The ships are in the harbor, preparing to set sail. To ensure your clan will have the most successful voyage, you’ll need to make sure you control the ships with the best supplies when they head out into the fjord.
Vikings on Board comes with a bunch of preassembled ship pieces: bows, sterns, and ship body pieces. The game is set up with eight bows, each with three body pieces, moored in the harbor on the game board. Players’ viking pieces are lined up on one side of the action-selection spaces, and each player receives scoring and betting pieces.
One of the key elements of Vikings on Board is the way the action selection impacts turn order. Each action space is associated with a position in the turn order—the more powerful the action a viking takes, the later that viking will act in the next round. Each player will have multiple vikings, and you’ll need to carefully balance the actions you need to take with the knowledge that you won’t want your options too restricted in the next round.
Each of the ship body pieces is associated with one of the factions in varying strengths. When a ship sets sail, you’ll want to have control of that ship. Control is determined by how many of each faction’s shields (on body pieces) are on that ship. Whoever has most control of a ship will have first choice of supply tokens from the ship. If you don’t have any shields on a ship, you won’t get anything.
Several of the actions in the game allow you to manipulate the body pieces on the ships, including moving one body piece to another ship, swapping body pieces, and just moving a body piece that’s already on a ship to the front of that ship (for tiebreakers). Other actions in the game let you add supply tokens to ships, manipulate the worth of the various supplies for end-game scoring, and place bets on which faction you think will control a ship when it does set sail.
Perhaps the most important action in Vikings on Board is Setting Sail. This lets you take one of the game’s seven stern pieces, and at the end of the round, you’ll close out a ship by placing the stern. In this way, you’ll determine which ship sets sail and when—this is a very powerful action, which is why the viking that takes it will be acting much later in the next round (giving other players more opportunity to take the space for themselves).
Once seven of the eight ships have set sail, the game ends. The player with the most points, added up from supply tokens and won bets, is the winner.
Vikings on Board is an easy-to-learn game with some really cool 3-D cardboard ship components. The strategies of the game aren’t complex, and the exciting tension comes from the interaction between players: “Will I still be in control of this when it sets sail—or should I abandon ship and put these goods somewhere else?” You’ll never know if you’ll control a ship when someone sternly locks it in, and depending on how you bet, you might not even want to.