Vikings have a special spot in modern Western popular culture. Their image is often far from historical and overly stereotyped, depicting them as almighty mythical warriors with fantasy elements included.
My list of the best Viking board games is no different. There are not many that portray Vikings in a strictly historical fashion, most use fantasy elements and game mechanics that don’t necessarily have a direct connection with Vikings.
That’s not outright bad, of course. It’s how the theme works together with game mechanics, that makes a good board game.
Table of Contents for Best Viking Board Games
|Rank||Image||Title (click & jump-to)||Tags||Price|
|8.||Vikings Gone Wild||deck-building||$$|
|7.||Explorers of the North Sea||tile placement, set-collection||$$$|
|6.||Reavers of Midgaard||action selection||$$$|
|5.||878 Vikings: Invasions of England||historical wargame||$$$|
|4.||Champions of Midgard||fantasy, worker placement||currently unavailable|
|3.||Raiders of the North Sea||raids, worker placement||$$|
|2.||A Feast for Odin||worker placement, heavy||$$$$|
|1.||Blood Rage||area control, battles||$$$|
8. Vikings Gone Wild
Players: 2-4, works best with 2 or 3
Playing time: 45-90 minutes
Setting and objectives
Vikings Gone Wild is set in a fictional world, based on a successful mobile game. The art style is light and fun, almost cartoon-like. Units like Bone Crushers and Pigators and defenses like Chicken Towers and Sheep Cannons will bring a smile to your face.
Players take on the roles of clan leaders fighting against each other, upgrading buildings, or completing missions, trying to outscore the opponents.
The playing area consists of the central board and individual player boards, both filled with different cards: buildings, units, special actions, missions, etc.
In a nutshell: each round you will draw cards to your hand and then use those cards to buy units, defense towers, and buildings from the central board and put them on your board, earning points in the process.
Phases of the game
A round has 5 phases:
- Production phase: gain resources (beer or gold) depending on your breweries and gold mines.
- Drawing phase: each player draws 5 cards plus one for each tavern he has build.
- Player phase: players use their cards to perform actions. Pay gold or beer to buy buildings, defense towers, or units from the central board, upgrade the town hall or complete a mission (if you fulfill the requirements). You can also attack other players or zombies on the central board. Successful battles bring victory points.
- Storage phase: remaining resources must be stored in warehouses (a building type) or they are lost.
- End of a round: any remaining hand cards are discarded and all construction and damage tokens are removed.
Combat and Endgame
For an attack to be successful, your total attack value must be equal or higher compared to the building you’re attacking. But beware: if your opponent still has defensive cards in his hand, he can now play them and ruin your plans, introducing a nice combat mini-game.
Each player can only be attacked once per round, which is marked by a damage token. Likewise, buildings erected are not finished in the same turn as they are bought but get a construction token, which is removed for the next round.
The game is played until someone reaches a certain number of victory points, which is different for different player numbers. There are certain milestones on the victory path, where players can draw stronger cards, called Divine Favors.
- Very easy to learn Viking deck builder with a fun theme and some player interaction.
- The base game offers balanced gameplay, but with limited replay value. There are expansions available to negate this problem.
Who should buy Vikings Gone Wild?
I would recommend Vikings Gone Wild if you’re looking for a light deck-building Viking-themed (with a fun twist) game and also if you’re not afraid to invest in expansions afterwards.
7. Explorers of the North Sea
Playing time: 45-60 minutes
Theme and setting
Vikings were not known only for their brutality and fighting skills, they were also excellent sailors and explorers. Although there’s fighting involved, Explorers of the North Sea is about exploring and exploring the new-found-land.
Placing those hexagonal tiles
Each turn, you will place a hexagonal tile (it has to match the surrounding hexes, of course). Each tile will depict one of the seven livestock types, an enemy ship, or an outpost, that can be raided.
After the placement, you will have 4 action points, which you can spend by loading/unloading your ships with livestock and Vikings, moving ships and Vikings, and constructing outposts.
The idea is that having sets of things gives more points. So, hauling sets livestock together, building more outposts, raiding, and so on. You can focus on one thing, spread yourself around, or do a little bit of everything.
There’s a layer of strategy involved, starting with tile-placement, but overall, Explorers is a light fun game, rather than over-thinky. This also means players know what they’ll do on their turn well in advance, making the gameplay progress smoothly.
The game ends when all 48 tiles have been placed.
- Accessible and tile-placement and pick-up and deliver board game.
- Good-looking and quality components.
- Unveiling/building the map is fun and exciting.
- Perfect for families.
Who should buy Explorers of the North Sea?
Explorers is an excellent game for casual gamers. It looks brilliant on the table, fitting tiles together is very satisfying, and it offers a slightly deeper strategy than, let’s say Carcassonne, another family-friendly tile-placer.
