September 21, 2011

Ygdrassil and The Redemption of Athalus

The Game (from Z-Man): In Yggdrasil the players represent Gods of Scandinavian Mythology (Odin, Thor, Tyr, Frey, Freya and Heimdall) who fight against monsters (Loki, Fenrir, Surt, Hel, Niddhog and Jormungand) to avoid the Ragnarok (the end of the times).In each turn, a God (player) can perform three actions in the Worlds of Yggdrasil. It may appeal to dwarf who forged weapons, seek the help of elves, send Valkyries seeking new souls of vikings who form the divine army, negotiate with caravans, fighting against the giants of ice weaken the gods but can also use the runes, fire giants manage the lands of Midgard, Asgard to fight directly against the enemy.A fully cooperative game for 1-6 players set in Asgard. All the enemies of Asgard (Hel, Loki, Fenris, Surt, etc) are making their way to Odin's Throne and it is up to the player-gods to stop them from reaching it. Each player-good has a special ability and can do actions from different parts of Asgard. --Manufacturer Product Description

The Book (by David & Leigh Eddings): It would be sheer folly to try to conceal the true nature of Althalus, for his flaws are the stuff of legend. He is, as all men know, a thief, a liar, an occasional murderer, an outrageous braggart, and a man devoid of even the slightest hint of honor.

Yet of all the men in the world, it is Althalus, unrepentant rogue and scoundrel, who will become the champion of humanity in its desperate struggle against the forces of an ancient god determined to return the universe to nothingness. On his way to steal The Book from the House at the End of the World, Althalus is confronted by a cat--a cat with eyes like emeralds, the voice of a woman, and the powers of a goddess.

She is Dweia, sister to The Gods and a greater thief even than Althalus. She must be: for in no time at all, she has stolen his heart. And more. She has stolen time itself. For when Althalus leaves the House at the End of the World, much wiser but not a day older than when he'd first entered it, thousands of years have gone by.

But Dweia is not the only one able to manipulate time. Her evil brother shares the power, and while Dweia has been teaching Althalus the secrets of The Book, the ancient God has been using the dark magic of his own Book to rewrite history. Yet all is not lost. But only if Althalus, still a thief at heart, can bring together a ragtag group of men, women, and children with no reason to trust him or each other. --Inside Flap

An old book and a new board game.  The Redemption of Athalus is a stand-alone fantasy novel packed with the wit, plot, and close scrapes of a longer series.  I'm either a lazy reader or an economical one, but I love the punch of this single-volume story.  Larger-than-life and yet so-human characters struggle to stop the end of the world in a drama of gods and men.  This also neatly describes Ygddrasil.

Ygddrasil is probably one of the hardest co-op games I've ever played.  The resources are tight, the monsters always progressing, and even one wasted turn can spell doom.  No loafers among Vikings, not here, not if you want to win.  As a bonus, it plays six, accomodating a larger gaming crowd, and if the base game isn't hard enough (it is!) there's an advanced version.  Part of the fun -- besides gnawing away my fingernails -- is the interaction as the group brainstorms strategies.  The Redemption of Athalus is likewise full of very different people trying to solve the same problem by utilizing their various strengths.  Their brainstorming is clever (we'll pretend mine is too), often makes me laugh, and always results in a close scrape.  This book also has one of my favorite literary moments, but alas, it's near the end and I wouldn't want to spoil it.

An older book?  Yes, but still as good as the day it was printed.  A new game?  Yes, but definitely worth the effort to learn, especially if you love an epic backdrop.


  1. Thanks so much for the comment on my DSF story! I really appreciate it. :)

  2. I love Athalus and must find out more about this game!!!

  3. If your local game shop has games in back for people to try out, they might have this one. My game shop does, which is how I learned to play Yggdrasil.