Recently I was looking for a short but intriguing game, with good replayability value and nice graphics. I searched through BGG extensively, consulting with my wife – the idea was that due to all the pandemic restrictions, we will be playing mainly together. After review of like 30 titles I stumbled on Nidavellir and I was immediately captivated.
Nidavellir, the Dwarf Kingdom, is threatened by the dragon Fafnir. As a venerable Elvaland, you have been appointed by the King. Search through every tavern in the kingdom, hire the most skillful dwarves, recruit the most prestigious heroes, and build the best battalion you can to defeat your mortal enemy!
Each turn in Nidavellir, bid a coin on each tavern. In descending order, choose a character and add this character to your army. Each dwarf class has its own scoring way:
A meticulous recruitment will allow you to attract a powerful hero to your army.
You will also be able to increase the value of your gold coins thanks to the smart “coin-building” system, and get the best of the other Elvalands. There will be always question of short-term gains and long-term investments.
I started familiarization with this title by the series of 2-player games with my wife. We pretty quickly grasped the flow, dependencies and interactions between various types of cards. You really can approach your task – building the best army to fight against Fafnir – in various ways which is a huge plus.
As you can see above, Magda was definitely a better learner. In that game you do not only get the individual points for each class of dwarfs – blacksmiths, hunters, warriors, explorers and miners. You can also get a hero, each time you complete a line of cards with all 5 types. That hear is not only a powerful and VPs-rich addition but can as a result also trigger hiring of another hero! She really perfected that approach 🙂
3-4 player sessions
Last weekend we had a chance – a rare occasion I should say – to play with our friends, Maria and Piotr. You do not get to meet anybody too often these days so we of course used that opportunity for some boardgames. As we were in the middle of Nidavellir fascination, the choice was obvious.
We had a pleasure to play twice, with following scores:
- Magda 338
- Michal 334
- Piotr 334
- Piotr 214
- Magda 213
- Maria 189
- Michal 175
That was a completely different experience than in 2-players version. Much more difficult for players and unforgiving. When you play in duet, you have 3 three cards too choose from each tavern – so in effect, one card will not be used. In 3 and 4 players you have the number of choices equal to the players count so if you are last – sorry, no choice, you take what is left. Also, the heroes are purchased much quicker and their supply wears out much quicker.
Let me share my initial observations after five sessions in different set-ups:
- I am very glad that there is not one, winning strategy in the game; you can achieve the dominance using various approaches or their combination and with each play you can test a new one. That means a really good replayability!
- The components a are very neat and I love the graphics – it is so thematic!
- The game is pretty fast but at the same time requires from you a decent amount of thinking and some planning. It is small and also does not take too much space and can be easily taken when travelling.
- You can play with pretty varied number of players – from 2 to 5. The game is then completely different.
Potential areas to improve / expand:
- More like a wishes than a true issues; first of all, I would love to see more varied Age 2 deck, especially when compared with Age 1
- We have very interesting phase at the end of Age 1: troop evaluation and Distinctions; would be great to have some climax at the end of Age 2 too!
- We are building the strongest army to fight Fafnir yes? So why not add a special, thematic ending of the game – the actual battle with the dragon?
All in all I am very happy with the product we got – it is really well-thought and nicely developed, giving hours of great experience. Just recently an expansion was released (Nidavellir: Thingvellir ) which makes the game even more interesting and replayable. Should you have an opportunity, definitely try it!
You can find more about the game on its Boardgamegeek page.