19th Jan 2023 - Fire & Axe

by RobinFri, 20 Jan (Updated at Thu, 26 Jan)

We moved on from the trading and plunder of the 18th century to the trading and plunder of the Dark Ages this week with Fire And Axe: a Viking Saga. This game has been a regular at the club over the years, but I’ll give it a short write-up in case anyone’s not come across it before.

There are roughly 4 different ways to win, all involving different kinds of set collection. Jon focussed on raiding, and the Bloodied Axe Bonus for the most cities raided; David went for settling, and the accumulators for individual settlements; and Dom, on his first visit to the club, was quickly up to speed claiming the bonus points for far off trades in Greenland and Russia. The Saga of Graham, meanwhile, featured such mythical exploits as trading in Lincoln and Rouen, as he accumulated the most Saga cards to score big at the end of the game and thus establish his place in Norse legend.

With the 4 main strategies taken by the other 4 players, I was left to do a bit of everything. I fought unsuccessfully with Jon for the Bloodied Axe, nicked the odd Saga off Dom and Graham, and distracted David by settling in Norwich, which he spent the rest of the game trying to take off me (who doesn’t want to settle in Norwich?). It felt like I hadn’t really achieved much, but this turned out to be the winning strategy – not what I expected from a set collection game. Despite all the bloodshed, this is really quite a benevolent game with lots of ways to gain points: as David has said, it’s really a race; so I guess I won by grabbing points wherever they were easiest.

Downstairs, by contrast, were a couple of less forgiving games. We had a hot-off-the-press first appearance for Horseless Carriage, the latest Splotter game, which was causing a predictable amount of headaches. And David-E brought the next in his series of punishing raw materials games: first there was wood with Lignum; now they were shipping coal down The Ruhr. Maybe we’ll be seeing Wildcatters next? Also this week I saw return visits for Mosaic and Power Grid.

Later in the evening I was almost expelled for never having played Catan before. But it turns out it’s not a prerequisite, and you don’t have to have played any games before to be welcome at the club. So having come on a seafaring journey from the rum of Merchants & Marauders to the tusks of Fire & Axe, we’ll be going our separate thematic ways next week: David and Jon continue seafaring with Catan, while I go back to alcohol with Vinhos. Tusks and axes were a lot of fun, but my board games themes of choice are the uneasy bedfellows of transport and alcohol :-)