6. Reavers of Midgard
Players: 2-4, best with 4
Playing time: 60-120 minutes, depending on player count
Setting and objectives
As a direct sequel to Champions of Midgard, the Reavers sets you up as a master of your own longship. Recruit Vikings (Reavers) and seek out glory slaying giant sea monsters, draugr, and other mythical beasts. Or do more earthly stuff, like pillaging castles and villages.
Reavers employ an action-selection with a follow mechanics. That means that whenever you (or anyone else) chooses his action, all other players have an option to also complete that action if they have the resources.
There are six possible actions:
- recruiting Reavers,
- trade – gain resources or resource dice,
- battle at sea (by converting resource dice into battle dice),
- raid villages,
- raid keeps or
- subdue territories (making them pay victory points).
Successful raids and battles grant bonuses like spoil cards, prophecy cards, art, tapestries, and various other resources and tokens. Collecting sets of all this loot is what gives you victory points at the end of the game.
The strategy lies in choosing the right actions at the right time (and also choosing them at the wrong time for your opponents), managing your resources, dice, and Reavers, and seizing the opportunities.
The game is fairly simple, but a variety of point-salad scoring options is what makes it (almost unnecessarily) complex and provides interesting and important decisions for players.
- A lot of different scoring options
- Just like its predecessor, the theme is strong and art powerful.
- Action selection requires you to take important decisions every turn.
Who should buy Reavers of Midgaard?
Reavers and Champions share a common theme: a fantasy-infused Viking theme with brilliantly designed boards and excellent art. If you like one, you’ll like the other.
Gameplay-wise, Reavers is quite different. Action selection works great and offers many options. Although I wouldn’t recommend it over Champions if Midgard, I’d recommend it if you want more of the similar (but not the same).
5. 878 Vikings: Invasions of England
Players: 2-4, best with 2 or 4 players
Playing time: 60-120 minutes
Setting and objectives
Our purest historical (finally Vikings without horns!) board game on the list draws from the events in the year 878. Vikings are terrorizing the coasts of England and the locals are trying to fight them off.
878 Vikings is an area control war game, similar to Risk (and even more similar to 1775: Rebellion, a game I featured recently). It’s played in 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 teams. The game ends when one of the sides meets their victory conditions for territories held or sign a Treaty of Wedmore.
Welcome to England
The game is played on a map of England and it starts with Englishmen controlling all the territories. Vikings start on the seas and invade from there.
There are four factions available to play: Norseman Viking, Berserkers, King’s Housecarls, and Thegn noblemen. The game is best experienced as a 2 vs 2 team battle, where each of the players controls one faction and they work together to outsmart opponents.
Viking’s starting disadvantage is negated by their overall battle strength. Battles are decided by dice and the Viking side gets slightly better odds when rolling. Armies are represented by miniatures and accompanied by leader cards, that give special actions to them. Historical event cards also give additional bonuses.
Turn Order and Victory Conditions
Turn order is selected randomly for each round, so you can never fully prepare and unexpected things can happen. The player’s turn itself consists of 5 phases:
- Gaining reinforcements.
- Moving leaders.
- Moving normal units.
- Resolving battles.
- Drawing cards.
Victory conditions add to the asymmetrical nature of the game. Vikings must control 14 territories and the English must force Vikings off their island completely. If the Treaty of Wedmore is signed, the threshold for victory is 9 territories held by the Vikings. If they hold less than that, Englishmen win.
- Asymmetric gameplay is felt all across the game.
- Great team game.
- Historical accuracy.
Who should buy 878 Vikings?
Anyone who enjoyed Risk and is looking for something more will find an intriguing game in 878 Vikings. If you are interested in the history of the English isles or Vikings, you will enjoy defending (or raiding) even more.
4. Champions of Midgard
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
Setting and objectives
With our next game, we’re sailing into mythical waters. Champions of Midgard is all about slaying monsters. At its essence, it is a worker placement game with a very strong theme.
As a typical eurogame, there are several ways to gain victory points.
If you played a game like Stone Age or Lords of Waterdeep, you’ll be right at home. A central board has locations like Blacksmith, Hafter, Hunting Grounds, Sage’s House, Shipwright, Market, Runesmith, Smokehouse, Swordsmith, etc.
Assigning workers here will give you money, resources, warriors or you pay something to get something else back. You know the drill.
Where it stands out, is that you can also assign your workers to fight Trolls or Draug. Combat is resolved by dice: there are three types of units (swordsmen, axemen, and spearmen) each with their own dice. You decide how many to take into battle.
Further negating the influence of luck are special tokens that allow you to re-roll dice in exchange for victory points and a hit point system, which ensures fights are not dependent on just one roll. The combat system is clever, tactical, and has a luck element to spice it up.
