This past weekend, at the 2015 CMoN Expo, I had the pleasure of being featured in a video with Rodney Smith, Marty Connell, and Eric M. Lang of our play-through of Blood Rage.
Let me tell you a little bit about these guys: everyone knows Rodney Smith, the 2nd nicest Canadian you’ll ever meet, the 1st nicest is Eric Lang, and finally, Marty Connell—he is the sweetest man with a southern accent. They’re all mild-mannered and polite 100% of the time—right up until you start table trash talking them. If you trash talk Rodney, he will “Take you oot!”. If you trash talk Eric, he will “DRINK YOUR TEARS MUAHAHAHA” and if you trash talk Marty, he’ll compliment the engine you had going, because he really is that southern. These guys and I trash talked each other for hours while explaining our game movements, keeping the energy alive and having just the most fun with this game. By the end of it, we were wiped out, although that may have been because it was after midnight, and we’re boring and old. (Please don’t kill me, you three.)
Magic happened, unfortunately the cameras we recorded on were stolen at the event due to the convention next to us being targeted by a band of thieves! Because of this incredible loss, I think it’s especially important to tell you about this game. Eric Lang has done a phenomenal job designing it, and Guillotine Games has given it the presentation it deserves. I couldn’t be more in love—with the game, of course!
Blood Rage is a type of game I like to classify as “Euro-Cash”. It’s a Eurogame with Ameritrash components, including huge, gorgeous miniatures. I see this as brilliant, because I would pay all of the dollars for this game even if it had cheetos for components. I’m telling you right now, this game is absolutely worth the $79.99 msrp.
The game board is divided into several areas; those areas have a fixed number of spaces where warriors can be located. As you can see above, these are simply the number of circles in each region. The squares in each region will be an area to pillage, from which you will gain rewards that will increase your Horns, Axe or Rage track. If another player has figures in an area where you plan to pillage, those figures must fight to the death!
It is important to know that players take one action in clockwise order until no more actions can be taken. Each region may only be pillaged once unless otherwise specified by power up cards. Leaders cost no rage to invade, but you must use an action to invade with them.
The objective of the game is to end the game with more glory points than your opponents. You do so by developing a competitive draft strategy to power up over the course of three ages.
Each player has a three tracks on their board. The first, Rage, is the currency of the game. Rage allows the player to play cards, invade, and march. The second, Axes, is simply the number points you will receive upon winning a battle. The third, Horns, is the maximum number of units you may have on the board at any given time.
On each player's turn, they take one of five actions: Invade, March, Upgrade, Pillage or Quest. Invading costs 1 rage and you place one warrior on the board. Marching costs 1 rage and you are allowed to move your units in to another region. Upgrading allows you to use an upgrade card from your hand and pay its cost in rage. Pillaging allows you to flip a tile on the board which will be Rage, Axes or Horns. Questing allows you to play a quest card from your hand face down to score at the end of the round.
At the end of the game if you have advanced Rage, Axes or Horns to the 4th or 5th place you will gain 10 points. If you have maxed out a track, you will gain 20 points for each maxed out track.
In the first phase of Blood Rage, each player starts with eight cards and drafts six of them. This means each player chooses a single card from their hand and sets it aside to play during the game. Each player then passes the remaining cards to the next player until there are only two cards left to be passed; each player places their last two draft cards in the discard pile.
There are several types of cards that benefit the player in varying ways.
Battle Cards come in two variations. One kind has a strength value and the other has strength value in addition to an ability. Tyr's Smite adds 5 to Battle. Loki's Trickery has a +0 strength modifier however, you steal 1 rage from the winning player. Any player that loses the battle also keeps the card they played that turn. The winner must discard their card.
Quests Cards have end-of-round conditions for points if you meet the conditions, you get the points. These do not cost Rage Points to play and you play them face down. As you can see, they can also be used as a battle card if you play a Clan Upgrade card that allows you to treat your quest card as a +5 in battle. Clan Upgrade cards are diverse and can often times alter your strategy. To put a clan upgrade in to play you must pay the rage cost in the red circle on the card.
Monster Upgrade cards allow you to summon a monster to your team; each monster has a special ability that will help you win battles. They each have a price to pay for in rage.
Ship Upgrade cards allow you to place a monster on the board under your control. They will also have the ability to join battles in adjacent spaces, just like a normal warrior. They also come with super cool miniatures because, again: Beautiful Game.
Warrior Upgrade cards allow you to power up your warrior in addition to deploying a warrior for free. These cards also have a cost associated with them that you must pay for in Rage.
Leader Upgrade cards allow you to buff up your leader by paying the cost associated with them in rage. They will either be given additional strength or a special ability.
The game takes place over 3 Ages. At the beginning of the game, players reveal three regions, and place them on the Ragnarok track. That region blows up at the end of that age, and all characters in that region are sent directly to Valhalla, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the First Age each figure dying in Ragnarok gives that player 2 points, in the Second Age, 3 points and in the Third Age, 4 points.
During each age players take their actions and when they are no actions left to be taken each player then discards down to 1 card. They then resolve all quests just before Ragnarok strikes. After that all figures are released from Valhalla and players may used them again in the next age.
When you choose to pillage a city, if there are any open spots for units and any of your opponents are in a location adjacent to it, they may then choose to "join your pillage. "
When another player chooses to enter the space where one of your units is located, combat begins immediately. The combat in this game is simple math: add together the total strength of your units plus their power ups, plus the battle value from the card each player plays face down upon entering combat.
This adds a pretty neat bluffing feature to the game that can often results in hilarious situations. If two players tie in power, everyone dies and goes to Valhalla in a blaze of glory!
At the end of each round, when each player scores their quests, and all units are released from Valhalla. Clan upgrade cards may have point triggers during any phase in the game, as you can see in the examples above.
Over the course of these three rounds; as the game goes on, the cards you draft become more powerful because, as you’re pillaging, you’re also increasing your Rage, Horns and Axes. The player with the most glory gets bragging rights until next game, which will happen immediately because you'll be hooked on Blood Rage after a single play.
Rage your way to glory in this absolutely stunning game that while not a particularly funny theme, will keep you engaged and laughing the whole way through.
Blood Rage takes fantastic game play and smashes it together with some of the most beautiful miniatures I’ve ever seen in a board game box— I cannot wait for it to be released. This is a game that actually makes it fun to die. It has enough different ways to get points that you’ll almost always have something to do, and your actions will feel meaningful every single time thanks to the drafting mechanic. The first run through can be a bit tricky, but you won’t regret the effort. You can thank me for introducing it to you after you play.
I had a fantastic time destroying everyone and while we didn't get to finish our game, I was solidly in the lead by more than 50 points when we had to call it quits, so I'm counting this as a victory! Marty totally beat me in the game we played prior to this one, but we're keeping that a secret.
So, once again, I can’t recommend Blood Rage enough, and I hope everyone I know picks it up on it's release. Just don’t tell Eric Lang I said anything, we don’t need his ego inflated further. Besides, who plays Eric Lang games anyway?
I also want to give a huge shout out to Spencer Reeve, who helped make this entire weekend possible for all of us. You are the coolest dude anybody knows and your hair is something everyone should be jealous of. Jonathan from CMoN also worked his ass off at the expo and he deserves all the credit and glory in the world for filming everything. We were always late to the set and he put up with our crap. While we have nothing to show for it now, he did an excellent job and his work should still be appreciated and acknowledged. Thank you so much, Cool Mini or Not for inviting us out to the Expo. It was truly magical, I can't wait until next year! I'm so glad I picked up a fresh copy of Arcadia Quest to pass the time, I best get to painting!