The following points apply to thinking about the value & cost of both actions and cards.
- Try to keep the rage costs in mind. It's very common for newer players to run out of rage too soon in 1st age, having to pass the rest of the age. Take into account that someone is likely to steal some rage from you with Loki's Trickery (age I battle card that steals rage from winner).
- Another resource to keep in mind are the cards themselves. In every age, only 6 cards per player enter the game, and every won battle makes you discard one or more cards. If you run out of battle cards too early, it's often easy to beat you in a battle even if you seem to have a lot of power in some province. Pillaging without opposition gives you the pillage reward without having to discard a card, so it's often preferable in the early game.
- One more important resource is time/opportunity. If you find yourself likely to be at a disadvantage in terms of cards and possibly also rage, it might be good to prioritize doing quick, successful pillages over spending turns for invading, clan upgrades and quests. If the age ends quickly and if there won't be many unsuccessful pillages, card advantage and rage don't matter as much.
- Stat increases are generally highly valuable. Increasing rage in ages I and II should be a high priority for all strategies, while the value of the 2 other stats depend a lot on your game plan. Even so, the 10 glory for the two lasts steps in each stat can make a huge difference.
Positioning figures and joining battles
Don't recklessly invade provinces that are likely to get pillaged soon by someone else, unless you have a good plan for it. Same applies for joining battles started by others. When you do get involved in someone's pillage (whether by being there already or joining the province), there are 2 separate cases to consider: you lose or you win:
Winning someone else's pillage battle
Cost: Your played battle card + possibly other losses resulting from opponents' battle cards.
Gain: Glory per your axes stat + possibly other gains from cards. Also sending opponents' units to Valhalla (with some exceptions). (Remember: You do NOT get the pillage reward if you don't start it!)
From this it's easy to see that the payoff per card for winning someone else's pillage is not always very good. Especially in age I it's quite a bad deal generally, since you are likely to get only 3-4 glory and no other benefits, while you lose a card, and possibly rage or a warrior because of opponents' cards. Compare this to the payoff per card that a quest card gives in age I: 7-8 glory and a stat point! Of course sometimes it might be still worth it just to thwart other people's plans, e.g. in a big Yggrasil fight that you 100% know you can win. A high axes stat and other winning bonuses can also help to make this worth it.
Losing in someone else's pillage battle
Cost: Your figure(s) in the province. Also glory for the opponent.
Gain: Nothing, except possibly from your battle card and upgrades. Additionally the winner has to discard their card.
Naturally this is just a very bad deal, unless you gain something from your cards or can negate the losses at least. Cards can make this a good deal, but even then pillaging it yourself would have been better, since then the opponent wouldn't get the reward.
For the types of cards to draft, a good general guideline could be to take 1-2 upgrades, 1-2 different kind of quests, and 1-3 battle cards.
- Upgrades generally cost rage and/or an action, and have limited slots available, so don't overdo taking them. New players often overvalue upgrades and undervalue quests.
- Quests are usually good, since you get both a nice amount of glory and a stat increase. Taking 2 or even 3 copies of the same quest is a very good idea, since the same province / same Valhalla units count for each copy. On the other hand, many different kind of quests are hard to fill at the same time, and overdoing quests can leave you with such a weak board presence that you can't fulfil area control quests.
- It's usually a good idea to take one (or sometimes more) battle card that gives some benefits even when you lose the battle. That could be either in the form of direct benefit to you (e.g. rage, glory or opponent's card) or just losses to opponent (e.g. each player destroys all but one figure). Their strength lies in card advantage: you can reuse them over and over again as long as you always lose when playing them. Keep in mind, however, that opponents might get you to discard the card by playing Heimdall's Watch (a combat card of ages II and III with text "discard all and play new cards") in some combat.
