Valley of the Vikings
Why do Vikings go bowling?
Valley of the Vikings (in German: Tal der Wikinger) is a HABA game for 2-4 players, ages 6-99. Wilfried & Marie Fort designed this winner of the 2019 Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children’s Game of the Year).
We don’t know why Vikings go bowling, but the goal of the game is to collect the most coins. You do this by… pushing other people off the dock? It doesn’t have to make sense. We’ll tell you all about it below.
How to Play
Setup the board (7 puzzle pieces) and place the four colored barrels in the marked starting locations. Shuffle the flags and place one in each spot above the “dock”.
Line up all the Viking player markers next to the dock. Give each player a boat and a single coin.
If there are fewer than four players, you’ll still use all four boats and all four player markers.
The player who “most closely resembles a Viking” goes first.
On Your Turn
On your turn, you’ll set up the bowling ball on the corner of the board closest to you. Then use the Viking bat piece to hit the ball and knock over at least one barrel. (Wait, a bat? This sounds more like cricket than bowling…)
For each barrel you knocked over, you’ll move the corresponding Viking player marker one space along the dock. Vikings skip over any already occupied squares – and the *batter* decides the order in which they move.
After moving the Vikings, reset the barrels (in any spot you choose), and pass the bat to the next player. Maybe you want to reset a certain barrel to make it harder to hit…
Whenever a Viking marker moves past the end of the dock (“falling in the water”), all movement immediately stops, and the turn ends. All the other Vikings (that didn’t fall off) collect treasure.
Viking Flags and Treasure
The treasure a Viking collects is based on the flag over their current location. Some have coins and some picture the four Vikings.
If the flag above a player marker shows coins, the player collects that many coins from the hoard.
If a flag shows the player’s own Viking, they get to steal a coin from each of the other Vikings.
But if the flag shows a different Viking than the player’s, the player gets to steal a coin from the Viking pictured on the flag.
Vikings that don’t have a player collect or steal coins in the same way.
The Viking who fell in the water starts over at the beginning of the dock, and the next player starts their turn.
Ending the Game
When the last coins are taken from the hoard, the game ends (after resolving any “stealing”). The Viking with the most coins is the winner!
Valley of the Vikings is super-cute and fun. Who doesn’t love Vikings, and knocking things down?
Components are cute and very sturdy, as we expect from HABA. The 3D cardboard boats and plastic coins are wonderful, and the holes in the board are just enough to hold the ball in place as you get ready to hit.
The recommended age range of 6-99 is about right. Our youngest was 5 when we started playing this game, and he didn’t quite get the concept of moving the Vikings along the dock strategically. Figuring out the order you want to move Vikings is the most gamer-y part of the game, trying to maximize your own coins and minimize others’.
We like that you can re-set the knocked-over barrels in whatever setup you want. This allows you to push the next player to knock over a certain barrel – or avoid it.
Adults or children with poor impulse control may have some difficulty playing this game with kids, because you spend a lot of the game waiting, as a spectator to other player’s turns. You’re also out of control – other players will move your Viking marker, and you have no influence to where it goes. It’s not a take-that mechanic, but it can be frustrating for kids.
It’s also a bit fiddly for setup, with shuffling the flags and putting them in random slots. But you don’t touch them again once the game has started.
Two out of our three kids enjoyed Valley of the Vikings, but the third kid couldn’t deal with being out of control.
It offers randomness and kinesthetic fun, with some kid-level dexterity and strategy. We rate it 4 Viking boats out of 5.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Valley of the Vikings from HABA Games for this review.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Valley of the Vikings
Age Range: 6-99
Number of Players: 2-4
Playtime: 15-20 minutes