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Card Game Review: ‘Wintergrim’ from Nattsmyg

Wintergrim from Nattsmyg invites players to forge victory from the hardships of the land. It is steeped in a dark Nordic theme of hard life in the medieval northlands. Cards are labeled with historic terms like vard, thrall, and jarl while adding in mystical flair. The dark is heightened with the vibrant art by Michelle Helen Tolo and Johan Aronson, inviting players to join the struggle for survival as the weather takes drastic turns.

Wintergrim pits two players against one another to see who can master the wild lands. Players first establish their headquarters, whether cabins in the woods or villages built on the tundra. They then work to expand by taking on human units, workers and others more powerful warriors. Creatures from folklore such as gnomes and trolls also join in. These units in turn allow more construction, growing each players’ powers by adding worldly expansions like harbors and farms as well as mystical constructs like Spirit Trees to affect the weather.

The key to Wintergrim is maintaining the food supply. Each unit comes with a food requirement, which much be supported by the land. Whenever food runs short, units are taken out of play. This mechanic shifts players’ attention from building up a horde of workers and warriors. Instead, players will try to build the best possible collection of units using the food available.

Unlike many card games that do direct battle with anything on the table, Wintergrim offers a clever spatial mechanic where cards are moved around the table. Units may stay at home in the player’s own village, or they may move out into the open paths from land cards played in the middle of the table. They can go even further, invading the opponent’s land to capture or destroy enemy units.

The weather also serves as a major component to Wintergrim. While units are restricted by food sources, players may readily change the weather to give their available units an upper hand. The Asheim deck attacks with bitter cold, freezing up food supplies or stopping movement with Heavy Snowfall. The Vanheim counters with warmer weather, affecting battle with rainfall or halting travel with fog. Players will perfect their own styles of play mixing direct battle, sneaky attacks through the weather, or building a massive realm. Play continues until one player is able to destroy the other’s headquarters and claim all land for their own.

Wintergrim is a card game for two players aged twelve and up. It is a suitably long game for winter, diving deep into the theme. Players who thrive on thorough development and building to their game worlds through strong economic mechanics will return to Wintergrim again and again.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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