With John back in circulation, we were up to six players so it was the ideal time to have a go at Eketorp, a game designed by Dirk Henn and given a lavish production as usual by Queen Games.
Eketorp is a game about Vikings… Vikings fighting to protect their homeland. The idea is to turn your home into a stronghold by building impenetrable walls around it. These walls can be acquired by going out into the fields to obtain the base raw materials or by stealing them from your neighbours. The game is played over up to ten rounds. A round starts by certain raw materials appearing in the seven fields around Eketorp. Players then secretly decide what to do with their Viking followers: This involves either heading to a specific resource field or attacking part of your neighbours’ strongholds or defending your own. Any conflict is resolved by the opponents each playing a single card, with the higher card winning and the loser’s Viking being taken to hospital for a number of turns determined by how badly beaten they are. The neat thing is, though, that the players exchange the battle cards they played, thus strengthening the loser for later battles and weakening the winner. When all the conflict has been resolved the victorious Vikings gather their spoils and build up the walls around their stronghold. The game ends when someone has built 18 walls around their home or after 10 rounds, when the value of the walls is determined and whoever has assembled the best protected settlement is declared the winner.
This is a game with lots of player interaction and fun skirmishes. Someone who gets too far ahead is likely to find themselves the subject of attacks by their fellow players, unless your name is John and can somehow bend people’s minds so that they think other players are more of a threat. The game also punishes those (me!) who can’t pick or defend a fight at any cost. My first five skirmishes ended in straight ties, sending both parties to the hospital and neither with any spoils, which left me vulnerable to attack – thanks, Nige – and very little progress towards defending my home. Both Mark K and Steve seemed to have phases where they seemed to be doing well only for them to be pegged back or go on the defensive, hampering further progress. Eventually though, John managed to claim his final wall piece and end the game. Although he had shied away from the more valuable clay and stone bricks, his greater number of walls and the bonus for finishing saw him take a well fought win. Good fun.