13 Feb Fun Things About Victory By Robert Bickford
Two tough birds in a formidable sky
A review of Odin’s Ravens
Playing games is an exchange between the designer and players. The designer can give to the players through many means- assigning clever artwork to the concept, taking special interest in figurines or tokens, or making rules streamlined and self-explanatory, for example. In return, the player gives their attention and their effort and maybe even a favorable BGG review.
Odin’s Ravens, a 2 player card game, respects this exchange. You learn to play the game in about 5 minutes. You play for about 20.
To win this game, you race your raven across a set of 16 landscape cards to beat your opponent. You use the cards in your hand to travel forward. If a forest landscape lies directly in front of your raven, you must play a forest card from your hand to move ahead.
Well, that’s almost it. You can also add ‘Loki’ trickster cards to your hand, and play them to jetstream your raven forward or interrupt the other raven’s path. The strategy in playing Loki cards feels pleasantly interventionist, disrupting the course of the universe from above the skies.
The game setup and turn tempo are streamlined like a flight path. This means it is all the more painful when you lose.
Think of checkers. Can you recall the last time you lost at checkers? It is a different kind of loss because it was all there in front of you, everything. You can watch a strategy play out in real time. What possible excuse can you come up with for losing at checkers? There is none. The other player is better. That’s it!
Editor’s note: I have not yet come up with an excuse for losing at Odin’s Ravens. And lose I do. And lose I will.
The landscape card art, the 2 wood cut ravens, the Loki cards and the storyline all fit together. The game’s main mechanic is a few sly strategies that invoke other-worldly trickery. If you win without using the Loki cards, well you are some kind of super raven. Ka-kaw!
This game is so fun we tried playing on those tiny airplane tables on a recent trip. It seemed appropriate- we were in the air. We thought a card had dropped between the carpet and the fuselage. I was down on my knees, phone flashlight blasting, for minutes. The lady in front of us got ticked as I nudged her chair a few times as she was sipping tomato juice. Turns out we had miscounted. Sorry lady!
What’s fun about winning this game is how much superior, above, and all-knowing or simply meddlesome you feel as you coast to the finish. Games are often close. That card you saved or that card you shouldn’t have played make the difference. A grin and a high, ahem, celestial five punctuate the victor’s response.
If you enjoy a quick game and a little strategy, and if Norse mythology and artwork are your cup of ale, Odin’s Ravens might be for you. Go forth, ravens! You now have news and information to bring to the gods.