Set Sail with some Vikings on Board

Vikings on Board board game

Who’s ready to pillage and wrestle control from the other Vikings?

A couple months ago we presented our Favorite Family Board Games from A – Z.

Today we’re excited to share more details about our favorite board game starting with the letter “V” – Vikings on Board!

Vikings on Board was showcased at Gen Con 2016 by one of our favorite family game publishers, Blue Orange Games. In fact, they had a super-sized version of Vikings on Board as the centerpiece of their display.

The large Vikings and ships were great attention-getters. And the simple game play generated a lot of interest.

In Vikings on Board, players maneuver for control of the many ships docked in the harbor to score points from supplies once a ship sets sail. It’s an action-selection game where turn-order changes every round and players alter the state of the game with every choice.

If you like a little chaos mixed in with your choices, then Vikings on Board may be just the family board game you’re after.

Vikings on Board board game

The ships are docked and ready to board.


How to play Vikings on Board

Vikings on Board is a very straightforward game to play. There are lots of choices to be made, but the flow is very simple.

In Vikings on Board, players are trying to gain the most points.

Players get points in two ways – by collecting supplies from sailed ships they control and from successfully betting on which player will control a ship when it sails.

The heart of the game is centered on taking actions that alter the ships and supplies along the way.

Vikings on Board board game

Pick your Viking Clan and let’s play!


Set Up

Each player selects a Clan (color) and takes the Vikings, Scoring Circle, and Betting tokens of that Clan. Depending on the number of players, the number of Vikings used will differ. For example, in a 2-player game each player will use all 4 of their Vikings. While in a 4-player game, each player will use just 2 Vikings.

The initial player order is selected randomly (such as taking one of each Viking into hand and letting them fall one at a time onto the table).

The first Viking is placed in the Village on the dark circle next to the “First Player” action. The second is placed on the next dark circle (“Promote” action) and so forth.

Vikings on Board board game

Starting order is randomized. The topmost Viking gets to go first.

The ships are then all docked in the Harbor. To establish each ship, players place the Bow piece at the dock and randomly add 3 ship segment pieces behind it. For the initial set up, the segment pieces in a ship cannot have more than one of each color.

The ship Stern pieces are set to the side of the ship as they’re only added to the end of a ship when it’s ready to Set Sail.

Supply tokens are stacked near the board next to the associated spaces and the market value tokens are each placed on their starting “1” value space.

Then it’s time to begin with the first Viking action.


Playing the Game

At the start of each round, the turn order is determined by the location of the Vikings from the previous round. The topmost Viking (closest to the “First Player” space) will take the first turn and play proceeds down the Village in order.

To take a turn, the player picks up their Viking and moves it to the other side of the Village to any unoccupied action space. Once placed, the player carries out the corresponding action.

Vikings on Board board game

The green Viking went first and chose the Promote action space.

Then the player who controls the next Viking in order takes their turn.

Players continue moving their Vikings in the Village and taking actions until all Vikings are on the same side of the Village.

Then a new round begins, starting with the topmost Viking.

Play continues this way until the 7th ship has Set Sail.



Since the heart of the game centers on the actions, let’s take a look at the actions available in the game. Each space in the Village is a different action, so Vikings won’t be able to take the same action as another Viking during the same round.

The actions, in order from topmost position are:

  1. First Player: There really isn’t an action when moving to this space. It just guarantees this Viking will go first in the next round.
  2. Promote: Move 1 ship segment of your color to the front of its current ship.
  3. Jump Your Ship: Move 1 ship segment of your color to the back of another ship.
  4. Bet: Place one of your Betting tokens facedown on a free circle next to a docked ship in the Harbor. Place it on the color you think will have first control of that ship when it sails. Betting tokens show values of 1, 2, 3, and 4. Choose your bets wisely.
  5. Add 1: Draw the top Supply token of the stack and place it face up in the bow of a ship of your choice.
  6. Marketplace: Increase the value of one type of the supplies. Advance its marker up one space.
  7. Jump Any Ship: Move 1 ship segment of any color from one ship to the back of another ship.
  8. Bet / Move a Bet: You can either place a Bet or move an existing Bet to a new free circle in front of the docked ship of your choice.
  9. Draw 3, Add 1: Draw the top 3 supply tokens from the stack, choose 1 to place face up in the bow of a ship of your choice.
  10. Set Sail: Take a Stern piece from next to the board and set it in front of you. At the end of the round, add it to the back of a ship in the Harbor of your choice and move it into the Fjord. You must choose a ship with at least 1 supply token already on its bow and at least one ship segment when possible.
  11. Swap Ships: Exchange any two ship segments between two different ships.
Vikings on Board board game

This time green chooses to Set Sail with a ship of his choice.


