Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fury of the Norsemen

It's time for another dig into the depth of my game collection. This time I have unearthed Fury of the Norsemen, a small wargame depicting a viking raid into a generic northern European village unfortunately built along the coast. This game was published by Metagaming back in the early '80s, and I have owned it since at latest 1996, if not earlier. However, it had been over 10 years since I had last played the game.

The map depicts a rather small village, along with the surrounding woods. The village contains a monastery on the edge of town, a keep, a church, and a manor where the lord lives. The vikings all attack from boats that land along the shoreline. In the basic game there is just one boat, but there are optional scenarios that give the vikings two boats. The vikings start with ~25 units, which boil into the town and begin stealing livestock, women, and treasure. Yes, the point of the game for the viking player is to go all caveman, bonk women on the head, and drag them off. And horses and cows, as well. The viking player wins if he collects 18 or more points from loot. Treasure, women, and livestock are all worth one point apiece. The church treasure and the various village leaders are all worth three points.

The village player, naturally, wins if he stops this. The village player has the joy of starting with many more units. However, most of these units represent the average villager with a hoe or shovel, and they will die in droves if they don't run away as fast as they can. I always have them die while protecting the women, because that seems like the manly thing to do, but trust me, they will most likely die if they try this. On the other hand, there are a few serious military figures in the town, and if they bunch up well they can hold up the vikings for a while. The game only runs for 12 turns, so the viking player needs to get to the sacking as fast as possible, and thus simply holding up the vikings can actually be good strategy. You don't need to kill them, just keep them occupied.

Now, I have to admit that I find this game rather boring. Once you get the standard strategy down there really isn't much strategy to it. As soon as he can, the village player sends his womenfolk running for the keep while the militia hold off the vikings. The cavalry and soldiers can grab significant strategic points and hold on as long as possible. The vikings must run as hard as they can to grab all the good stuff. This means that the vikings must extend themselves, leaving themselves open to a counter-attack. But, still, they're pretty good.

However, the combat results table is weird and ruins the game for me. Combat can result in either the defenders or attackers running away or dying, or both sides killing each other. Trust me, the two sides will kill each other all the time. This is of great benefit to the village player, as you are usually losing lousy militia while the viking player loses good, solid viking units. And he only has about 25 vikings, and once one of them takes loot back to the ship, they are out of the game. And since you need 18 points, once you lose about five or six vikings, good luck actually getting those 18 points.

So, not a terrible game, but it has noticeable flaws that keep me from really wanting to play it, ever.

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