Beasts and stronger beasts
Besides regular beasts, there are also stronger ones. These give more victory points, but also require more preparation. You must buy a longship and load it up with warriors and food. After that, there is a random encounter (you may lose some resources, you have to fight another enemy first or, if you’re lucky, you sail to your destination safely), and only after that, you fight the monster.
Champion of Midgard is played over eight rounds. In the end, points are added up.
The gameplay is sleek and fast. After the workers are placed, players can resolve their battles simultaneously, further speeding things up. Simple rules and adventurous theme make this very accessible to casual players – hence the game’s huge popularity.
- Intuitive, easy-to-learn game mechanics.
- Strong theme with beautiful artwork and a sense of adventure.
Who should buy Champions of Midgard?
If you like a worker placement game that feels it’s been built around the theme, Champions of Midgard is well worth checking out. It’s one of the more successful Viking franchises, so there are expansions available if you want to get into it.
3. Raiders of the North Sea
Playing time: 60-80 minutes
Setting and objectives
In a sense similar to our previous game, but still different enough that it deserves its place under the Viking Sun. In Raiders of the North Sea, you will place workers to assemble your crew and provide them with provisions, so that they can go on raids up north and deliver the goods back to the village for (you guessed it) victory points.
The theme is slightly more serious than in Champions of Midgard – you won’t fight mythical creatures. Instead, you’ll be raiding harbors, outposts, monasteries, and fortresses.
Prepare for a raid
A worker placement game, this one comes with a twist. You only get one worker to place on your turn (and remove another). But there are three different colors of workers – certain locations demand a specific color or give different yields for different colors. You start with a black worker. Grey and white workers can enter the game with raids.
On a turn, you will first decide to either Work or Raid.
Working, you will place your worker in a village, performing his action immediately. Then you pick another worker already placed in the village and remove it, also performing its action. This innovative double-action mechanic, combined with different worker types is what makes this game stand out and gives tactical choices to players.
Buildings in the village provide you with supplies you will need for raids later on:
- Draw crew cards at the Gatehouse and hire them in the Barracks or discard them at Town Hall (harvesting their Play bonus).
- At the Longhouse you can offer your goods to the Chieftain (for victory points) or exchange your livestock for provisions.
- You can gain silver or gold at the Treasury for discarding cards or you can gain silver directly at the Silversmith.
- Mill gives provisions and the Armory helps you increase the armor of your crew.
When you have your crew lined-up and enough provisions, you can choose to go on a raid. Now you only take one action, but you still take one worker back from a raid location. These are randomly filled before the game with loot (gold, silver, livestock), but can also contain Valkyrie tokens, which injure your crew members.
All raid locations are theoretically available from the start, but some are harder to conquer. To do that, you must fulfill the site’s provision demand and your crew’s total strength must be high enough. Strength is a combined value of crew, your armor value, and a random factor, determined by dice. If successful, you get loot from that location plus victory points. You must discard a crew member for every Valkyrie token in a raid location.
The game ends if there is only one raid location left, there are no more offerings available in the village, or all the Valkyrie tokens are removed from the board. Basically, you’ll be playing until you raid all the loot available.
With limited actions available each turn, all your workers count and you must decide carefully how to combine their actions in the village. Of course, other players will try to do the same and with limited worker spaces available, you’ve got to be flexible.
This also means that the game flows smoothly. Even though you don’t know what you’ll be able to do until it’s your turn (should someone block your spot), there are always other options and decisions don’t take long to make.
- Innovative, but easy to learn worker placement mechanics.
- Colorful (green) artwork.
- Lots of engaging choices.
Who should buy Raiders of the North Sea?
Compared to Champions of Midgard, Raiders of the North Sea offers slightly different game mechanics with more tactical options and features a more realistic theme – a green north compared to mythical monsters.
You decide for yourself which one you like best. Both are good games and you won’t go wrong with either.
2. A Feast for Odin
Players: 1-4, plays well with any number, even solo.
Playing time: 30-120 minutes, depending on player count and game length (short and long variants are available).
Setting and objectives
If you find the games above too simple, there is only one game left for you. A Feast for Odin is the ultimate Viking worker-placement game.
You control a tribe that farms, hunts, explores, and raids and your goal is to salvage as much loot and cover your home board with it, earning victory points.
How is it played?
The game has a lot of options and inter-connected moving parts. To help players comprehend everything, the game is divided into 6 or 7 rounds (short or long game) and each round is further divided into phases.
- taking a new Viking worker from the banquet table,
- harvest food,
- explore other boards (Shetlands, Faroes, Iceland, Greenland),
- draw weapon cards you need for hunting or pillaging,
- place workers and carry out actions,
- determine a new starting player
- calculate income,
- breed animals,
- feast (placing food on the banquet table and earning victory points),
- claim bonuses (if you have any on your home board),
- add new mountain strips for basic resources and
- remove Vikings and prepare for the next round.
