage to upgrade a specific unit, or to play an upgrade card that allows you to access an ally, you may immediately invade with one of those units for free.
Say hello to my not-all-that-little friend.
Questing is also simple. Just choose a quest card in your hand, and play it face down in front of you, announcing you are committing to that quest. This action does not cost any rage at all, and will allow you to score glory towards the end of the phase if those objectives are met.
Pillage is the final action, which initiates a battle at a province, and also costs no rage. If you successfully pillage a province for the first time each round, you receive the benefits noted on that province’s tile, which will either increase one of your faction’s stats, or score a set amount of glory. To determine the outcome of the battle, take the following three steps.
First, sound the call to battle. In turn order, one unit at a time, each player may move units from adjacent provinces into that province, so long as there are sufficient spaces among the contested province’s villages. This movement costs no rage, but it’s important to remember that ships cannot move. If no other players move into the province, and your attack is unopposed, then just skip to the end and score the bonus on the tile (but do not score any glory).
Next, all players with one or more units present in the battle must select a single card from their hand (if able), and play it face down in front of them. These cards are revealed simultaneously. Any red battle cards played will increase their players’ strength in the battle by the designated value. Other cards usually have no effect.
Finally, determine the winner and resolve the battle. The player with the highest strength value is the winner. If there is a tie for the highest, then all players lose. Losing players send all of their units present to Valhalla, including ships in adjacent Fjords. If the player that initiated the Pillage wins, he or she receives the bonus noted on the province’s tile. The winner then scores Glory equal to his Axes stat’s value—a minimum of three points—which takes into consideration any increase to this stat earned during the battle.
Here, the brown clan has a leader (3 strength) and two warriors (1 strength each). Red has a warrior, and includes the ship (2 strength) in the adjacent fjord into the battle. Each player plays their card face down, revealing them at the same time, and adding the bonus to their army. The result is that brown has five total strength, while red ends up with six. All brown units are sent to Valhalla, and red wins the battle.
These are all the actions that a player can take during this phase. It’s important to note that a player with zero remaining Rage cannot take any action (other than to move units during a call to battle at the beginning of an opponent’s pillage). The action phase is over once all players have consecutively passed.
The rest of the phases in the age are very straightforward. Players discard down to one card in hand, then players reveal their quest cards and score the rewards if they’ve met the requirements. The forewarned province marked by the revealed chit now falls to the fires of Ragnarok. Each unit present in that province is sent to Valhalla and scores an amount of Glory that increases as the ages progress. Finally, all units in Valhalla are returned to their owners’ reserves, and can be deployed again next turn.
Play proceeds in this fashion until the end of the third age, when final scoring commences. Each stat track that has been advanced to a “legendary” level will score a significant amount of glory for its controller. For example, if a clan’s Axes track has been advanced to its maximum, that player scores an additional twenty glory at the end of the game. If that track had been advanced to either of the previous two slots, it would be worth ten points.
Revisions and Expansions
Blood Rage: 5th Player Expansion
Blood Rage: Gods of Ásgard
Blood Rage: Mystics Of Midgard Expansion
Blood Rage Foam core Insert (pre-assembled)
Blood Rage Organizer