03 December 2013

SVEA Rike - boardgame review

This is a golden oldie that David brought down to the club a while back - it's a game about Sweden at its height of power (rise and decline) starting in the late 1500 and ending in the early 1700.

Each player takes control over a Swedish noble family and is dealt a number of counties within the Swedish border. Each county can provide income and/or troops. Some counties are very rich but sparsely populated and some are densely populated and yield more regiments for your army.

There are also a number of trade centers around the map to which players can send their merchants. At the start of each turn a player may trade, harvest or play event cards. Event cards are randomly drawn from a stack and can help the player to prosper or be used to damage other players. They often add a nice flavor to the game, as castles burn down by accident, bad harvests occur or someone dies out of illness.

At the end of a turn a random event occurs, this can mean that war erupts with a neighboring country, merchants demand specific goods or something else. The war event is as clever as it is simple. You see, each   turn covers the reign of a Swedish monarch, and the game has divided the timeline into three distinct periods. Each period also dictates which neighboring countries Sweden will wage war with when the "WAR!" card is flipped - so that the game maintains historical enemies and becomes progressively more difficult. Wars can be waged with Denmark, Poland-Lithuania, Prussia and Russia - the latter is a difficult opponent that appears during the endgame period.

During the war at the end of a phase all players decide what regiments to send forth into battle, the "AI" matches and adds to the number of human players. The stronger the regiment (number of silhouettes) the easier it is for the regiment to inflict a wound. Combat is decided by rolling D6 dice, starting with the human side - removing AI casualties and then rolling AI regiments and removing human casualties. If the Swedish combined army wins the battle each player is awarded a random county from the conquered nation, a trade node or a county back home in Sweden. Should the Swedish army lose then all involved players are punished and lose a county from under their control.

The game allows you to retake lost territory up until the 3rd period and the wars with Russia. Regions lost during wars with Russia are permanently lost, which makes players who focused their expansion in the Baltic states and Finland will be hard pressed.

When the game ends players sum up their victory points, awarded for gold, number of counties, ownership of historical characters and research cards.

It's a very simple game and it plays fast, but it is also surprisingly fun and the artwork is excellent. The feeling I got from playing the game was something along the lines of playing a "Light" boardgame version of Europa Universalis the PC game series. The game as far as I know is sadly not available in English, and the Swedish edition and its expansion is very rare and out of print as well. Should you however stumble across this game, it is a great buy!

1 comment:

  1. Nice.
    I have that game but it been ages since I last played it tho, maybe its soon time to dust it off. I remebering it beeing a fun game.


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