This review is biased because I know the designer well, so don’t expect any pretense objectivity here.
Blood Rage is a game for 2-4 players where the goal of the game is to see which of you can lead your clan to the greatest amount of glory before Ragnarok comes to an end. It is sweet, viking-flavoured mayhem that plays out in ~90 minutes.
I love the game. My preference these days tends towards episodic role-playing games, but Blood Rage hits a sweet spot for me. It is swift and simple to grasp, but there is a decent depth of strategy here. It draws me back like only a few board games do — putting it in the company of Cosmic Encounter, Smallworld, and Katan.
The parts are awesome, with great art. The best part of the game are the amazing figures, ranging from viking warriors to epic giants and a sea serpent.
The game plays out over three ages. At the beginning of each age the players draft a hand of cards. Cards include monsters that will join your viking band, upgrades to your clan, quests that will reward you with extra victory points if you complete them (simple but strategic varieties) and combat cards that help you win or gain extra stuff from the game’s frequent battles. Drafting well is a key to victory, but is fairly intuitive and ensures that no player turtles on the same winning strategy every game.
The stakes raise from age to age with better cards and new strategies becoming available. Random chance plays a role (roll) in the form of what cards are in play and on the whims of Ragnarok which destroys a random province at the end of each age. Any viking sent to valhalla in that way die extra glorious deaths, earning their clan some nice VP.
Dead vikings and monsters return at the end of each age, ready too serve their leader again.
The game is won by the player with the most victory points. The thing is, there are many, many paths to getting those sweet VP. The sheer number of paths to victory means that players can find almost any activity rewarding if they are canny, even picking fights that you cannot win. The key to mastering the game is deciding which of the paths is going to win it for you based on your cards, opponents, and board position.
All in all, I would say that this is my favourite Eric Lang game , beating out Chaos in the Old World, which is damned impressive.