When Ragnarok comes, and Asgard burns away, there shall only be glory and war left behind.
Whenever we play Blood Rage there is always one monster that goes unpicked. No matter what it is we decide to do, the Sea Serpent, for some reason, remains on the side of the board, surrounded by sorrow and disappointment. In fact, it comes out so rarely that I can’t even remember the last time the Sea Serpent made it to the board. Wow. That’s a long time.
Still, like with all the monsters in Blood Rage, the Sea Serpent has his (or her…its) own abilities that make it an asset to the game if applied correctly. Unlike with the strategies surrounding The Elf and the Dwarf and The Troll Wrecking Ball (links to those strategies there) the Sea Serpent can be used in both offensive and defensive capabilities, helping create a strong foundation for the Pillage action whilst putting enemies off trying to take certain villages. The Unstoppable Sea Serpent strategy revolves around using the Sea Serpent as both a defensive and offensive strategy.
So, with that in mind, I have taken to the drawing board (okay, so it’s more like a drawing napkin) to try and work out the best Sea Serpent strategy. What should you do if you have the opportunity to draw the Sea Serpent? Let’s try and answer that question to determine what the best way to use the Serpent is.
Blood Rage Strategy: The Unstoppable Sea Serpent
The text for the Sea Serpent is: “This monster counts as a ship”.
Off the bat, the Sea Serpent does not sound that impressive in Blood Rage. Some of the other monsters have unique and amazing abilities, from being able to invade Yggdrasil to instantly killing enemies, and yet the Sea Serpent is just a bit stronger than a ship, limited in where it can be deployed, and kind of expensive at the same time; however, on further exploration this is a bit harsh. To understand why to use the Sea Serpent we need to first understand why to use ships within the world of Blood Rage.
Ships are unique units in Blood Rage as they are able to invade two provinces at the same time by going in the water between the two, better known as a Fjord. When a ship is in a Fjord it can add two strength to a unit in either of the adjacent land masses. It can also pillage, which makes it doubly useful as a weapon in the game.
That being said, they are incredibly restricted in where they choose to go, with only four Fjords on the board. This means they can reach all territories on the board, but not all combinations of everything.
Essentially though, the best way to think of ships is as units who can be in two places at the same time. They are in both regions the Fjord joins.
So where do Sea Serpents come in? Well, in Blood Rage they can act as ships. Where this isn’t the best ability in the world, it does have its place – they behave as ships but have the strength of much larger beasts. Whilst a ship is only worth two strength in the combat of the game, the Sea Serpent is worth three. This makes it more powerful.
I mean, yes, it is more powerful, there is no denying that; however, it is not hugely more powerful. Instead, it is only one rage more powerful, making it the same as having an additional warrior on the battlefield as well as a ship. This doesn’t seem hugely beneficial; however, the Sea Serpent is more than it may appear to be.
What is the use of the Sea Serpent?
Where the Sea Serpent comes into its own is twofold. The first is under the guise of being one heck of a support unit.
Okay, so support units don’t feel that exciting, however, in this case they really can be. The most use a Fjord can be in a game of Blood Rage is by giving a net gain of +2 additional rage for each surrounding province. This gives it a use of being +4 if both the regions the Fjord is next to are considered as one.
With the Sea Serpent and a ship, that +2 becomes +5 in both provinces, and gives an overall gain of +10 in total. That is staggeringly huge, and +5 in either battle is difficult to argue with, especially if the adjacent province has (friendly) warriors in it as well. What the Sea Serpent represents is the physical equivalent to the bully on the playground. The warriors can stand behind him (or swim, whatever floats their boat) shaking their tiny fists and saying: “yeaahhhh!”
It is worth pointing out, that since each player only gets one ship, the Sea Serpent player will dominate the water.
There are two potential strategies here – either place the ship and the Sea Serpent (I almost wrote “Monster” there, which I suppose is also accurate) in the same Fjord to (more or less) guaranteed two victories in the adjacent provinces – or, play them in separate Fjords and have a military presence in half the provinces in the game purely by default. That can be really cool.
The second strategy is to use it as a psychological presence on the board.
Interestingly, this second strategy is actually incredibly successful. The idea is, although not hugely powerful, no one wants to pick a fight with a large monster. This means it is a great way of either using up enemy troops in a distraction technique or by feeling like a much larger threat than it is. This can put enemies off fighting for your space, and push them back to easier grounds.
Of course, this latter technique only works in a two or three player game, as any more players and you may be forced to fight a lot more. You may be forced to throw everything you have at one another (which is kind of the main point of the game, I suppose). In which case +5 is still pretty good. The Sea Serpent is, after all, a tank. With a little bit of groundwork, gaining a 5+ advantage in any battle does kind of make the boat/Sea Serpent combo unstoppable.
The Sea Serpent is not as exciting or exotic as some of the other monsters in Blood Rage and it may seem like it only really does one thing. That is kind of true, however, it does it really well. The Sea Serpent is a threat and a really good threat at that. It forces the opponent to reconsider what they are going to do, purely because they don’t want to end up as clam chowder. The Serpent hits and it hits hard, and thanks to that it is a formidable foe.
So, I’m intrigued. What is your favourite Blood Rage monster? What do you like using as a strategy? What do you wish you could do? Let me know in the comments below.