Tuesday September 02, 2014

Norse themed cards fun to play


I will not go into my love of Viking-themed games in any detail here, as I have mentioned it before.

That said, it was the initial draw for the new card game Gone Viking.

To learn that the game, recently receiving funding via Kickstarter, is from The Flux Capacity company in Toronto quickly added to the interest, since I so enjoy proudly supporting Canadian game efforts.

The Kickstarter campaign gave a description of the basic game concepts and theme stating, “As a player in Gone Viking, you will try to become the richest Viking by collecting Wealth tokens. Which type of token you get depends on the type of Plunder card you use to win the trick. But after each raid, the Jarl will grab his share from the one Viking who has the most. Should you acquire the right combination of tokens, you can trade them in for a Viking ship that the Jarl can’t take from you. Using the power of the Viking gods will truly add to your success. Each suit in Gone Viking has a god associated with it, who also has its own unique affect on the game play.”

Company spokesperson Josh Bricker went into the ideas of the theme in a bit greater detail via email.

“The whole concept of the Raids that Vikings went on certainly lends itself to trick taking and resource collection that is at the heart of Gone Viking,” he said. “Originally this game did not have a Norse theme but when Francois and I spoke about getting this game to market we both thought that Vikings would be super-appropriate.”

That said the idea of Vikings was not part of the initial design.

“Originally, the first time I played it, it had different theme because the purpose of the design required it,” said Bricker who is not the designer. “We thought that the Viking theme truly conveyed the objectives of the game though so that’s how it evolved.”

So, did it make world creation more difficult in the sense they had to stay true to a lot of established legend and lore, being set against a Viking backdrop?

“We didn’t really have to create anything, which was great,” offered Bricker. “Instead it was more of an alignment that had to happen.

“For instance, how do we ensure that the tokens match the suits and have a suitable god associated with them?  

“As well we had to ensure that the god power, both home and raiding powers were well suited to the type of god that each one was.

“For example, Freya’s power is to make everyone wealthier, which is very fitting for her nature in Norse mythology.”

Again from the Kickstarter campaign, “a unique aspect and one of the major mechanics and strategic elements in Gone Viking is the placement of the gods and how to use their powers to your advantage at the most opportune moments.  Having played a god card at the right part of the game is the real meat behind becoming the richest Viking.”

This is where Gone Viking sets itself apart.

A new card game has to offer something unique, or we might as well be playing whist or rummy.

Bricker said he sees several aspects of the game being innovative.

“I think that there are three innovative parts to Gone Viking that make it stand out,” he said.

• The Boosting - the ability to add cards of similar suit together. This allows players to win the tricks that they need to win.

• The God Cards - each god has unique powers that alter the game somehow. This allows players to have influence on changing the rules a bit in their favour. The use of these cards is really the heart of Gone Viking and learning how to master their abilities is the key to becoming the most successful Raider!

• The Jarl - at the end of every round, a jarl takes half the accumulated wealth of the richest player.  

“This adds a very cool coming in second mechanic and really makes players have to think about when to take tricks and when to give them away,” said Bricker.

“Gone Viking is not about taking as many tricks as possible, it’s about taking tricks strategically. The fact that you have to manage your collection of wealth by using the above mentioned innovations is the probably the most fun element and my favourite aspect of the game.”

I will add, the Jarl rule really changes the game. Most games reward being first. A few give those finishing last a boost. Here you have to hit a balance where second place can be most advantageous.

The game is one Bricker said they hope will continue to allow them to build a games company.

“Gone Viking is the second game we’ve released. Give It to the King! being the first, and we thought since we are a startup that we need to work our way up to some of the larger games we plan to launch later in the year. A card game was a natural stepping stone I think,” he said. “When I played this game for the first time it really stood out as something different, something that added a very unique approach to trick taking that involved a lot more decision making and strategy.”

If you like card games, especially trick-taking card games, with a nice theme that fits game play, Gone Vikings should be one you take a close look at.

Check it out at www.thefluxcapacity.com



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