Völuspá is a tile-matching game based on Norse mythology. The summary on Amazon.com says:
In the oldest poem of Norse Mythology, the “Völuspá” tells the story of the endless struggle of powerful gods, dangerous creatures, and forgotten races. Which beings will dominate? In Völuspá the game, the story will unfold differently each time, as a new force rises in dominance! Players take turns playing tiles with twelve different characters and creatures of Norse Mythology, using the power of these tiles to block, capture or intimidate in order to control other tiles and score points. The player who scores the most points by dominating other tiles wins the game. Völuspá…is an easy-to-learn, tile-laying game that features great depth of play for 2 to 5 players.
Völuspá works something like Scrabble, but with matching pictures instead of spelling out words. Characters can earn different numbers of points depending on their face values and row combinations.
Völuspá doesn’t require knowledge of Norse mythology since gameplay consists of picture matching. The rules initially seemed complicated, but we got the hang of it after finishing our first round, so the learning curve isn’t steep. The longer we played, the more strategy and deviousness we required, and this game takes more thought than it initially seemed it would.
I appreciated the development of Völuspá. At first I thought it odd that Odin has no special abilities, but then I realized it’s because he’s the most powerful card and the “abilities” are limitations on how the tiles can be played. Loki negates the powers of the tiles next to him, which seems appropriate for a trickster. Hel negates the powers of any tile she is placed on and must be played facedown. A Jotunn can bump other tiles to the end of the line, and trolls have to be played next to other trolls. A Fenrir tile earns the combined totals of all the Fenrir cards in its row (which means we played Fenrir often, leading to the title for our upcoming metal band, “Gratuitous Fenrir”). I also appreciate that the markers on the score card are moved “as the ox turns” rather than from left to right on every row.
As I played Völuspá, I found myself with the great desire to replace all the pictures on the tiles with pictures from The Avengers or Thor. Since the tiles are laid on a table and not placed on a board, some players may find themselves obsessively adjusting to keep the rows straight (guilty). Side note: when I showed up to play this game, both of my friends were wearing “wes smylt” T-shirts.
Specialty board games tend to be expensive. Völuspá is relatively cheap for a game intended for a narrow audience. The gameplay isn’t as riveting as something like a tabletop RPG, but it will have excellent replay value and is a fun, casual group game.