There are plenty of worker placement games out there -- but how many combine that with viking warriors battling monstrous creatures?  Champions of Midgard from Grey Fox Games pits 2-4 players against each other in the quest for Glory.

Players start the game with a Viking Leader Board (giving a special ability), three meeples (four in a two-player game), one Coin, one Favor, one wood, one food, one Destiny Card, and one Swordsman (white die).  The player who did the most recent heroic deed gets the First Player Marker, the appropriate cards and dice are placed on the board, then the game begins.

Starting with the first player and going clockwise, each player places a meeple on the board; only one meeple can be at a location, except for the Hunting Grounds.  Each location does something different: providing wood or food; allowing players to trade goods; giving players Swordsman , Axemen (black dice), or Spearmen (red dice); reserving combat with the assorted creatures or a place on a ship; or other activities.  Once all the meeples are placed and rewards have been given, combat begins!
Players can fight the Troll, the two Draugr, or the several Monsters.  (The Monsters require a sea voyage: A ship has to be stocked with warriors (dice) and food, a Journey card is revealed (nothing can happen, or food or dice may be discarded, or the Kraken may be battled!), and then the Monster is fought.)  Each monster has a red attack number, a blue defense number, and sometimes a type of dice they are immune to.  The player rolls their dice committed to the battle, and every hit damages the creature; if the damage equals or exceeds the creature's defense, the creature is killed.  The monster deals damage simultaneously, with every hit making a player discard one die; every shield rolled by the player eliminates one of these hits.  A player can also discard Favors during each combat, with each Favor spent letting a player reroll some or all dice.  Defeating a Troll gives a player Glory and a wood, plus the player can put a Blame token back in the supply and then give a Blame token to another player.  Defeating a Draugr gives a player Glory and coins.  Defeating a Monster gives a player Glory plus a Favor.

After the combat, the turn ends.  If the Troll hasn't been defeated, all players get a Blame token, then any remaining Troll and Draugr are discarded.  Monsters get a coin put on them, making them more valuable as they remain undefeated.  Some cards are discarded, dice are replenished on the board, and the next round begins.  After eight rounds the game ends, and final scoring happens.
At the end of the game, final scoring begins.  Destiny cards give more Glory if the player with the card meets its requirements (most wood, most Monsters with red backgrounds, etc.) or less Glory if tied for the requirement.  Each set of red, yellow, and blue creatures give 5 Glory.  Runes give points, as do purchased Longships and unused Glory tokens.  Every three Coins give one Glory.  And players lose Glory based on how many Blame tokens they have at the end of the game.  When all this is added and subtracted, the player with the most Glory wins!  (If there's a tie in Glory, the player with the most defeated creatures wins.)

Champions of Midgard is an unexpected mix of strategy and combat that works quite well.  There are enough ways to gather dice-warriors that every player can enter into combat, but other resources can be just as valuable to victory.  The Viking Leader Boards all give different benefits, but none is so powerful that it makes the game unbalanced.  And the multiple ways of earning Glory at the game's end makes the winner far less predictable than who's ahead on the scoreboard.  Go for the Glory with Champions of Midgard!

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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