These board games are worthy of a place in Valhalla.
Vikings aren’t like what the history books make them out to be. Rather than raids and pillaging, they actually cared an awful lot more about eating well and collecting jewelry. That's according to BoardGameGeek’s highest-ranked box under the Viking theme, anyway. That cozy lifestyle might explain why survival video game Valheim is proving so popular right now. Whatever the reason, we’ve seen more Vikings flooding the gaming space recently than England in the 8th Century. Thankfully, with an awful lot less pillaging -- so far, at least. Still, if video games alone aren’t enough to fill your mead cup of Norse joy to the brim, we’ve rounded up a collection of the best Viking board games to share a tankard over when you’re fed up of chopping trees in Valheim.
Viking board games to play when you’re sick of Valheim
When rating the Viking board games below, we’ve made sure to adhere to the strict reviewing principles that board gamers of the Viking era swore by. Namely, each game will be judged on its boats, feasts, and opportunities to bash someone else over the head with an axe. Skål!
A Feast for Odin
Now here’s a game that knows how to throw a party. Or, er, how to prepare for one at least. Designer Uwe Rosenberg’s 2016 worker placement game arrives in a box big enough to match the brawniest of Viking biceps. Fortunately, there’s more than enough going on inside A Feast for Odin to justify that girth.
Players guide rival Viking villages through the ages by growing crops and livestock, expanding their land, pillaging neighbors for goods, and, most important of all, throwing a mighty feast in honor of the Allfather. Grab tiles and cover up negative points on your board to convince all the other Viking villages that you throw the best raves.
Boats: There’s a dedicated shop section for sailing but a disappointing lack of boat minis. 3/5
Feasts: It’s right there in the title people, and the majestic mead horn takes center stage on the cover. 5/5
Axes: A little bit of raiding on the side but organizing the rewards is the focus here. 2/5
Champions of Midgard
Food is great but how about a little more action? If you’re fresh out of the Viking gym and ready to test your axe-throwing arm, designer Ole Steiness’ Champions of Midgard will serve up more than enough trolls, draugr, and generally unpleasant monsters to sate your blade.
In this worker placement game, players defend a harbour from an onslaught of nasties. Vikings are sent out to various parts of the harbor to stock up on supplies, beat back trolls, and embark on monster-hunting voyages. Bosh the most stuff to earn glory and outrank your rivals.
Boats: It’s set in a harbor, which means we’ve got a solid lumberyard of longships to admire. 4/5
Feasts: A meager showing when it comes to mead. 1/5
Axes: The entire table is shamed if a round ever passes without a troll getting walloped. 5/5
It’s the end of the world -- oh no! But don’t worry, that’s actually a good thing. An invasion of trolls and monstrous beasts is just a good opportunity to die in glory and secure your place in Valhalla. What you should be worrying about is making a better show of it than your other Viking mates. Watching the Valkyries carry them off instead of you would be such an embarrassment.
Over three ages, players in Blood Rage will spend stored rage to hop warriors between the realms around the world tree, battle monsters, and nobly pillage towns. It’s a race to gain as much glory as possible before the sky comes crashing down. If it’s the end of the world, you might as well see who can go out on the biggest bender of chaos and carnage.
Boats: Finally, some ship miniatures grace our boards! Each leader also gets a unique vessel for their leader. 5/5
Feasts: We’re not sure we’d like to try eating any of the monsters based on their miniatures? 1/5
Axes: You’ll need to build up a stash of axes to score big, and the only way to take actions is by spending furious rage! Glorious stuff. 10/5
878 Vikings: Invasions of England
We don’t know who designers Beau Beckett, Dave Kimmel, and Jeph Stahl hired to do their counting, but there are definitely fewer than 800 Vikings packed inside this box. With so many minis, however, we can’t really blame them for giving up and slapping any old number in the title.
Part of the Digit: Invasions of Location series, 878 Vikings sees one side plonking down boatloads of bearded Norsemen on England’s shores. The other takes up the banners of the land’s defenders, attempting to retain control over key locations of the map in Risk-style dice combat. Supporting up to four players, 878 Vikings is a great choice for an afternoon of team-based strategizing.
Boats: The Vikings certainly pop up on ships, but their sturdy vessels barely get a nod beyond card-back art. 2/5
Feasts: The only sustenance here is found in crushing your enemies. 1/5
Axes: Each Viking combat roll sees axes aplenty as they carve a path across Britain. 5/5 - unless you’re playing as the English, who don’t have any axes.
Raiders of the North Sea
Pillaging was a chief concern in the Viking age -- a theme which designer Shem Phillips’ Raiders of the North Sea takes quite literally. The chief is concerned, and the only way to impress him is to head out and steal some stuff from the local villages.
Another worker placement game, Raiders of the North Sea sees you building up raiding parties from the local townsfolk. Work to hire a crew, then cross the waters to claim rewards and send your warriors bravely into the hands of Valkyries to score points. By this point you may have overindulged on the theme and be coming close to a Viking vomit. If so, consider checking out recent sequel Raiders of Scythia instead for a Persian-flavored pick-me-up.
Boats: Each player gets their own ship card to start, and several fine vessels are rendered gloriously in the center of the board. 5/5
Feasts: Pilfering produce is all well and good, but when do we get to eat it? 1/5
Axes: Your Vikings all appear in characterfully aggressive art, but we actually never see who they’re fighting against. 3/5
Our brains are feeling a little Thor after all those suggestions, so now it’s your turn on the raiding rostrum. If you know any quality Viking board games then boldly roar their names to us via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Author bio: When he’s not losing himself as a mercenary in Frosthaven, Henry Stenhouse can be found scouring the web for the latest and greatest games, then wondering why he never has time to actually play them. Share your love of deck builders with him at @Fernoface on Twitter or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.