Champions of Midgard Review
Stats at a glance
Last Updated on November 27, 2022
The Vikings and Norse mythology are a theme that’s never going to get old — just look at how popular the new God of War games are.
We’ve seen quite a few Viking games in the board game realm, but Champions of Midgard stands out as one of the best. Gather a crew of brave raiders and embark on quests to slay mythological creatures in a battle to become the Jarl!
Brief Overview of Champions of Midgard
Champions of Midgard is a worker placement, dice-rolling game. The basic loop involves gathering crew, resources, and a ship, then challenging creatures of various strengths in dice-based combat.
The Vikings you bring will die frequently, so keep that in mind if you’re not a fan of losing crew or relying heavily on dice rolls.
The game is engaging but not too challenging, so more casual players and a younger audience can also play it and have fun. It’s designed for 2-4 players (up to 5 with expansions) and the games go on for roughly 90 minutes.
Champions of Midgard has been called “Lords of Waterdeep with a theme” by a lot of people, but I don’t agree with that sentiment. Sure, both games have worker placement, resource requirements, and quests, but only the worker placement is similar enough to be comparable.
A more fitting comparison would be with the Raiders of the North Sea, as the two games are quite similar. Having played all three of the titles, I’ll leave my opinions for the end of the review.
Versions & Expansions
The Dark Mountains
The Dark Mountains tells a tale of the northern mountain and Archer clans fighting against giants. It greatly expands the game with extra content like new enemies, land journeys, and enemy type (Bergisar) and also adds components for the 5th player.
In Champions of Midgard, your Vikings will surely fall in battle, but with the Valhalla expansion, that will also bring glory to your clan, as well as powerful relics, effects, and warriors awarded by the Valkyries.
The Jarl Edition is the big box edition that includes both expansions for the base game, as well as some exclusive content. Make note — if you plan on buying both expansions, Jarl Edition is the better deal, but it does not come with the base game.
Unboxing Champions of Midgard
The game comes with the following pieces:
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Game Board
- 5 Viking Leader Boards
- 8 Market Stall Tiles
- 20 Worker Meeples
- 1 Round Marker
- 1 Starter Player Marker
- 6 Longship Cardboard Cards
- 8 Player Color Markers
- 121 Cards
- 20 Wood Cubes
- 30 Food Cubes
- 34 Viking Warrior Dice
- 60 Coins
- 3 Damage Tokens
- 54 Favor Tokens
- 28 Blame Tokens
Before we get into the contents of the box, I wanted to commend the box art. The striking image of Vikings charging into monsters will certainly catch the eye of anyone browsing for a new board game, and the same art style extended throughout the components.
With the lid out of the way, we get the rulebook and a bunch of punchout cardboard pieces. Next to the standard array of tokens, you’ll see on the templates, the designers also included the oversized leader cards and ship cards, which is a nice touch.
Another cool thing is that the box includes an insert organizer and lots of spare baggies to store cards and punchout tokens. The dice are pretty coo, featuring custom values required to play the game.
What doesn’t impress are the meeples and player markers. Considering the theme the game tries to sell, using brightly colored pieces feels out of place, despite helping to navigate the game board better.
The cards on the other hand feature amazing artwork and have that scratchy texture that keeps them from sliding around. My overall impression of the components is quite positive and I have no major complaints about the durability or design.
How to Play Champions of Midgard
Champions of Midgard is a straightforward worker-placement game with only a few core mechanics. This makes it quite easy to learn, and I’ll do my best to explain how it’s done.
Apart from player-earned pieces, everything is stored on or around the game board. The production and trade spots, decks of cards, and monster encounters are spread around the board clearly.
Each player will receive a unique Viking leader that indicates the maximum warrior capacity and strategic benefits the leader provides. Players will also receive starting resources, 1 swordsman die, and a destiny card (more on those later).
Champions of Midgard is played over a course of 8 rounds. In order of play, players will set their workers on the board to gather resources, power modifiers, and warriors. Once the criteria are met, a player can attack a monster, and should they be victorious, earn a reward.
The Core Concepts
Champions of Midgard follows a simple gameplay loop; There are no engine-building mechanics here, but the strategic use of your warriors and resources does matter.
Throughout the game, you’ll be recruiting a crew to challenge the monsters. Warriors come in three variants: swordsmen, axemen, and spearmen. Each has a specific set of actions laid out on the die (like having a double attack or a shield).
The enemies come in three tiers: Draugr, trolls, and monsters. Having variety in the crew is important, as some enemies have a crew-type restriction. Monsters on the other hand require your crew to embark on a journey, which will require supplies.
