Quick game review: Odin’s Ravens

Quick game reviews aren’t just quick reviews of board or card games. They are also intended to review games that are quick, both to get to grips with and play. Over the last month or so we’ve been playing Odin’s Ravens, written by Thorsten Gimmler and published by Osprey Games.

This is a racing game that pits Odin’s ravens Huginn and Muninn against each other as they travel the world to bring knowledge back to the Allfather.

Because these reviews are intended to look at games for people with limited time, and equally limited desire or capacity to spend pouring over rulesets they need to be:

Quick to learn – understand the game mechanics within a couple of attempts.

Quick to set up – out the box and ready to play by the time you’ve made a cup of tea.

Quick to play – possible to go from deciding to play to back in the box on the shelf in around an hour.

There is also one more vital ingredient – depth. It needs to have something that will get the brain working and make you want to revisit it again and again.

Deep end first…

I really wasn’t sure how this game would work when I got it home. Card based race games are something I haven’t really come across before, so I was surprised at how simple and engaging it is.

The game includes 5 decks of beautifully illustrated cards that really bring the Norse theme to life. To build the race course there is a deck of land cards. These have different types of terrain and the cards are positioned next to each other to create the course. There are a pair of wooden ravens to represent the players. Then each player receives 2 further decks:

Flight cards – these cards can be drawn at the end of each turn and allow you to fly over specific types of terrain.

Loki cards – of course no Viking theme is ever truly complete without paying appropriate homage to the trickster. This is a much smaller deck of cards that allow you to make actions that can either benefit you or disadvantage your opponent. However, in keeping with the spirit of Loki, these cards can prove to be double edged swords in the long term, so need to be played with care.

The game uses card draws and limits on the number of cards you can hold to create depth. This forces you to make decisions around deck building to create the longest flights possible each turn and how you tackle ground you don’t have the right card to fly over.

Note on kids – the box recommends players are aged at least 8. Other than the rules there is no reading in the game, so with some support learning the rules a younger child can pick this up and be no less ruthless than any of the adults playing!

This game absolutely nails what quick games are about for me. Beautifully illustrated decks of cards that leverage the Norse mythology theme to give it a wonderfully rich narrative that doesn’t need to be spelt out. Combine the backdrop with competitive game play and the only thing I’m left wanting is for Odin to get a few extra ravens to bring more people to the table.

The verdict

Quick to learn – 2 reading and 2 play throughs.

Quick to set up – done before the kettle’s boiled.

Quick to play – off the shelf, on the table, play and back again within the hour.

Depth – interesting mechanics that let you explorer different tactics giving you a reason to come back for another try.

Published by Eddie Bar

Fantasy storyteller, reader and wargamer.

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