Synergies / Drafting Synergies
- Frigga's Succor (Age I) + Experts in Arms (Age II)/Masters in Arms (Age III): Lets you mitigate the high costs for the warrior upgrades. You will be able to generate 4 strength/6 strength for 2 rage
- Frigga's charme (Age I) + Sea Snake (Age I) and the subsequent ship upgrades from Age II and III: Allows you generate 3 strength in age 2/3 for 1 rage
- Friggas' Domain (Age III) + Troll (Age I) or Fire Giant (Age III): Allows you the repeat the warrior/non-monster kill effect.
- Frigga's Domain (Age III) + ship upgrades: Allows you repeatedly gain glory for killed ships.
- Frigga's Domain (Age III) + ship upgrades + Frigga's sacrifice (Age III): As above, but you are not depending on your enemies to kill your ships.
- Frigga's Protection (Age II) + Quests / Thor's Conquest (Age III): Helps you to keep units on the board/in regions to gain glory from the quests/Thor's conquest.
- Valkyrie (Age II) + Odin's Tide (Age II): Increases your probability for glory reward for contesting highly populated areas/Yggdrasil
- Valkyrie (Age II) + Frigga's Protection (Age II): Lets you keep your Valkyrie on the board to stay in as many battles as possible for glory bonus.
- Lord of Spears (Age III) + Tyr's challenge (Age II): Allows you to go for high stats bonus with a locked-down region. This allows you to neglect battle cards/fights for Yggdrasil.
- Tyr's challenge (Age II) + high value battle cards / Odin's tide (Age II): Allows you to break down a locked-down region/pillaged region.
- Tyrs Smite (Age I) + Heimdalls sight (age I): When drafted together, this makes 100% sure that you will win a fight that you enter with equal (Smite) or higher (Heimdalls sight) strength than your opponents in age I.
- Tyr's Prowess (Age II) + Thor's Primacy (age III): Lets you constantly negate age 3 battle card effects (Odins judgement, Loki's Poison, Heimdalls Watch)
- Tyr's Prowes (Age II) + Heimdalls eye (age II) / Heimdalls gaze (age III): Lets you repeatedly outvalue your opponents battle cards
- Frigga's succor (Age I) + Lokis blessing (age I) or Volur witch (age III): This gives you the ability to increase your board pressence when loosing a battle.
The following cards are by no means bad, but they are more situation than others. They can be more rewarding for experienced players, so you might be careful to draft them while still learning the game.
- Lord of hammers (age I), Lord of axes (age II), Lord of Spears (age III): These upgrades add aditional value to your leader. However, you pay 3 rage for a unit that usually invades for free, which can be punishing if you loose him early.
- Thor's glory (age I): 2 rage in age I is quite costly and you will gain no immediate reward for this. The card gets less risky in higher player counts.
- Tyr's Domain (age I) and Tyr's wrath (age III): This is very situational, since you usually will want to play the quests you drafted for their quest effect. Keep in mind that drafting this + 1 quest basically gives you one battle card for 2 drafted cards.
Strategies that rely on losing battles and/or getting lots of figures into Valhalla are often called "Loki strategies", since many of the best cards for such strategies are attributed to Loki. The main strength of Loki strategies is card advantage, since there is no need to discard cards used in battle if you just lose the battles. The two main disadvantages are speed and difficulty to raise stats.
Tips for using a Loki strategy
- Draft cards with Loki in their name and other cards that give benefit from losing battles or figures. Glorious Death quests (have 4 figures in Valhalla before Ragnarok) are also good pick, multiple if you can. And of course all of the battle cards that give benefits when losing.
- Pillage with the intention of losing the resulting battle. The winning player won't get the pillage reward, but still has to discard their battle card. This becomes a bit less of a good move though if the other player gets a high amount of glory for winning or can buy back their battle card with Tyr's Prowess (2nd age clan upgrade).
- It might sometimes be good to catch opponents by surprise by playing a big battle card and winning a battle.
- As mentioned earlier, your main disadvantage is speed. If other players are pillaging provinces quickly, you might be able to buy some time by completely filling a province without pillaging it. Opponents would then have to try to pillage the province with a lone ship, if they wish to end the age by pillaging.
