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Watch the Last Kingdom and go raid like a Viking

The compliments we hear most often about Raids have to do with the components, which are truly a beautiful sight to behold right out of the box. Numerous emails have been written to us exclaiming that “even the storage tray is well thought out,” and I remember the first time I touched Raids because I squealed with delight over tiny Viking meeples carrying axes, the beautiful colors of the longships, and the heft that the metal coins had in my hand. Those metal coins made me really feel like a viking pillager on a mission to collect loot!

Raids has been out just over a year now, and here at IELLO we still love it. We love it for its approachability that makes it accessible to any level of gamer, while it still has the strategic depth to satisfy those of us who want meaty decisions to make. We love it for its beauty on the table, and for its beauty in the box. We still just love Raids, so we wanted to take some time to share what other people have said, just in case you’ve missed this amazing little title!

Raids - A Critique
Originally published by Arthelius

Over the last few years, Vikings have become badasses. They have overcome past depictions as big barbarians, and the invaders of our beloved France, and instead, have become heroes. Now those heroes, and their desires for conquest and battle, invade our board game box. Raids tells their story...sort of.

Can we tempt you to raid?

Raids takes place over four rounds (called Voyages in the game), during which players collect loot, recruit more Vikings, and kill monsters, all in order to be the player who accumulates the most victory points. To get started each player selects a longship, and takes its appropriately colored board. Then we place the Voyage Tiles for round one onto the board.

Turn order in Raids is determined differently than many games, as the player who has the most spaces left in their voyage will always take the next turn. During a turn a player takes the Voyage tile in the space they are currently occupying, then discards all voyage tiles between them and the next player in front of them (you must move at least that far, which means you cannot take multiple turns in a row). Then you may choose to stay in the space where another longship resides, immediately triggering combat between two Viking crews, or you may choose to continue on ahead of them to another Voyage tile. If you choose war you’ll discard one Viking from your longship, and the defender will choose to either flee to a new voyage space, or retaliate, discarding two Vikings of their own, and then you may choose to retaliate or flee (discarding three Vikings, this number goes up each time the decision needs to be made again during the same combat).

If you choose a peaceful path, your turn will end with you on a space from which you will claim a Voyage Tile next turn, unless someone else chooses to start a war with you over that tile!

A Voyage continues until all players longships have traversed the board and returned to harbor. When that occurs players will score victory points based on the conditions set in the harbor, and how closely they met the victory point conditions of those harbor cards. One victory points have been tallied we’ll fill the board with new Voyage tiles, and do it again. After four Voyages, the game ends.

In a two-player game there is a slight change in the rules, with the addition of a Ghost Longship that moves between Villages and maintains the pace of play.

Valhalla is white
The mythological home of the Norse Gods and the Raids box share this color, which continues through the internal sorting components. The Voyage Tiles are thick, the Viking meeples very nice, the metal coins bring a nice aesthetic, and the longships are easy to handle as you move them about the board. Graphically it’s pretty, and sticks well to its theme, which providing enough bright colors to not come off as austere. The rulebook is also well written and superbly formatted. I was blown away by the quality of this game, excellent work!

Four rounds and done
Vikings have been a popular theme for gaming in recent years, but have most frequently been found in heavier weight titles. Here though, we have what is clearly a family game. To win at Raids you have to be opportunistic, and able to plan several turns in advance, while also predicting the moves of your opponents, because they won’t be giving you gifts and will be working to disrupt your plan of conquest. The choices to be made in Raids insures that you’ll always have something to do on your turn, even if you won’t always like the choices to be made. The management of your longship doesn’t come easily, with a limited number of spaces in which to gather all the things you need. If you carry too much cargo you could fall prey to other players, or monsters, who see a longship without Vikings as easy prey. Raids encourages players to adapt and develop new plans, as the position of tiles changes from game to game. To win at Raids, you’ll need to be unscrupulous and spurious!

A family game for two to four players, I recommend Raids for three and four players. The Ghost Longship acting as the third player in a two-player game makes for a less rich, and less exciting, gaming experience, even if the core mechanics remain nice. I believe that Raids is easily playable for anyone ten years of age or older. The box purports that the game takes approximately forty minutes to play, but this seems to be about the very longest a game can take, depending on the movement strategy of players some Voyages can go very rapidly, and the play time can shorten considerably as a result of that.

With the random placement of the Voyage Tiles in each of the four Voyages, and choices presented to each player on each turn, I believe that you will get a lot of playtime out of Raids. Even if you quickly determine that you have strategic priorities based on certain Voyage tiles that you want to claim in every game, the game will change each time based on the location of that Voyage tile and the behaviors of the other players. Raids does a good job of remaining on theme, and easily immerses players.

Crazy Raids!
Raids is a very good game that should be easily playable and fun for the entire family, featuring rich and modern game play that you won’t mistake for the tiny plastic horses of your childhood. Raids offers up some tension and suspense in its game play, with numerous ways to score victory points that provide multiple paths to victory. You’ll need to be opportunistic, striking at the right time, and making good choices, to win a game of Raids. This is a good game, with an immersing theme that plays pretty quickly, and for that reason I believe it will find a place among the classics of this genre.
Localization by John Stephens

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