‘Click on the linked names below for those particular games....
‘Il Principe’ by Emanuale Ornella
It’s Alive! by Yehuda Berlinger
‘Invasions’ from Asmodee
Derek arrives without Roz. This means that Carol is sufficiently energised to be playing in tonight’s game – ‘Invasions’ (Asmodee’s newly released version of RB’s very own ‘Viking Fury’). It’s a five player and the fifth is our man from March, Mr J. Spiller. He’s down for the week-end and being as tonight is Friday there is already a de-mob happy atmosphere, which only increases when Derek presents a bottle of New Zealand bottled beer to anyone who wants one. Dicken, Spiller and Kendall fall over themselves to be ingratiating. Would a Ragnar refuse a free beer? I don’t think so. Time to go a-Viking.
Well, here it is in all its glory. The only other Ragnar Brothers game to be produced under license – and how good it looks! A massive six-piece map-board, a deck of top-notch playing cards, squeaky rules booklet, giant ‘beer-mat’ longboats and a mass of plastic playing pieces. Individually they’re good, but put them together and they really fire up (hope I’m selling this OK). Terrific art-work throughout; indeed the artist is box-credited before Ragnar Brothers - can’t win them all.
There is one small problem – it’s all in French. The English version is due out soon (Fire and Axe), but meanwhile Kendall’s and Carol’s basic French will be put to the test. As the vast majority of the rules are totally unchanged (even the box-bottom sports a translation of Ragnar prose) there’s a fighting chance. First player is still ‘the player with the longest hair’, but failing that Asmodee have instructed it to be ‘the player nearest the exit’ – or so it is construed.
Carol prepares her longship and sets sail. Lindisfarne is sacked straight away, giving Kendall opportunity to tell Derek how ‘historically accurate’ the game is. Derek hasn’t come across too much of Viking history in New Zealand, so he is happy to nod politely. Kendall’s own turn follows and he trades into Bremen. Dicken heads East, followed by Derek. Spiller hasn’t got too many options left (there being only the three Saga cards available at any time) but he appears to be thinking of working the trade routes down to Constantinople.
There’s a full pot of Salsa on the table, but nothing to go with it. Dicken quickly resolves the issue before anyone has chance to stick in a finger.
Whilst the rules themselves are pretty familiar, the Rune deck does contain some totally new cards. It’s time for the French dictionary to come out. Although it’s quite surprising how much the assembled company can translate, there are quite a few words that don’t appear to have ever been in anyone’s vocabulary (because they are actual Viking terms e.g. Drakkar is a type of Viking ship – ed.)
Carol has continued being successful, Spiller has had the odd disaster. Between the two, lie Dicken, Derek and Kendall. It’s more difficult than ever to assess the overall position, as the score track has been replaced by score tokens. These are rather unusually organised into ‘1’s, ‘3’s and ‘10’s. Perhaps the French know something about numbers that the Brit’s don’t; after all look at their 35-hour week.
Condolences are due to the Dicken household. Rialle the gerbil has died. It had been suffering from an acute case of old age, possibly brought on from living a long time. More remarkable was the fact that it didn’t seem to eat very much at all. ‘More Pringles, vicar?’
Another change to ‘Viking Fury’ is the ‘beer-mat’ boats, which (apart from being big and round and in danger of being used as coasters) have five spaces in the first era as opposed to four. This gives quite a lot more energy to the game throughout and it looks terrific when a boat is tooled up with seven statuesque Vikings on board.
Kendall has quaffed Derek’s beer, his own beer and is now requesting some of Dicken’s beer. Failing for a second time to raid Seville, his language becomes ever more colourful and then he is attacked by a bout of cramp – (dancing round the room like a dervish and colliding with artfully placed obstacles such as the gerbil’s old cage – ed.). This is the truly great thing about playing a game with dice. All the careful planning can come to nothing and a player is forced to profanity - and hilarity. If you want a game with laughter then a game with a strong theme, good decision-making and a dose of organised chaos is a magic combination. Some gamers may not want it; need more be said.
A string of Sagas come and go. Dicken voyages to distant Bajamaland (avoiding the Serpent Rune on the way), Carol’s empire extends in the East, Derek conquers England and Spiller has yet more ill luck. In the end, a win for Carol.
Just time for conversation about anything else under the sun, before Kendall and Derek sail into the night.
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