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In the Name of Odin
(prototype review)


Krzysztof Zieba

NSKN Games

No. of Players:
2 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Although I am still quite busy reviewing new games from the SPIEL '15 convention, I agreed at once when I was asked to try the prototype of NSKN GAMES' newest game. The Romanian publisher had convinced me with a lot of interesting games in the last years, and so why not start a Viking tour with In the Name of Odin?

The theme of the game is a well known: the players take the role of ambitious Vikings who want to prove that they are the chosen one to become the new clan leader. And how do they do this? Well, of course a real Viking gathers his men, buys ships and goes on a raid. And whoever is best in this will be the true heir of the old Jarl.

The game uses a general game board that is mainly used to organize all the different cards the players can acquire during the game. Basically, there are four different kind of cards: Hero, Raid, Building and Long Ship cards. Each card type has its own zone on the game board, with spaces for the deck and several offers (face-up cards). Each of the up to five players also gets his own player board. Here we find places for up to five buildings, one ship and one hero. Besides, there is a player help and a space for all the Viking pawns you can acquire during the game. But at the beginning of the game, the player boards are still empty, because you start with nothing but a hand of six Action cards.


Each of the Action cards has two symbols. The top symbol can be used for acquiring new Vikings, and In the Name of Odinfeatures three different kind of Vikings: Warriors (red), Traders (green) and Sailors (blue). In my prototype these Vikings are still common meeples, known for example from Carcasonne. But in the final game, these game pieces will be replaced by Viking miniatures which should look pretty cool. The bottom symbols on the Action cards determine the available actions forwhich a card can be used. There are Recruitment, Craftsmanship and Seamanship symbols. Now, the problem is that each card can only be used once, and so you have to decide which function of the card you want to use.

On the one hand you need the Vikings. Every raid (and of course to go on a raid is the true aim of every Viking) demands a specific combination of Vikings (for example three Traders, one Warrior and two Sailors). Far away destinations also require additional Vikings, but as a compensation they will provide a strong increase of a player's Fame if the raid is successful. So, you can use the Action cards for hiring new Vikings, and the more cards with the same symbol you use in a turn, the more Vikings of the corresponding colour you will get (1 for one card, 3 for two cards and 6 for three cards).

But all the Vikings are of no use for you, if you do not have a boat, or, even better, a long ship like the Vikings used. To acquire a ship you must pay three cards with the Seamanship symbol. Normally a player may only own one of these ships, but with the right buildings, you may also buy a second or even a third ship. So maybe you should look for buildings, too. The available building cards again can be obtained by spending three Action cards, but this time they need to show Craftsmanship symbol. In addition, you also have to spend a Construction token, and these tokens can be purchased too, but their cost increases with the number of buildings you already possess. You could get over this fact if there only were Shipyards, but there are a lot of other useful buildings that produce useful benefits for the one or other game situation. So, for example, a Forge would provide you an additional Craftsmanship symbol every turn, whereas a Runic Circle allows you to hold 7 Action cards in your hand. In addition, buildings as well as long ships can contribute to the player's Fame in the final scoring phase, and so it can be a tactic to acquire buildings and ships with high Fame values, even if their function is weaker than that of an alternative card.


Last but not least there are the Heroes who can be hired by spending cards with Recruitment symbols. Each hero can only be used once, and after that he must be discarded. You can use either the Hero's special ability, or you can send him along on a raid. The benefits of the special abilities are manifold, and so one hero may give you additional symbols you can use in your turn, whereas another hero may let you build a building without a construction token. Some heroes also have a special raid ability that, as the name suggests, can only be used in a raid.

So let us have a closer look on the raids! After a player has declared to take the Raiding action, he must choose one long ship for this raid. Every ship has its own range (two or three zones), and depending on that range the player must choose a destination for the raid. In the second or third sea zone, an additional Viking must be spent in addition to the requirements listed on the chosen Raid card. All the Vikings required for the raid must be expended in the next step, and if the player does not have enough Vikings for this, he is not allowed to choose the raid.

So, the availability of the required number of Vikings is used to determine the general outcome of a raid, but there is also a small element of player interaction since all other players can modify the requirements of the raid chosen by the active player by playing one of their Action cards until the maximum of three cards is reached. If all players have passed and there are not three cards already played to the table, additional cards are revealed form the top of the Action card deck until there are three face-up cards. The active player then may then expend up to three Action cards with the same symbols from his hand to discard as many of these cards as possible. After all this, the final value of the raid is determined, and whereas the general value is measured by the requirements of the Raid card and the distance (if in the second or third sea zone), the outcome is further modified by the number of Action cards still left on the table. So, the player will be penalized if 2 or 3 of these cards are still on the table, whereas he will receive a small bonus if he was able to remove all three of these cards.


At the end of each round, the active player will fill up his hand of Action cards to his individual limit (six card, or - with the corresponding building - seven card). The game ends after the last raid card has been chosen.

Although still a prototype, In the Name of Odin already makes a quite good impression. The game plays pretty fast and there is a lot of going on. Even when it is not your turn, you are quite busy planning your next move, because every turn you end with a new hand of cards. Although it is possible to hold back cards for the next round, this is normally not the best choice. The game is always a run for the best cards just available on the general game board, and so you should always try to make the best of your hand of cards during the current turn.

In comparison to other recent Viking games like Blood Rage, In the Name of Odin is no mean Viking game because there is no direct player interaction. The worst that can happen is that another player snatches away a card or that you will get less fame from a raid than you have expected, because the other players played modifiers which you were unable to discard. There are a few different strategies to explore, and so there should be enough room for good re-playability. My prototype does not have the final graphics and only common meeples, but it already is great to play. For a prototype the graphics are already pretty nice, but from what I heard the final game pieces and graphics should be even better. Quite important for a new game, the rules are well-written and easy to understand.

I expect that the final game will be a good light/mid-weighted Euro Viking game. So, for the moment my total evaluation of the game is still a 7, but perhaps with the final graphics, the final rules and a little bit fine-tuning at the one or other point it could even be raised to an 8.

If you want to see some of the final graphics which will be used in the game, you should check out the Kickstarter project for In the Name of Odin. The project is active until 3rd of March 2016, and there are some nice limited goodies which can be gained by participating in the project.

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Copyright © 2016 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany