Blood Rage – Loki Strategy – Being The God of Mischief
Blood Rage has become something of an iconic game. Designed by veteran game designer Eric M. Lang, and released by Cool Mini or Not (now known as CMoN), Blood Rage pits players against each other as they battle for glory in the nine realms of Viking lore. It is a bloody game, as the name implies, with myth and monster competing for the good of the clans – be that of the wolf, the bear, the raven, or the serpent.
Throughout Blood Rage players draft cards to use in the various different Ages. The cards take the form of either clan upgrades, quests, monsters, or battle cards. Those cards tend to be themed after one of the great Norse gods, be that Thor, Tyr, Heimdall, Odin, Frigga, or, of course, Loki. Each god has their own personality for players to mix and match between, and each can be used to devastating results.
Due to the card drafting mechanic, and due to the nature of the cards, this leave Blood Rage open to a large amount of strategy. There are thousands of different ways to play the game – including being monster focused or mixing up the gods. That being said, for those who just enjoy the theme of the Viking realms, you can also play entirely thematically, and it is kind of this that we’ll be looking at today. The gods of Blood Rage are hungry for glory, but there is one that stands out as being a little bit different to the other three.
That god, needless to say, is Loki.
Yes, it is possible to play a really strong Blood Rage Loki strategy, and it is this that we will be deconstructing a little bit today. Please note, before we begin however, that there are three points.
- Firstly, there are plenty of ways to play a Loki strategy, and the aim of this article is to explore a few core concepts that knit together well when playing the game. A lot of these will be obvious to experienced players, but there should also be a few new ideas as well.
- Secondly, this is just my opinion of what knits together. There are a million other ways to double up on the strategy or work with it. This is not a definitive guide, but rather tips, tricks and a catalogue of options to give it a go.
- Thirdly, this is just looking at the base game and not cards that came with either the Kickstarter of Blood Rage or the expansions. Let’s keep it basic.
- Fourthly (and yes, I know I said three), this is not a surefire way of winning, but it is a fun and thematic way of playing a challenging game.
Let’s do this.
Blood Rage: Loki Strategy
Unlike a lot of the gods in Blood Rage, if you want to commit to Loki as a thematic character, you really need to commit. He can be difficult to play, and it involves knowing which cards to pass up as well as which cards to keep. As such, we’ll be looking at both cards that help with the strategy, and cards that you definitely don’t want.
The Base Concept of Loki
First though, let’s look at the base concept of Loki in Blood Rage.
You see, unlike with the other gods, Loki can flip the base concept of the game on its head. As a strategy, in Blood Rage, you usually want to fight players for control of specific regions to reap the rewards of pillaging provinces. That is the normal way to play and it makes perfect sense. How else are you going to get the glory if you don’t gain it by war?
Well, in Loki’s case, you get it by losing. You get the glory by ensure you lose in battle rather than you win. It’s a weird and amazing concept – the idea that the whole game is flipped – and this is why Loki is such an alluring character to try and play. He can change the concept of the game.
An important thing to note is that this changes how Loki gets points and increases in his clan stats. If all goes to plan, you will pillage when other players aren’t interested in you, getting the rewards. You will also lose when they are interested in you, getting points for warriors in Valhalla (using various different methods explored in this article). The majority of clan stat increases should come from either sneaky pillaging or quests, most notably the many Glorious Deaths.
Throughout the course of this article we are going to break the game down by Ages and look at the cards you want to take and the cards you want to pass if you see them go past, assuming you want to play a kick ass Loki game.
Loki Strategy: Age 1
Starting off the game there are immediately a few cards that aid with the Loki strategy in Blood Rage – some of which are obvious and some of which aren’t. Likewise, there are cards to avoid.
Definite cards to look for include:
- Glorious Death – Now there are Glorious Death cards in every single Age in Blood Rage and they are core ways for Loki players to gain points. Essentially, what Glorious Death does is give you points based on having a certain number of figures in Valhalla before Ragnarok. In the first Age this is 6 points. What is more, with 4 players there is a second Glorious Quest card in circulation. These can double up as, to quote ye ol’ rulebook:
“There is no limit to the number of Quests you can commit to during each Age, and you may commit to two Quests of the same type (each giving its reward independently).” – Page 17, under “Quest”
- Loki’s Trickery – This is an obvious card for the strategy given the name. It is essentially a buff in battle, allowing you to steal rage from the winning player in a pillage. That being said, be wary of using this if you still have lots of pieces on the board – play it at the right time because you want as many troops in Valhalla as possible, without necessarily restricting your opponent’s ability to get you there. I’m not saying don’t play it – you definitely should – but play it at the right time.
