In the first of what will be a constantly updated series, we look at some of the best Viking-inspired video and board games out there.
Viking-themed video games
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
The latest installment in the widely successful Assassin's Creed series is an action-playing video game set in the Viking Era. Players take the role of Viking Eivor, who leads his clan to settle in the "Danelaw" region of England. Eivor, however, becomes embroiled in the centuries-old battle between the Assassin Brotherhood and the Templar Order in the twelfth installment of this popular series. What sets this apart from other historical-themed games is that this includes a rich storyline that blends Norse mythology and historical elements (Viking battles have never looked so realistic). This is a game for you if you ever wanted to be part of the "Great Heathen Army" that invaded England from 865 CE.
The first game in this Epic Games-produced series based on historical eras (the latest installment features the Roman Empire) is a squad-based tactical role-playing fame, Expeditions: Viking. In it, players can custom-create their own Viking chieftain who leads their clan to explore new lands and, you know, do what Vikings do best: conquer, subjugate, and kill. Yet it is not all war and blood as players can turn their chieftain into either a merchant or diplomat, showing a more nuanced view of people from Viking societies in a video game. With its immersive world, set at the beginning of the Viking era in England in 790 CE, and thrilling tactical gameplay, this is a must for Vikings that like a great tactical game.
Expeditions: Viking is available to purchase on Epic Games homepage here.
Jotun: Valhalla Edition
Unlike most Viking-inspired video games, the main character of Jotun is a female warrior, Thora. Having died an inglorious death in battle, she must seek redemption from the Norse gods. Not only does this game feature glorious hand-drawn artwork, but players can help Thora explore all nine realms of Norse mythology, from Asgard to Hel and everywhere in between. If you love your Norse mythology and cosmology, then you'll love this game.
Jotun: Valhalla Edition is available for purchase on the PS4 website here.
God of War
This installment of the God of War series is loosely based upon Norse, and not Greek, mythology. In this game, you take on the role of former Spartan warrior Kratos, who flees to Midgard and must protect his son, Atreus. Here the game takes a poignant route as players help Kratos and his son travel through the Norse realm to scatter the ashes of Kratos' murdered wife on the peak of the highest mountain. Aside from the stunning graphics and engaging gameplay, the emotionally charged tone of this game sets it aside from other Viking-inspired games.
God of War: Ragnarök
Following on from the runaway success of God of War, Kratos and his son are back for more action-packed adventures in this latest installment of the series. Ragnarök - the cataclysmic end of times in Norse mythology – was foretold in the previous game when Kratos killed the Norse god, Baldur. This game showcases enhanced combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving gameplay. All nine realms, including the realm of the Dwarves, can be visited before the stunning climax of this game.
This open-world survival game sees players take on the role of fallen Viking warriors who must build tools and shelter, craft weapons, and fight enemies in a world full of Norse mythologically inspired ruins and monsters. The blending of survival elements wedded to Norse mythology makes this game stand out for fans of either or both. Add to this a magical and award-winning soundtrack composed by Patrik Jarlestam, which is almost worth the price alone.
Valheim will be released soon, but early access is available to purchase here.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
The blending of Celt, Norse, and Pictish culture in this game is almost as interesting as the fact that this manages to tackle mental health issues whilst dishing up a great dose of Norse mythology. The hero of the game, a Pictish warrior named Senua, must battle all the way to Helheim to rescue the soul of her dead lover. University experts were brought in to help the development of the mental health issues that characters deal with, evident throughout the game, to make them as realistic and accurate as possible. Furthermore, it is nice to see a strong female lead in a Viking video game for once.
Viking-themed board games have been getting more and more popular in recent years. Photo: Olga Makukha / Shutterstock
Viking-themed board games
Raiders of the North Sea
Taking place smack bang in the middle of the Viking Age (c. 750 – 1100 CE), this multiplayer board game revolves around the raiding of settlements. Between 2 – 4 players can take on the role of a Viking warrior who must assemble a crew, stock provision, and organize raids on nearby villages and settlements. This game of strategy, where players must organize their workers to collect resources and complete battles, is enhanced by the rule whereby players must "sacrifice" a warrior every time they complete a raid. A game takes between 60 – 80 minutes and is suitable for ages 12+.
Hnefatafl (National Museums of Scotland Edition)
Though much of this game, in its original form, remains a mystery lost since the last Viking ship sailed, the National Museums of Scotland had faithfully reproduced this popular Viking-era strategy game. Hnefatafl (Old Norse for "board game of the fist/king"), believed to have been inspired by chess, sees two players take on opposing armies in a winner takes all game of strategy. The NMS edition is beautifully presented – possibly inspired by the Lewis Chessmen exhibited in the museum – and includes instructions in English, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish, and Japanese.
Who doesn't love Ragnarök, the mythical events surrounding the death of most of the Norse gods and the submersion of earth with water? Well, if you don't, look away now. Blood Rage is steeped in these events as players take the roles of competing Viking clans for control of a mythical land. The gameplay is divided into three rounds (or ages of which Ragnarök is the last) and has delicate miniatures which only add to the impressive artwork. The game blends American and European-style board themes to produce a perfect balance of strategy, conflict, and statistics.
It won the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres (a top European prize for board games) in 2015.
**Stay tuned for more video and board games to be added to this list as they are released**
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