The above Kickstarter The funded connoisseur game Valda from the Belgian publisher Bannan Games knocked on the doors of its supporters in 2019 and was well received. The game offered an interesting mix of hand management and area influence and particularly scored points with the variety of possible strategies. Over Asmodee The Valda is now also available in German gaming retailers. You can find out how we found Valda in this review.
In a fight against Loki, Thor dropped his hammer Mjolnir on Tyr, the keeper of Yggdrasil, momentarily incapacitating him. Now unguarded, the mortal Vikings saw their chance and climbed the tree of life to become a god themselves. But only he who is worshiped and worthy can become a true god. But caution is advised. Even if the power is within reach, the Vikings will not be able to avoid a fight...
Optimizing your own situation
In Valda (old Norse for "power"), 2 - 5 players take over a Viking from a small tribe who tries to gather as many followers as possible, because this is the only way he can achieve his big goal and become a god. In doing so, he uses the power of the gods and increases his own power (in the form of followers) in the various realms. We strengthen our own power by skillfully using action cards, fighting battles against our opponents, building temples in the different lands of a deity and managing our resources well. Each turn in the fight for power has 5 phases, the resource phase, the action phase, the construction phase, the attack phase and the follower phase. All phases are gradually processed by the active player. After completing the follower phase, it is the turn of the next game. When all players have completed their turn, the next round begins. After the 6th round, the Viking with the most followers wins and becomes a Norse deity.
The different phases of the game are nicely illustrated with the help of symbols on the player board. In the first phase, the resource phase we roll a certain number of dice depending on how many mines or blood drills we have built. At the beginning we start with 2 mines. These produce gold and diamonds while blood drills draw divine blood. We can use the resources in the later construction or trailer phase. More on that later.
In the action phase, we then try to improve our overall situation for the rest of the round. To begin, we draw two cards from one of the two base decks. There is an action deck (A) or a combat deck (B). While the action cards give us additional resources, followers, etc., the combat cards help us defend our Viking or attack our opponents. The two drawn cards must be placed face up in front of all players. This gives everyone a sense of what actions their opponents could use. If you draw cards at other times, these are always taken directly into your hand. After you have decided on two cards from a stack, you have three action points available. These can be used to play an action card, take a resource of your choice, or draw a card from either base deck.
Use resources wisely
In the following construction phase, we use the resources we gained from the two previous phases to build either resource buildings (mines & blood drills) or temples. While resource buildings give us access to more resources in later turns, temples allow us to use various divine abilities. Depending on the realm in which we build the temple, we receive the associated ability. Depending on the god, these give us abilities for a certain phase in our turn. For example, while with Freya we are allowed to draw more cards in the action phase, with Odin or Thor we get more followers in exchange for resources in the last phase. If we build a second temple in the same realm, we increase the ability of the respective god. When building a third temple in the same realm, we control it. From now on, opponents can no longer build temples in the realm.
In addition to the ability, we get a follower when building a temple, we can draw two cards from the corresponding god deck and keep one card from it. The god decks contain slightly stronger versions of the action and combat cards and are themed to their god. Accordingly, taking our two examples from earlier, we get a greater chance of getting more cards with Freya, while Odin and Thor give us more followers. In addition, each god deck has a divine weapon. These are the strongest cards in the game and can change the current situation completely. They may therefore only be used once. Each god's weapon has two actions, one of which we can use at any time, even in opponent's rounds. If we control an empire, we can always decide at the beginning of the action phase to draw a card from the corresponding god deck. This drastically increases our chance of getting the god weapons.
Stable in the next round
In the attack phase that follows, the active player must defend himself against the attacks of his opponents. Starting with the player with the most followers, he can play an attack card if he wants to. The active player must defend against this attack by playing shield cards equal to the attack. If he cannot do this or does not want to ward off the attack, the effect of the attack card is activated. This can lead to losing followers or resources, for example. When this attack is resolved, the next end of the game can play one.
You can then exchange your remaining resources for followers in the follower phase, provided you own a temple in the realm of the respective god. Loki is a special feature. Depending on the number of temples that we have in his kingdom, we can roll the dice for how many followers will join our cause. However, this can also cause us to lose some.
With the trailer phase, the turn ends and it is the turn of the next game end.
Easy to learn, big downtime
Valda does a very good job of making the thought-intensive game a little easier for us. The game is easy to understand and therefore easy to learn thanks to the appropriate symbolism and the perfect division of the respective phases on the player board. The explanation of the game took about 10 minutes on average. After that, the game was clear to all players and you could start a game.
Where we see a big problem is the downtime that can occur in the game. As each player progresses through their phases in sequence, the game can be lengthy, especially when there are people who like to think deeply about their current turn. There is a lot of time here in which we wait for the others, which can sometimes lead to forgetting what you actually wanted to do, because while waiting you focus on other things. The more game ends, the more downtime occurs. Therefore we see the optimal number at 3 at most 4 game ends.
Information about Valda
|Number of players: 2 – 5
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 30 minutes per person
Long-term motivation: medium
Classification: Hand Management, Area Influence
Author: Nathan Vermeulen
Valda is a relaxed connoisseur's game that creates a playing feel that you haven't really experienced before. There is a lot of luck in the game, but this is what makes the games so interesting. Thanks to the action phase, we have the opportunity to take our luck into our own hands and prepare for the rest of the turn. We especially enjoyed this resource management and the consideration of how to make the best use of your luck-determined situation.
We see the biggest shortcoming of the game in the waiting time that can arise during the moves of our opponents. It's easy to get bored here. That's a shame, because it's gone as soon as it's our turn again and we can piece together the perfect move. Unfortunately, as a result, Valda loses a lot of tension and cannot fully develop his potential.
In general, however, Valda is an interesting mix of mechanics that we have not yet experienced in combination and therefore offer a really fun gameplay.
* = affiliate link. If you purchase via one of the links, we receive a portion of the purchase price as a commission. There are no additional costs for you, but you can support our portal by doing so. Last updated on September 7.12.2023, XNUMX / Affiliate links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. Images from Amazon PA API.