Valhalla’s Glory!

The card drafting mechanic comes back today in this game by Cool Mini or Not, but isn’t the main theme like in 7 Wonders. As you may pick up from the title of the post, this game is all about Vikings! Blood Rage is a game where you control a clan of vikings in an attempt to gain the most glory among the different clans.


The board itself is visually stunning – the artwork is fantastic. The game also comes with 49 highly detailed plastic miniatures as well. I have over half of them painted in the copy I own – one of these days I’ll get to painting the rest (some are pictured below).

Apart from the aesthetics, the game-play is fantastic as well. This game is played in 3 rounds called ages (similar to 7 Wonders). The rounds begin with a draft of cards among the players, and then moves onto actions. Players perform actions by spending Rage points. Each round, a player gains Rage points equal to their Rage stat, which can be upgraded throughout the game by gaining control over provinces. Actions that can be taken are Invade, March, Upgrade, Quest, and Pillage. Some actions cost a specific amount of rage, while others cost 0 rage. The round continues until all players have used all their rage. At that time, everyone will discard down to 1 card, quests will be checked for completion, and then Ragnarok will occur, and destroy a province.

Each province has a limited number of spots (with the exception of Yggdrasil in the center) for viking or monster figures (recruited through upgrade cards). If a player decides to pillage a province, all vikings in that province will participate in a battle. Battling is resolved simply by counting the strength among the figures there, and the addition of any strength played by cards. Whichever clan has the highest amount of strength wins! If the clan who initiated the pillage wins, they flip over the token in that province and reap the award. If an opposing clan wins, the token remains face down. All losers of the battle are sent to Valhalla. In the event of a tie, all participating figures are sent to Valhalla.


In order to have more figures on the board at a time (rather than the standard 4), you will need to upgrade your Horns stat. The Axe stat determines how much glory you are awarded for winning battles. At the end of each round, Valhalla is released, and players get back any figures that were lost during that age. Any figures still on the board remain there until they are removed.

Here are some pictures of painted figures from my personal copy.

My Thoughts: This game is a favorite of mine, as well as some of the others that I play with. I have to give this one a 9.5/10. It’s outstanding and I always enjoy playing this game. It’s smooth, the rules are easy, there’s ton of player interaction, and it’s just overall a great game. The models and the great art on the board really add to the immersion. It’s simple enough for people to pick up and after 1 play through, they’ll really get the hang of it. With the games taking usually 60 minutes or so, we normally squeeze in two games at a time. stats:

  • Rating: 8.1
  • Playtime: 60 – 90 min
  • Complexity: 2.89/5
  • Mechanisms: Area Control, Card Drafting, Hand Management,
  • Category: Fantasy, Fighting, Miniatures, Mythology
  • MSRP: $56


Meeples of the Stone Age

Hello friends! Today we’re going to take a step away from the civilization building games, and enter the Stone Age. Yes, today’s game review is for Stone Age. Worker Placement is the main mechanic of this game, and it does it very well.


Stone age is a game for 2 – 4 players, although it’s best experienced with 4 players, as there are alternate rules for 2 and 3 player games. Each round, players will take turns placing workers in various locations on the board. In order to gain resources, players can send workers to the clay pit, mountains, river, or forest in hopes of bringing back a plentiful bounty of goods. However, the spaces here are limited, so it’s a first come – first serve basis in these areas. The hunting grounds can be occupied by any number of workers though. You also have spaces in the village that can be occupied in order to increase farming output, make tools for dice manipulation, or increase the amount of workers you have. Be careful though! At the end of each round, you’ll need to provide food for each worker you own.


So why gather materials? Well, you’ll need materials to purchase building tiles and pay for development cards – both which provide points, and points are what you’ll need to win this game. Games are often decided by who has the most development cards. A player could be quite far behind, but at the end of the game when development cards are counted, they can jump ahead and win by a landslide if no one else was focusing on them.

My Thoughts: I would give this game an 8.5/10. I very much enjoy this game, but as I said before – even though it’s 2 -4 players, it’s really best played with four. 3 players does provide a good balance, but there are still restrictions. This is a great game to introduce people to the worker placement mechanic though as it isn’t overly complicated at its core. The art is really nice on the boards and the quality of the components are nice as well. New players to the game are also usually impressed with the leather dice cup, and comment on it. stats:

  • Rating: 7.6
  • Playtime: 60 – 90 min
  • Complexity: 2.50/5
  • Mechanisms: Dice Rolling, Set Collection, Worker Placement
  • Category: Dice, Strategy, Prehistoric
  • MSRP: $50


Develop a Wonder of the World

Today, I bring to you the wonderful card drafting game called 7 Wonders. This game has won a mess of awards, and most of them are plastered around the sides of the box. The premise of the game is quite simple – everyone picks or is randomly assigned a wonder, and then cards are drafted in 3 different rounds in an attempt to finish with the most points.


The game is broken into three different ages. The first age you will be drafting the building blocks of your wonder. Age I consists mainly of resource cards and some military, science, economy and civic cards. You’ll mostly want to focus on setting up your resource pool with brown and gray cards that fill the gaps of the players to your left and right (since you can trade money with them for temporary use of their resources). Any card you draft, you will keep for the entirety of the game, so building up your resource reserves is key here. Some economy cards (yellow) allow you to purchase resources from your neighbors at a discounted cost.