To get anything done, you must use your workers. There are a lot of locations you can land on, and most only accept one worker per round. Most of the locations can be grouped into:
- Warrior acquisition
- Resource acquisition
- Resource exchange
- Combat assignment
- Immediate or end-game bonuses
This is the point where you might start to worry about the complexity of the game — but there’s really a reason to. At the start of the round, there’s plenty to choose from, but the number of options decreases with each turn.
Fighting the different monsters is the primary way of earning gold and victory points. Once the regular actions have been taken, those with workers placed in combat locations can assign warriors to the fight.
The combat is resolved through dice rolls and goes on until either the enemy or the crew is dead.
Monsters have an attack and health rating. The goal is to kill the monster as quickly as possible because even if you roll lethal damage on your first roll, the monster will still attack back.
Each point of monster attack value equals one Viking loss. Rolling a shield reduces damage by one, so it’s possible to return from a fight without casualties, although it’s highly unlikely. Favor tokens allow for a die reroll, while Runes can provide a single-use buff.
Killing a monster is guaranteed to grant you glory (VP) as well as coins, wood, or favor, depending on the type of monster slain. However, if the crew is wiped, the player will receive nothing, while the monster’s health resets back to full.
Game End & Scoring
Once the eighth round has ended, so does the game, and players can proceed to the final scoring. Throughout the game, players would advance down the glory tracker by defeating enemies.
Now that the game has ended, everyone reviews the monster cards they’ve slain and looks for complete sets, one card in each of the three colors.
Players start with a destiny card that lists certain conditions. Players may partially or fully satisfy the conditions to earn a certain amount of glory, but only if no other player ties or outperforms them. Fulfilling other players’ destinies grants you no glory, it merely prevents them from getting it.
Runes, private longships, favor, and coins also contribute to the final score. Players lose glory if they have blame tokens — these are provided by trolls that are not killed on time.
Sum up all the scores, and declare the winner of the game! In case of a tie, the player who has killed more monsters is the winner.
Your First Game of Champions of Midgard
Champions of Midgard is not going to be too hard on you the first time you play it, but there’s still some trial and error involved. Attacking a monster does rely on chance, but by bringing more crew members, you’re reducing the odds of losing the battle.
Because you can choose which character dies in battle and are limited to 8 at most, knowing which one to sacrifice will make a difference. If you’re preparing for an oversea raid, it’s better to lose the prohibited unit type in a draugr battle beforehand, and then restock with the right type.
Trolls are often more trouble than worth, but that’s exactly why they’re Trolls. If nobody kills the active troll, it’ll result in blame for everyone. However, if someone kills a troll, they can reduce their blame and cast it onto another player.
Most importantly, get a feeling for the flow of the game and when to grasp for the first player token. In a game with limited actions, continuously being the last or second-to-last to play will put you at an objective disadvantage.
Pros & Cons
- The Difficulty Curve
- Solid Implementation of the Theme
What makes Champions of Midgard one of the most popular board games is the fact that it’s accessible to everyone. From casual players and youth to more experienced gamers, anyone can have some fun with it.
You could sit down at the table and not know anything about it, and as long as one player has an idea of how the rules work, you’ll still manage to wrap up a game in around 2 hours.
Implementing a Viking theme in a meaningful way isn’t particularly difficult, but I’ll always commend a game that can figure out how to be more than just numbers and spreadsheets.
From monster names to board locations, Champions of Midgard tries its best to use as much of the setting as possible. If the worker meeples have a nice coat of paint and a unique shape, then the theme would be near-perfect.
- Dice Based Combat
- Though Competition
The only problem you might have with the game is the dice-based combat. Sometimes, luck just isn’t on your side and it may be enough to keep you from winning the game.
The bigger issue is that Champions of Midgard faces tough competition, with Lords of Waterdeep and Raiders of the North Sea (and adjacent titles) being the most prominent. Champions of Midgard certainly has its merits, but the fact it doesn’t blow away the competition is a bit discouraging.
Champions of Midgard Review (TL;DR)
Champions of Midgard offers an accessible and fun experience for anyone willing to try it out. A worker placement game with a very nice coat of the fantasy Viking theme, it handles balance, entertainment, and competitive side quite well.
Champions of Midgard is a solid game, there’s no denying that. The sessions I played were fun, and while I did “figure out” the game quite quickly, I can see a lot of room to hone my strategy.
However, I’m having a hard time fully recommending this game, not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because the competition is so strong.
Champions of Midgard is often compared to Lords of Waterdeep, one of the most popular worker-placement games. While the two don’t share too many mechanics, LoW is one of the best games in the genre and is hard to overlook.
Raiders of the North Sea is a game that’s very similar to Champions of Midgard both thematically and mechanically. Having played both, I see myself enjoying Raiders a lot more than Champions, even though I’ve played a lot of it up to this point.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, and you can’t go wrong no matter which one you pick.
We hope you enjoyed our Champions of Midgard review! Have you tried this fantasy adventure dice game? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.