Setting Sail

Once a ship Sets Sail at the end of a round, supplies aboard that ship are divided among the controlling players of that ship.

To determine who controls a ship, count up the number of shields of each color that make up the ship. The Clan with the most shields has “first control” of the ship. The next-most shields has second control and so forth. If there is a tie in number of shields, the color closest to the Harbor side wins the tie.

In order of control, players take turns selecting a supply token from the bow of the ship. They place it facedown on their Clan scoring circle. If there aren’t enough tokens for every player with control on that ship – too bad for you.

If there are more tokens than controlling players, those players continue taking supply tokens from the bow until they’re all gone.

If a ship is comprised of all of one color, that player gets all supply tokens on the ship.

Vikings on Board board game

Green has “first control” of this ship because of his many shield. With only 1 supply token on board, red is out of luck.

If any Bets have been placed in front of the ship that just set sail, players check to see if they match the Clan who has first control of that ship. If a betting token is on the color that has first control of the ship, that player removes their betting token from the space and places it facedown on their scoring circle.

All other betting tokens remain in their place. Those tokens can only be moved to another betting space by the player taking the appropriate action in the Village.

Vikings on Board board game

Too bad for Red and Blue, their bets for this ship came up short and their tokens don’t score.


Game End

Once the 7th ship has Set Sail, the game immediately ends.

Players then total up their points.

Each Supply token is worth its end value in the market.

Each Betting token scores the number printed on it.

The player with the most points wins the game!

Vikings on Board board game

Too many pictures of green so far? Well, he did end with 9 points.


Can the whole family enjoy Vikings on Board?

Vikings on Board is a fun game for families who enjoy lots of player interaction.

Every action taken will alter the state of the ships or supply prices and thus the possible scoring outcomes. So it’s not a game that rewards long-term planning and strategizing.

It’s best enjoyed if taken lightly and with players who don’t fret over which actions to take.

With as many choices as there are in the game, it may be tempting to overthink options trying to make awesome moves. But don’t sweat it because the next player will mess it up anyway.

Vikings on Board board game

Red bets that Blue will have “first control” when this ship sets sail. Is someone else going to mess this up?

As such, you’ll have to be the judge if it’s a game your kids will enjoy.

We can see how some kids might not like having their parents or older siblings mess up their plans.

Imagine they’ve got their eyes set on sailing a ship they currently have control of, but just before they can sail it, you switch pieces of that ship around. How might your kids react?

The constant changing of who has control of the ships is most noticeable in 4-player games. In those games, each player only has 2 Vikings to use for selecting actions. And there are plenty of other players to mess up their plans in between your moves.

In our games with 4-players, there isn’t much dividing of supply tokens when a ship sets sail. That’s because as soon a ship has just one supply token in it, someone takes it out to sea. We found if we wait too long, it’s already gone. Dang Viking pillagers!

If you’re looking for a bit more control of your options, then dive into it as a 2-player game. You’ll have 4 Vikings to work with each round and can actually do a bit more planning and setting yourself up for good scoring opportunities.


Terrific Production

The production quality of Vikings on Board is fantastic!

Blue Orange Games sure did it right with this game.

First of all, we love the Viking miniatures with their helmets and hands on their hips. They’re fun to use for picking action spots in the Village.

We also really like the art style of the shield-like scoring circles and betting tokens.

But most of all we love the awesome ships!

And they even come assembled!

Vikings on Board board game

The ship segments come assembled!

Players don’t need to do anything to get them set up. Just open the box and you’re ready to roll.

The inserts in the box are terrific as well. Everything has its place and they’re all well protected whether you store your games upright or flat on the shelf.

And lastly, the rulebook is also great. It’s easy to follow, has clear examples, and is well organized.

We give a big thumbs up to the thought and effort that went into the production of Vikings on Board.

Vikings on Board board game

The total production is fantastic! And the insert fits everything perfectly.


How does Vikings on Board score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Vikings on Board board gameVikings on Board has received a mixed reaction on our “let’s play again” game meter. Some really enjoy it and some not so much.

It seems like it comes down to how much they feel they have control over the final outcome. If they go into the game thinking about how they can optimize all the actions to take control of ships, place sure bets, and increase the value of their claimed supplies, they’re in for a rude awakening and aren’t interested in playing again.

But for those who love the chaotic nature of messing around with changing ship segments and swapping out control over the ships, they enjoy the game a lot more and will gladly play again and again.

So which side will you land on?

Do you want to jump on board or let Vikings on Board set sail without you?

We’d like to thank Blue Orange Games for a review copy of Vikings on Board.



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