- If you commit fully to Loki strategy, you can safely ignore raising the axes stat. Horns are not so valuable for you then either, since your figures mostly hang in Valhalla rather than the map.
- Ragnarok can be a good source of glory, especially if you have Odin's Inspiration (age 2 clan uprgade that doubles glory award from dying in Ragnarok) or those Loki clan upgrades that give points for units in Valhalla.
- Ideal way to end the game could be spending your last 3 rage of the whole game for dropping the age 3 Loki upgrade (3 glory for each figure in Valhalla at age end). If you already have 3 clan upgrades, just place it on top of something else.
Some good picks
- Loki's Blessing, age I clan upgrade that lets you invade with warrior for free when losing a battle.
- Frigga's Succor, age I clan upgrade: when you invade with any figure, invade with an extra warrior for free.
- Loki's Trickery, age I combat card: str 0, steal 1 rage from winner.
- Glorious Death quests, all ages.
- Sea Serpent, age I monster that counts as ship.
- Loki's Eminence, age II clan upgrade that gives 2 glory for each figure you release from Valhalla).
- Odin's Inspiration, age II clan upgrade that doubles glory award from dying in Ragnarok. (This is especially nice with Frigga's Succor and Loki's Eminence / Wrath.)
- Heimdall's Watch, age II and III battle card: discard all played battle cards, then everyone plays new cards.
- Odin's Tide, age II battle card: all players destroy all but one of their figures in the province before comparing strength.
- Fire Dragons, age II ship upgrade: gain 8 glory when a ship of yours is destroyed. (This includes Sea Serpent, which is why SS is on this list.)
- Loki's Wrath, age III clan upgrade that gives 3 glory per figure released from Valhalla. (Note that this stacks with age 2 or 1 versions of this card unless you replace them!)
- Frigga's Domain (if you have any ship upgrades), age III clan upgrade that lets you invade from Valhalla.
- Loki's Poison, age III battle card: steal the winner's battle cards to your hand.
- Odin's Judgement, age III battle card: gain 2 glory per figure destroyed in this battle, including yours.
- Eternal Dragons, age III ship upgrade: gain 12 glory when a ship of yours is destroyed.
Tips for beating Loki strategies
- Pillage quickly (and successfully).
- Don't let the Loki player to pillage unsuccessfully. Either pillage the province before they have the time to do so or make them actually win the battle and lose their annoying battle card.
- Pick some of the key cards for Loki strategies yourself. Many of them can be quite useful even if you plan to win most of your pillages and do to some area control stuff.
- When battling against a Loki player, play a combat card that provides additional benefits when winning, like gaining a stat point, rage, glory.
- Use Tyr's Prowess (age II clan upgrade that lets you buy back battle cards you use when you win) to even out the card advantage.
- Play Heimdall's Watch (age II/III battle card: discard all battle cards) or Thor's Primacy (age III battle card: +3, cancel texts of other cards) to get rid of or cancel their annoying combat cards.
- Raise your axes stat high early to milk points from the Loki player's losing battles.
Setting up the next age
The starting player of a new age will have the initiative to use one of their newly drafted cards before everyone else. When getting to the end of an age, following should be kept in mind:
- A starting player in Ygdrassil can immediately go for pillage. Try to have at least some unit that carries over into the next age to contest this.
- Troll: Keep in mind that many warrior's in one single region that is not locked down are a good target for the troll if he died in the previous age/ is not yet in play.
- Fire giant: Keep in mind that ships/leaders are a good target for the fire giant if he died in the previous age / is not yet in play. It might be reasonable to have your leader end the age in Ygdrassil/a locked down region/Valhalla to have some befenit from him in the next age.
- Keep in mind that if a player ends an age with a strength advantage in a contested region, the opponents will be able to burn one of the new cards as they will be able to force a losing battle.
