Let me tell you a tale of longships and woe – A #boardgame story from 878: Vikings – Invasions of England (@Academy_Games, 2017)

The ships. I remember the ships.

The first sign of the Invasion was when the longships filled with helmeted warriors sailed up to Winchester. After they came ashore it was barbaric as they pillaged the land. It was not long before most of the south of Wessex, including Exeter and Canterbury were to fall to the invading hordes.

We English tried to fight. We struck back where able. Led by Housecarl and stiffened by the Thegn we fought – and died. Many a Fryd-man suffered but it didn’t turn back the Norsemand tide.

London and Thetford and most of the Kingdom of Guthrie fell. There were few rebellions; most were brutally put down. Even attempts to turn the Vikings warriors from their pagan beliefs failed. Then another wave arrived and Manchester fell. Only English and Danish Merica held.

Desperately seeking a new leader, we raised an army for King Alfred. He fought well, but not well enough. When he fell in battle, it was clear to all that the Treaty of Wedmore was the only answer.


This past Saturday Night Game Night in the RockyMountainHouse saw a return of an old friend and the joining of a newer one. The new friend was Gavin, best buddy of RockyMountainNavy Jr., who joined us for Game Night. The old friend was 878: Vikings – Invasions of England, the very family-friendly, area control, team lite wargame from Academy Games (2017).

Being bestest buds, RMN Jr. and Gavin took the Norseman and Berserkers, respectively. RockyMountainNavy T and myself took the English with T playing Housecarl and myself playing Thegn.

Teaching 878 or any of the Birth of America/Europe series games is easy. The fact that a new player plays on a team makes it even easier with experienced teammates. Gavin had no problem learning the rules and the few questions he had during gameplay mostly related to understanding Event Cards and their unique effects. That, and the fact the Vikings started out with a very aggressive move that cost the English dearly from the beginning didn’t hurt them either.

The aggressive move was to play Card 12 – Viking Ships (Norseman) on the first turn. The card reads:

The Norsemen may play this Event during their Movement Phase to move an Army from one Coastal Shire to any other Shire located on the same sea coast if they have a Unit participating in the move. This sea move costs the Army or Leader one Move, the same as if it had moved into an adjacent Shire. The Army may continue moving if it has any moves remaining.

Norseman Card 12 – Viking Ships

Normally, the first Viking invaders must enter from the North Sea. RMN Jr. landed at Canterbury and then pointed to the fact the shire adjoins both the North Sea and English Channel. After easily defeating the defenders of Canterbury in the first Battle Round, the Viking proceeded to Winchester as their second move using the Viking Ships card. We debated the interpretation of the card but in an attempt not not derail the game out of the gate we ended up allowing it. The result was a very uphill game for the English who lost their best reinforcement cities right out of the gate. This made massing of forces difficult for defense of the realm.

[The next day I searched the BGG forums for any comments and noted a very similar move was played at the 2018 WBC tournament – so it appears legal.]

The Vikings actually played both Treaty of Wedmore cards in Round IV but we had to play through Round V and the arrival of King Alfred before the game end. Going into Round V the Vikings held 12 Shires (three more than necessary for the win). After back-to-back activations of Norseman and Berserkers to start Round V they held 14 Shires. The English used the arrival of King Alfred to take back two shires but it was not enough and he fell in the last battle of the game. With 12 shires held at the Treaty the Vikings won.

This was Gavin’s first “wargame” that he has played (“other than Risk“). He liked it and was curious about the other titles in the Birth of America series. As much as we want to play more wargames with him, RockyMountainNavy Jr. also realizes Gavin is more of a mass-market gamer. That said, he does have experience in some hobby games like Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder, 2004), Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games, 2016) and Here to Slay (Unstable Games, 2020). With that thought in mind, Jr. asked that we consider other games, like maybe starting with the deck-builder Trains (AEG, 2012) for another game night.

Most importantly, we also reaffirmed in the RMN Home that Weekend Games Nights are ESSENTIAL. In the past six weeks we have let Game Night slide in a combination of apathy and depression from the social situations surrounding COVID-19. We all enjoyed Game Night and we realized it is an essential part of our mental happiness. We agreed that we MUST get back to regular play – and we will!


Feature image courtesy ancientpages.com

Quartifact Questing with Qladiators: Expanding on Quarriors! (@wizkidsgames, 2011) #Boardgame #GameNight

THE RockyMountainNavy Boys are absolutely in love with the deck-building dice game Quarriors! (WizKids, 2011). They love it so much they dug into their own pockets and paid for several expansions. The expansions arrived this week so it was inevitable that Quarriors! land on the gaming table for Family Game Night.

There are several major expansions for Quarriors! and looking at BoardGameGeek we sorta “rolled the dice” (heh heh) and picked two:

The publisher’s blurb for Qladiator led us to believe there would be some sort of arena combat mode but, alas, the only new rule introduced is the Lock Die. Interesting in action, but low on theme. Although it would make more thematic sense in Quest of the Qladiator, it is Quartifacts that introduces Quests. To be honest, I spent a bit too much time just unwrapping my brain around the preconceived notions the titles gave me and get past the cognitive disconnect from theme the titles created.

Once the game got to the table all was good. The new rules are seamlessly integrated into the game and easy to pick up. There were a few wrinkles, like a quartifact effect that is dependent upon an expansion we don’t own (yet, obviously).

Youngest RMN Boy is really into the game with all the different dice. Middle RMN Boy, a collector of Magic: The Gathering cards, loves the artwork. Even with the new rules the game played relatively quickly and can still be a weeknight/after dinner game. Deck-building games have only a few places in our game collection with Trains (AEG, 2012) being the only other. I don’t think Quarriors! is going to kickoff a new game buying trend but it’s good to see the RMN Boys get into a game so seriously.


Feature image WizKids via BGG

Railing for #Trains (@alderac, 2012)

Here in the RockyMountainNavy house, deck building games are not a preferred format. However, in the case of Trains (Alderac Entertainment Group – AEG, 2012) we make the exception. Trains stays in the game collection because Youngest RockyMountainNavy Boy still likes trains. So on the basis of theme it stays. After tonight’s game, I too am happy to keep it in the collection as it plays better than I remember.

h2a5y5jrrho2wjxyegtfraOur Saturday Game Night was a classic three-way affair. We used the Northeastern USA maps so we were playing close to home. I took Blue and started off in Toronto. Middle RMN Boy was Yellow and started in the Buffalo while Youngest RMN as Green started all by himself in Washington DC.

The game took a bit longer than the rated time partially because we started off playing slowly. It took a while to build our decks and get our game engines going. Once we became more comfortable with the game it clicked right along. In the end, Youngest RMN Boy won with 61 points. Middle RMN was second and I a further behind third.

Playing Trains satisfies one entry in my new 2019 RockyMountainNavy Origins Challenge. Like my 2019 Wargame Challenge – The Charles S. Roberts Award and my 2019 Golden Geek Challenge, I combed my collection looking for Origins Awards winners and committed to playing each at least once this year. Trains was the 2014 Origins Awards Best Board Game winner. With Trains now played, I have completed 1 of 16 games in my Origins Challenge. 

And it was better than I expected.

Has it been that long?

Need to get back into a rhythm for blogging. Not too many new wargames but many new family games and RPGs.

New purchases include Fantasy Flight Games Imperial Assault, Alderac’s Trains, and Letters to Santa. All need to be reviewed.

For RPGs still need to comment on Traveller 5, Firefly, Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, and Atomic Robo.

Have also been busy with models. Need to do more there too!