- Loki’s Domain – Another obvious Loki strategy card due to the name – Loki’s Domain gives you 1 glory for every figure you release from Valhalla. Add this onto Glorious Death and it effectively acts like a lovely little additional bonus. Note that Loki’s Domain is actually a stronger card as you can, in theory, release up to 12 figures from Valhalla (later on in the game and including monsters), gaining you a lovely 12 points.
- Loki’s Blessing – Yep, Loki again. Loki’s Blessing is in a four player game and is one of the ways you can get more and more figures out onto the board, and thus into Valhalla. Loki’s Blessing allows for, when you lose in battle, you can invade that province immediately with a warrior for free. This is especially useful for the area that will have Ragnarok hit it at the end of the Age, as:
- The province will already have been pillaged meaning that it can’t be pillaged again without specialist cards, making you more likely to be taken out by Ragnarok. This is useful if you already have the prerequisites for Glorious Death and don’t have Loki’s Domain.
- If you do have either of those, you can always move the warriors to another region for additional pillaging or combat.
- Loki’s Dragons – Ships aren’t a huge amount of use in the Loki strategy unless you have an upgrade card like this – Loki’s Dragons. Loki’s Dragons means you gain 4 glory every time your ship is destroyed. It is because of this that, if you see it go past in Age 1, it is worth grabbing. Later it can be upgraded, but more on that when we talk about Ages 2 and 3. Super useful if you aim on losing battles.
- Frigga’s Succor – Frigga’s Succor allows you to, when you invade you can invade with another warrior in that province for free. It’s a lovely card, and one that works with a whole host of different strategies. Combined with Glorious Death or Loki’s Domain and it can be a fantastic way of racking up points.
- Frigga’s Charm – Finally, we have the least obvious card in the first Age that helps with the Loki strategy – Frigga’s Charm. Frigga’s Charm allows you to play upgrade cards for one less rage, and that is incredibly useful. A lot of the Loki strategy revolves around upgrade cards, so it is definitely worth having.
So, you want to play Loki – what do you want to avoid in the first Age? Well, the first is quests you think will be a bit of a stretch with a fully actualised Loki strategy. If all goes to plan, you shouldn’t have anything left in Alfheim or Manheim (etc.) so you may as well put your effort into the other Loki cards.
That being said, if you have a quest for the province about to be destroyed by Ragnarok, that can be worthwhile. Likewise, if you believe you will have figures on the board at the end of the Age, you may as well get a quest to make the most of them at round end. After all, if you have maxed out your upgrades and you don’t want to get more battle cards, you may as well get other quests
Secondly, if you really want a monster go with the Sea Serpent (especially if you have Loki’s Dragons, since it counts as a ship) or the Dwarven Chieftain. Don’t go for the Troll. The Troll can, in the hands of your opponents, wipe out a whole host of your warrior at once which is conversely good for the strategy. It is definitely worth putting into someone else’s hands.
Loki Strategy: Age 2
So, you’ve made it through the first Age. Now you’re onto the second age, and there is a whole hand of new cards to choose from. During the second age there are notably fewer specialist Loki cards so we can start getting creative.
- Glorious Death – Yes, Glorious Death is back, only this time it is worth 8 points. Nice.
- Fire Dragons – Remember Loki’s Dragons? Well, now there is Fire Dragons. You can toss that Loki’s Dragons away, as Fire Dragons makes each ship (or Sea Serpent) destroyed worth 8 points.
- Loki’s Eminence – Loki’s Eminence is a card that is the buffed version of Loki’s Domain. Rather than 1 additional glory per figure released from Valhalla, Loki’s Eminence means you can get two. What is more, the two can actually stack, meaning if you want to go for a full Valhalla style strategy they can both be kind of useful.
The rest of the great cards in Age 2 for the Blood Rage Loki strategy are all either Loki or Odin.
- Loki’s Backstar – Loki’s Backstar is a useful card because it allows you to get 2 glory for losing a battle, and you get that by stealing it off another play. What this ultimately means is a swing of four points between you and that player, which is a decent amount of points in a game where the score can be fairly tight in the end game.
- Odin’s Inspiration – Whilst probably not a primary clan upgrade for the Loki strategy, Odin’s Inspiration is worth it if you find yourself on a relatively empty board. It allows for for you to march to the province about to be hit by Ragnarok and wait there for bonus points at the end of the Age. This is, weirdly, kind of helpful if another player is also monopolising on Loki strategy cards.
