Take off on a quest to create the most powerful realm in Vaalbara! From Studio H and Hachette, Vaalbara was designed by Oliver Cipiére with art from Félix Donadio, Jocelin Carmes, and Alexandre Reynaud, and takes players and a journey to create the best place to be in an unexplored land. The better the realm, the more victory points a player gains, and the player with the most points at the end of the game has founded the best place to be on Vaalbara’s untouched landscape.
What’s In The Box?
The game comes with 51 land cards, 60 character cards (5 each of 12 different kinds like a fighter, oracle, and rider), and 75 tokens valued at 1, 5, 10, and 25, plus a short and sweet rulebook. The art on the cards is great!
How to Play Vaalbara
Vaalbara can be played with up to 5 people, but for the purposes of this review, we played a two-player game. To set up, players will shuffle all of the ‘2+’ Land Cards to create the Land deck. Each player will pick one set of cards from one of the clans: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, or Purple. They will also pick two face-down Victory Tokens that will have their values revealed at the end of the game. Players will then create two rows of cards pulled from the land deck with each row having the same amount of cards as players (a two-player game will have 2 rows of two cards).
Each player will then pick a single character card to put face down, and when all players have chosen their character the cards will be flipped face up to reveal the initiative value. The player with the lowest initiative plays first for that round, and players will follow in ascending order of initiative until the round is over. Each character has an action that must be performed when they are played, regardless of whether or not that action is detrimental to the player. After the character action is played, players take a land card from the bottom row of face-up Land Cards and gain victory points based on how the card directs them to.
Players will complete a total of nine rounds, and after finishing they will calculate their scores based on how many Victory Points they’ve gained throughout the course of the game. If a player has five of the six terrains, they get 5 extra Victory Points, and if they have all six realms they gain 10 victory points. The player with the most points wins!
Vaalbara is a quick, fun, and easy game that can be played over and over again! While the rulebook might seem a little complicated in its simplicity at first glance, the game is simple to learn and moves quickly once you get into the groove of things. The art on the cards is beautiful and it’s really nice that the cards with low initiative value have disadvantages for the players that get to play the round first.
When playing the game the second time, we played character cards without looking at them first, and it made for another level of fun and a bit of suspense from round to round. Simply based off of that, there are a lot of ways to make the game your own after playing it the way the rule book dictates, and it’s always fun to be able to breathe new life into a game you already love. Overall, Vaalbara was a great time for all, and it should absolutely be the next thing you pull out at a gathering.
Images and review copy courtesy of Studio H and Hachette Games
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