You can place loot items on your home board at any time. The same goes for playing special action cards, buying ships, and equipping them for whaling or pillaging.
Almost infinite worker-placement possibilities
You can place workers into 61 different slots, but they are sensibly categorized:
- building houses and ships,
- managing livestock,
- producing resources,
- sailing, occupying new lands.
Many of them do similar things, only at different costs or efficiencies. That means there is always something to do and you will have a lot of options on your turn. More advanced actions require certain prerequisites. For example, you’ve got to have a ship ready and equipped if you want to go pillaging.
With a bit of Tetris
Performing actions will lead to you getting loot. These are simply different shaped tiles, that you have to place on your home board and cover the negative points on it. It’s a little puzzle game on its own (similar to Patchwork) and a very smooth game mechanic that is seamlessly implemented.
If your board is not big enough for all your goods – that’s where additional boards (Shetlands, Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland) come into play. You can colonize them as well.
At the end of the last round, points are added together and the winner is declared.
- A large number of mechanics, concepts, and details blended into a masterpiece strategy game.
- Relatively easy to get into and understand.
- Offers a lot of options and different paths.
Who should buy A Feast for Odin?
A Feast for Odin is one of the best strategy board games available and is definitely the most complex Viking board game available. It’s also (arguably) Uwe Rosenberg’s greatest game and a must-have for any serious strategy board gamer.
1. Blood Rage
Players: 2-4, best played with 3 or 4 players.
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
Setting and objectives
The end of the world (Ragnarok) is here and Viking clans have one last chance to secure their place in Valhalla. You can achieve glory by pillaging villages, battling with your opponents, accomplishing quests, improving your clan, or just by dying gloriously.
You will collect glory through three ages. After that, the world ends and scores are summarized.
How is it played?
Blood Rage uses known mechanics like card drafting, deck building, controlling areas, upgrading your engine, and fighting with miniatures and blends them into a fresh mixture.
Players start with their clan sheets, that show their current stats: rage (action points), axes (glory from battles), and horns (unit limit). Also, there are slots to upgrade your leader, your warriors, ships, and monsters. There are four clans in the base game, each with a slightly different flavor.
You perform upgrades, special actions, and unit deployment by drafting cards. Players pass drawn cards back and forth, selecting a card to draft and passing it on, until each player has six cards. That allows for some tactical maneuvers like stealing cards you know your opponent wants or deducting what others have drafted. As there is only one draft per age, it is crucial to get it right.
There are three types of cards: battle cards, upgrade cards, and quest cards.
The ages and phases
The game is played in three ages and each age has six phases:
- God’s gifts – we already mentioned card-drafting.
- Action. You can now perform actions on your cards (usually by paying rage – the game’s only resource): placing figures on the map, moving them between provinces, upgrading your clan abilities, placing a quest card on your sheet, or declaring to pillage a province.
- Unused cards must be discarded (down to a number specified by age).
- Quest cards are checked if they are completed.
- Another province (it is known in advance which one) is destroyed, with everything and everyone on it.
- Units that have died during the age are released from Valhalla back to players’ inventories.
Your rage, axes, and horns stats can be increased by successfully pillaging provinces with icon showing which stat it will improve. When you declare to pillage, everyone else has the option to come and try to save the province. When players decide which units they will move (this move is free) to defend, they also place a face-down card to enhance their battle ability.
Battle values (together with hidden cards) are then calculated and the winner of the battle is declared. Defeated units are sent to Valhalla. Only the pillaging player can receive the benefits of the province and only if he won the fight. The combat system reminds me a lot of Scythe – it has a fixed strength component along with a hidden component without a random factor.
Choices, tactics, and fun factor
That creates some interesting scenarios where you have to go defend a province, just to deny another player some horns. If you lose, you still get the glory for dying, but then you have to spend rage to put the units back on the map. You have to weigh carefully which battles to fight and win, which to fight and lose and which one to stay clear.
Provinces have a limited number of slots for units – so you roughly know how much strength you need to be able to pillage. Except for the central province, Yggdrasil, which has no limits. In return, it offers higher bonuses. Allowing your opponent to pillage Yggdrasil usually doesn’t end well.
But building up your might to pillage may not be the only path to victory. With a certain combination of Loki cards, you can gain more points by losing battles. Be careful if a player appears to be throwing their units into the grinder!
As clans pillage and fight, another province is destroyed and after the third age, the world slowly comes to the end – and so does the game. Glory is summed up (together with any possible bonuses) and the winner is declared.
- Great looking theme with beautiful miniatures.
- Good mix of different game mechanics.
- Action-packed with plenty of tactical options.
Who should buy Blood Rage?
Blood Rage is unlike anything else on this list. Its great combination of different mechanics makes a bloody good experience. It bridges a gap from traditional eurogames to themed wargames, creating a very tasteful mix. Blood Rage will blow you away.