Age II has more resource cards, but this time they are more efficient, providing two of one type of resource. You’ll also find more of the gray resources here as well such as glass, silk, and paper. Science and civic cards will appear more frequently in this age too providing straight up victory points (through civics), or getting your sets started for science points. You better make sure you have access to at least one of each resource by the end of Age II, because…

Age III doesn’t contain any resource cards. This is where you are fine tuning your wonder/civilization and developing guilds which will score you points based on yours and your opponent’s actions throughout the course of the game. During each age, you will also have the ability to construct stages of your wonder for additional bonuses. These stages are entirely optional though, and you can very well win the game without developing any stage of your wonder.

This game plays 2 – 7 players. There is an alternate rule set for a 2 player game, and I have never tried it myself. I would recommend just playing 7 Wonders Duel if it’s only going to be two players. The interesting part of this game is that even though there may be say – 5 or 6 players – you only interact with the players to your immediate right and left. You will never interact with any of the other 2 or 3 players, but everyone’s scores are compared at game end. For example, you will never wage combat against, or be able to buy resources from, the players whom aren’t sitting right next to you.

There have been several expansions that have come out for this game introducing different card types such as leaders and cities. Some of the cards from these expansions do result in interaction across the table though. I’ll cover these expansions in a future blog post, as this is just focused on the base game.

My Thoughts: This is one of my all time favorites. It deserves every award it was presented with. It’s super easy to learn and it comes with a handy reference guide that new players can look at to better understand what specific cards do. It takes the card drafting mechanic and makes your picks have an instant effect, rather than waiting until you have a complete deck or set. Because of that, the state of the game is constantly changing based on which resources you have access to, and which cards you can likely see based on what the other players are drafting.

My personal rating for this game is 9/10. This game comes with me to game night more often than others because it’s always different. No two games are ever the same, even if you play the same wonder board. Also, each board is double sided, which just increases the uniqueness of each game. While it has a decent amount of strategy to it, it’s also simple enough to pick up and understand by the end of the first play-through, and games typically can be played within 30 – 40 minutes. stats:

  • Rating: 7.8
  • Playtime: 30 min
  • Complexity Rating: 2.34/5
  • Mechanisms: Card drafting, Hand Management, Set Collection
  • Category: Card Game, City Building, Civilization
  • MSRP: $50


So You Want to Rule an Empire?

Welcome to the first game review on Carey’s Cardboard Castle! I’m going to kick this off with the most complex game I own. If you want to play this game with 3 other people, you best clear out your schedule for the afternoon and evening. You could say the same if you are planning on playing the virtual version of this game as well, where the common phrase uttered is, “One more turn.” I’m talking about Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game by Fantasy Flight Games. This is an all time favorite of mine, but you need people who are as interested in it as you are, because it can take 2 – 4 hours for a play through.


Keep in mind, I’m reviewing the version that was released in 2010 (pictured above), not the newer version “A New Dawn”.

As you can see by the above picture, this is by no means a small game. This game about empire building through the means of economy, military, culture, and technology is as massive as it sounds. You will need a pretty substantial table area to comfortably play this game with any more than two people. Also, depending on how organized you keep the game, the set-up of this can take almost a half hour by yourself – and that isn’t an exaggeration.

There are a lot of components to this game, but they all make sense, and all work together seamlessly. The design of this game is very well done. However, with the complexity and depth, it is definitely not a game for just anyone. Your entry level board gamer who has only been exposed to basic party games and the park brother classics (and prefers only those levels of complexity), might not be able to get into or enjoy this.


You have flag figures to represent your armies, and then individual cards to represent the units in your army. You have figures to represent settlers, you have cards to represent which type of government your civilization has, and you have a civilization card showing your leader, their ability, and a tracker wheel to track your science points and gold. You’ll also have a technology deck with all the separate techs you can research, you’ll have wonder cards, culture cards, and different building tiles strewn across your empire. Add in a few expansions, and you’ll have even more parts and pieces.

My Thoughts: This game is fantastic. If you have the passion for 4X type strategy games, you will thoroughly enjoy this game. I cannot stress enough though – this is a ‘heavy’ game. There is a lot going on, but it’s structured. However, the amount of what’s going on, what you have to consider during your current turn and future turns, and the overall scale of this can be very overwhelming for some people. I have played it 4 or 5 times now, with anywhere from 2 to 5 players (5 with an expansion – the base game only plays max 4), and I haven’t had a poor experience regarding game play. Apparently the newer version of this, “A New Dawn” plays in half the time at $10 less MSRP. From what I’ve heard it’s still an excellent empire building experience, and it is on my short list of games to play.

My personal rating for this game is 8/10. I would rate it a 9/10 if the complexity was lower and it didn’t seem as intimidating to new players. Perhaps “A New Dawn” fixes those issues. stats:

  • Rating: 7.5
  • Play Time: 120 – 240 minutes
  • Complexity Rating: 3.87 / 5
  • Category: City Building, Civilization, Exploration
  • Mechanisms: Card Drafting, Grid Movement, Hand Management, Modular Board
  • MSRP: $59.99