All right I'll admit I have a bit of a soft spot for Norse mythology, so when I first learned there was a new game called Odin's Table on the market, I was immediately interested.
Of course it takes more than theme to make a game worth playing.
In the case of Odin's Table released just last year from Mindwarrior Games in Finland, the mechanics were also of interest, with some reservations set too.
The game has strong abstract strategy roots, with game play not unlike checkers. The six pieces aside move only one space, but do so in any of the eight possible directions on the six-by-five-square board. Pieces are captured by simple move and replacement.
The game would be overly simplistic if that was it.
Designer Esa Wilk takes the game in a different direction by adding a deck of specialty cards for each player.
The art on the cards is various Norse Gods, Freya, Odin, Thor and Loki among them. The art is rendered in dark inks and comes across as old and stunning.
A card is placed behind each rank, and it is the cards which determine captures. Each player flips a card and the high one generally wins, there are two exceptions, Loki the trickster being one of them.
So you know your cards, where you are strong, but are guessing at what the opponent has.
It adds some definite luck to the contest, although you 'feel' you still have some control of outcomes.
Once a piece is captured it can return in lieu of another move.
The goal is to get three pieces to the opponent's back row.
The components are good, although the cardboard game pieces would have had a better 'feel' if they were stones marked with runes. The board has a wood-like look, but would have fit the theme better with a board marked out of a piece of leather, which would then tie up to carry the cards and stones.
While the components could match the theme better, the game as presented is certainly serviceable.
The game plays quickly, and is surprisingly enjoyable, with a rather gratifying mix of brain-driven strategy and card-driven look.
Check it out at www.mindwarriorgames.com
-- Review appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper March 9, 2011 - Yorkton, SK. Canada