Keep an eye open for which regions will get destroyed during ragnarok to avoid some player locking them down early. A ragnarok region can (depending on how many spots + ships it has) generate up to 21 glory (Age II) / 28 glory (Age III). If combined with Odin's inspiration, this can go to an amount of 56 glory in age III.
following things are worth considering once you have gained a basic understanding of the game and the cards that are in the pool:
- Drafting goes in the same order every age. The next player after you is the one below you in the name list on the right side. This is the one player you have the most influence on which cards he gets in the drafting pool.
- Before initiating a fight, look up which cards of the currents age pool have already been played (bottom left icon).
- Keep in mind that every unpillaged region in which your opponent has less unit strength than you will offer him the opportunity to burn one of your cards by starting a pillage action and then playing a non-battle card to auto loose the fight.
- The Alfheim quests might look riskier as there are only 2 regions (vs 3 regions each in Manheim and Jotunheim). However, only Alfheim has fjords that are also neighbouring to Manheim/Jothunheim. Accordingly, Alfheim quests are easier to combine with other regions if you are planing on putting out your ship/sea snake.
- If you are the only person that is likely to fulfill a quest (for example when the only region of that color it is locked down by you), you have high chances that this card will come back to you during draft on the second round.
- On game start, try to gain a short understanding of the setup before you focus on the draft. Which are the regions that will go down every age in Ragnarok? How are the pillage rewards distributed?
- In age 1, try to stop your opponents from maxing out to 12 rage. The jump from 9 rage to 12 rage (rage stat raised 4 times) is quite drastic, as it makes the fire giant (which can be a risky pick due to his high costs) a viable option for nearly every strategy in age 2.
- Age 1 has the most deterministic battle cards. There is no discard action (heimdalls watch) and no battle cards that can be added after reveal (heimdalls eye/heimdalls gaze).
- The sea serpent looks very expensive (it is often picked by players with Loki's trickery or Friggs Charm who can afford this), but it will give you a more flexible setup for drafting ship upgrades in future ages.
- As a player with Loki's trickery, having a warrior in Yggdrasil before the other players can help you to deny them the pillage. If a player has to 2 rage left, you will effectively be able to stop him from pillage (he needs one rage to march to Yggdrasil and you can then steal the last rage when it is your turn again).
- The troll is the only card in age 1 that removes a Loki's bleesing warrior without replacing it with another, since blessing is triggered only by lost battles.
- Experts in arms is one of the few upgrade cards that can actually make your clan worse, since it also increases your warriors costs. This card is the most effective when you have free-invade upgrades (Loki's blessing or Frigga's succor) or you already have establised a board presence with several warriors. Otherwise filling the board with warriors at two rage is very expensive.
- Odins tide is one of the few battle cards that can backfire. If this is your last card, enemies can force you to clear your own units in an unpillaged region.
- Heimdall's watch offers you the best possibility of hand destruction. If you fight a player with higher strength in a province, you effectively can force him to discard two cards when you follow up with a non-battle card after Heimdall's watch has been played. This can help you to burn opponents quests or upgrades that they kept on their hand to play at the end of the age.
- When you take part in battles, keep in mind that going for a win with 2 strength advantage will give other players the chance to force a draw with heimdall's eye (+2 after other cards have been played).
- Don't underestimate the strength of Loki's trickery when you will be in the situation to loose many battles (When you are competing for the game victory against a player that goes for many pillages, you even can evaluate the "steal 2 glory" as gain 4 glory).
- Tyr's prowess can give you a great advantage for all future battles, but it requires a lot of setup since you will need to have a board setup with several units, a high rage count and at least one strong battle card with one or more heimdall's eyes in hand. If several of these points are not met, picking this card will most likely work as a setup for age 3. Try to carry over one heimdall's eye into age 3 as it will give you the chance to dominate age 3 battles.
- Tyr's challenge (clan upgrade to re-pillage a region) looks like an expensive tool to further increase your clan stats, but you can use it also versatile at the end of an age when other players are running out of cards/rage/units: You can destroy units that have been set up for the next age (alternatively, you can force enemy players to fight each other in a pillaged region when you have one warrior present). Also, you can use this to burn an enemies hand card for 2 rage.