- Odin’s Tide – Odin’s Tide is a great way of ensuring you will put troops into Valhalla if you have the Glorious Death quest. It allows for you, as the player, to invest heavily in a pillage where there is only one or two opponent figures. You can play Odin’s Tide and seriously reduce the number of figures involved, by removing all but one figure from either side.
Once again, you want to avoid additional Quests (unless you have one for the about-to-be-Ragnarok-ed province). Again, you want to avoid too many Battle cards, and in this case you probably want to leave monsters alone as well. They start getting powerful and difficult to kill, so even monsters like the Dark Elf are probably best left alone. Definitely avoid the Fire Giant.
Loki Strategy: Age 3
Age 3 in Blood Rage is where things start to get super interesting for someone playing the Loki strategy, and it is also where it becomes a bit trickier.
Once again, there are upgrades of certain cards:
- Eternal Dragons is the upgraded versions of Fire Dragons and Loki’s Dragons, now worth 12 glory. If you have the Sea Serpent or want to play the ship game that can be important.
- Glorious Death is now worth 11 glory.
- Loki’s Wrath is the upgrade of Loki’s Eminence and Loki’s Domain. Now figures you release from Valhalla are worth 3 glory.
Then there are the cards that are unique to Age 3 worth considering. Let’s start with the Loki ones again, before moving onto the other gods –
- Loki’s Poison – This falls under the Loki strategy for thematic purposes; however, it is actually more of a combat based card. If you lose in battle using Loki’s Poison you gain the cards used by the winning player. It’s not hugely useful for a pure Loki strategy unless teamed up with other cards, as you don’t necessarily want strong battle cards, but it is an interesting card to have for thematic purposes.
- Odin’s Judgement – Odin’s Judgement is a nice Loki card because it give you glory per figure destroyed in a battle, including yours. This means you can play it when the odds are against you or you know your opponent has a higher value Battle cards.
- Odin’s Throne – Odin’s Throne is incredibly powerful as it allows you to double the glory from quests completed in Age 3. With cards like the 11 point Glorious Death, and with the fact there are two of them, that could mean a total of 44 points in Glorious Deaths alone. Alternatively, using the aforementioned Ragnarok location strategy you can gain double points from a Quest elsewhere on the board, before getting additional points for Ragnarok. There is no doubt about it, Odin’s Throne is one of the most powerful cards in the game.
- Heimdall’s Watch – The least thematic card on this list, Heimdall’s Watch is just a glory bonus. It allows you to not only participate in a combat you may lose, but it also allows for you to gain Glory based on your opponent’s strength.
- Frigga’s Sacrifice – Frigga’s Sacrifice, like Odin’s Throne, is one of the most powerful cards in the game when teamed up with certain other cards. Team, for instance Frigga’s Sacrifice up with something like the Loki’s Wrath series of cards and it not only gains you the clan stat but also the potential for a load of points by destroying your own warriors. Raising the clan stat may also push it into the additional points brackets on the Clan Sheet. That’s a lot of points with one turn!
There’s nothing new this time with what to avoid. Choose the right Quests (unless you get Odin’s Throne, which may change your game substantially), don’t go too heavily into Pillaging/Battle, and choose the upgrades that are right for you.
The Loki Strategy
There is no doubt about it – if you want to go full Loki strategy in Blood Rage it can be incredibly powerful assuming the right cards come to you during the God’s Gifts stage of the game. It can also be incredibly challenging as you need to flip the usual Blood Rage strategy on its head. What is more, it becomes harder to play (and less obvious), as the game goes on. You really have to use your head, and understand that your main clan stat increases will come from quests like Glorious Death rather than from pillaging, with the majority of glory coming from losing warriors to Valhalla.
That and, if other players clock on, they can make it really difficult for you to progress and get points, simply by avoiding you. If that is the case, you’ll need to either adapt strategies or get creative.
That being said, if you manage to pull the Loki strategy off it can also be incredibly satisfying. It’s not an easy game, but knowing you managed to beat the game at its own game can be a fun in its own way.
Through this article we have looked at some of the truly great cards that can help make up a solid Loki based strategy; however, it is definitely the case that there are other cards that can help or other ways to play the strategy, so I encourage you to read around and see what else you can find.
So, there we have it. What strategies do you like to play in Blood Rage? What are your favourite tactics to employ? What have I missed? Let me know in the comments below.