Review: Rampaging Jotunn or Don’t become a Giants Toe-Jam


3d-BoxFrom wikipedia

The jötnar (anglicized jotunn or jotun, plural jötnar/ˈjtən//ˈjtʊn/, or /ˈjɔːtʊn/; Icelandic: [ˈjœːtʏn]; from Old Norsejǫtunn /ˈjɔtunː/; often glossed as giant or ettin) can be seen throughout Norse mythology. The Jötnar are a mythological race that live in Jötunheimr, one of the nine worlds of Norse cosmology. They were banished there by the Æsir who refuse them entry to their world, Asgard. The Jötnar frequently interact with the Æsir, as well as the Vanir. They are usually in opposition to, or in competition with, them but also interact with them in a non-hostile manner.

Before I get to the hows and whys, I have a few dont’s:

  • Do not: Get stepped on by a Jotunn
  • Do not: NOT pay attention to the Jotunn bearing down on you (yes, double negative, bitches)
  • Do not: Under any circumstances, play this game with Jenn. She will spend the entire game trying to get the Jotunn to step on you and then giggle with glee while making squishing sounds.
  • Do not: fall into a volcano
  • Do not: get near two Jotunn fighting (4-player game)
  • Do not: under-estimate the dice, they want to kill you as much as your opponent
  • Do not: get stepped on by a Jotunn

For everyone else, we first played this at a little curry get-together when we had Matthias Bonnici and Emerson Matsuuchi. We playtested RJ and a very late prototype of what-was-to-be-Spectre-Ops (Cypher Ops, as it was called at the time).

The game is played on a modular board, meaning you are playing with 6 boards randomly selected from a pile of 12. Each one of those boards has six options for placement so the odds of you playing the same game twice are smaller than the heads of a squished army.  Roll a die to determine the direction the Jotunn is facing and you’re almost ready to go.

rj2Place your villages and armies, being aware of the terrain as different areas are harder for invaders and giant feet to traverse. Did I mention there are cards? Because, there are cards. You each have 3 cards that control the movement of your armies.  One is for 2 movement, one is for 3 and the other one is for 4 movement. You must use these wisely as when one is used it is flipped over and you can only reset these cards when all have been used. Deal each player 5 “Jotunn Movement” cards and let the bloodbath* begin. The rest of the game is simple. On your turn do one of three things: play a card from your hand, move an army using one of the unused movement cards in front of you, or discard 3 cards from your hand to raise an army.
Oh, and if no one plays a card to influence the Jotunn: THE JOTUNN MOVES FORWARD. If he hits the edge of the board, he does a 180. If he falls in a volcano, he resets to the center. If he steps on your army… Squish. If the Jotunn stomps your villages, he resets to the center and regrets nothing. Oh, did I mention that if you have no villages on the board you failed? That’s the goal, destroy your opponent’s villages.

rj1The whole thing plays out in about a half hour; twenty minutes on your second or third play.

Verdict? This is a must have game for board gamers and war gamers alike. With a little coaching you can get the younger ones in on the action as well. With the 4-player expansion on it’s way you can get the whole family in on the village stomping fun.

There is a jo-TONNE of a game in this box. (sorry)

P.S. Sorry Matthias this review is about a year late, you keep reminding me of that.

*The game pieces do not actually bleed.

It’s on Kickstarter now!

The tiles make for like a bajillion board combinations.

Art by Nicolás R. Giacondino

Easy to learn, not TOO difficult for the kiddies to play.