So this was one that I had to absolutely back on account of Studio McVey (miniatures) and Adrian Smith (art). Regardless of the game design or how the fucker played, this was getting my cold, hard cash way up inside it.
Thankfully, after 3 plays, all of which I’ve lost badly, I can say that Blood Rage is a good game, I’m not going to say it’s great until I have near a dozen plays, but it’s good. Certainly it’s on part with Chaos in the Old World, and while that has a solid appeal and hasn’t gotten played enough, the miniatures alone make Blood Rage a clear champion at the moment.
First, the miniatures are shocking to behold and fun to play with. The plastic is tough and a bit bendy (not like say GW’s hard, easily paintable plastics) and I can’t imagine any of them breaking without something crazy happening. It is most excellent to slap down one of the big ass monsters when you play their upgrade (or later, when you fuck people with the Troll or Fire Giant) because the miniatures are so damn meaty. I finally opened all the monsters and with the exception of the wolf man, which is just OK, all of them are really awesome sculpts.
In terms of the clans, I have all but the Rams opened up. I like the Wolves and the Ravens best. Serpents (the female one) are also swell looking. When on the board, it’s all about the silhouettes and that’s where I think the Boars and bears get a bit muddled. Painted though, who knows, they will all look good.
Gameplay. This is the important bit as this could have just ended up as a game that sat on my shelf and looked good instead of something that got busted out frequently (as frequently as a game can with all the competition these days). It’s a very tight game. It feels very short, even though the games are just under 2 hours. You will feel the Agricola pinch as you just can’t get everything done that you wanted to by the end of the game. Battles are fast and decisive (first time you get your huge monster blown off to valhalla the same age you put them on the table is an eye opener and most importantly, can involve everyone in the game. Taking turns is relatively fast, though there is some brain burn that comes in during the 2nd and 3rd ages. In terms of turn-angst potential, I would say the draft part (that happens at the beginning of each age) will take the longest and with five players, it may be a very long drafting stage.
Strategically, I don’t have much to say yet. My first game I just middled around to little effect. The second game I went Loki as in, lose a lot, steal rage, steal honor, get points for your dead stuff and I still lost. The third game I went Frigga/Tyr and just destroyed everyone in nearly all the battles I was in. Yet I still lost! What I think is important is the balance across all things. You need to win battles, you need to complete quests, you need to get your clan stats up to the VP levels (think tech in eclipse) and you need to draft so your opponents can’t bust out with tons of points. Overall it’s a game that begs to be played, a lot.
So the kickstarter came with a ton of stuff. If you are buying this retail let me tell you straight that you won’t need anything except the base game to have tons of fun. All the extra monsters are great, but most games you will only see about 4-7 monsters out of the whole group anyway. The mystics are neat, but not essential. The GODS expansion is one I may be playing without going forward (need to play it more). Basically two of the gods occupy areas on the board and change the way battles are handled. I’ve only had Tyr and Odin on so I can’t comment on it much but it seemed a bit unnecessary. It may grow on me later though. The five player expansion is only good if you consistently have five. For me, based on our gaming group attendance, it was mandatory to have. The sixth clan, the boars, are simply extra, and you cannot play with 6 players with it (balanced at least) however the box comes with some neat minis that replace the counters in the game with the critical one being the token that shows where Ragnarok is going to hit next. This one is probably the least important to get.
All in all, it was one of the best kickstarters I’ve ever backed– I even followed the fucking boats as they made their way through the med into the atlantic and to Georgia…Blood Rage and those kickstarters like it, despite being almost pre orders, just prove that not everything is like Star Citizen or Exalted 3rd edition (ie – FUCKED).