English language edition
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Each morning, Odin, the father of the Gods, sends his two ravens: Hugin and Mugin out into the world to watch over the land. The players try to help the feathered spies along their way over the various lands of the northern hemisphere. To move the ravens, the players must play appropriate flight cards from their hands. They may also get help directly from Odin. With skillful use of the cards, a player can move his raven quickly over the land.
Correction to "The Magic Way"
The six magic way cards show either two land types or one land type and a picture of Odin. At the beginning of each race, one of the cards is face up on the magic card stack. At the end of a race, the player who has played the most cards to the face up magic way card earns bonus points. To play a card to the magic way card, a player must play a flight card without moving his raven or an Odin card without taking its action. The card played must match one of the two pictures on the magic way card (an Odin card matches the picture of Odin). The card may come from the player’s hand or from his auxiliary card stack (top-most card). When a player plays a card to the face up magic way card, he places it face up next to the magic way card.
Example: At the beginning of the game, the magic way card shows Odin and a mountain. Either player may play to the card by playing any Odin card or a mountain flight card.
The player places the card played face up in the space he reserved for magic way cards. The players should overlap the cards they play to the magic way card so that they can see how many each has.
This is one of my very favorite two player games. The race path is a great mechanism that I haven't seen in any other game. It is simple and simply brilliant. Games between two good players can be very intense and still be wrapped up in 30 minutes. My wife and I still pull this one out frequently.
My wife and I play a lot of two player games and she is convinced that Lost Cities is the best. I thought Carcassonne was the best two player that we owned. We recently received Odin's Ravens as a gift and we've played it several times. Both of us love this game. I think words like brilliant and great get overused when describing good games, but Odin's Ravens probably deserves both words, especially for a two player game.
It is a unique game with a clever "auxiliary stack" mechanic that allows you to set yourself up for a big play on your next turn if you are stuck on your current turn. It gives me the feel that I can do something positive on each play.
When we went through the rules for the first time, my wife questioned the Magic Way card and how it seemed "awkward" that you would play cards to it during the game. Both of us have since learned that this aspect of the game provides another positive play when you may otherwise be stuck and provides for some challenging decisions when you and your opponent have already played several cards to the Magic Way. Do you go for the 3 points by adding another card or will you need that card to win the race as you near the finish?
Let me start by admitting that I am a bit of a novice at games, since I have only recently (in the past year) ventured into this brave new world of amusement.
Let me also share the psychology that would determine my evaluation of a game. I prefer games that are easy to learn, don't play for very long, and are a mixture of both luck and skill. I am not a particularly skilled gamer and have a short attention span – read that ADD. I like games with a nice aesthetic and creative presentation in their artwork and pieces. The beauty of a game is something that I actually enjoy as a part of the process. I also enjoy games with lots of interaction between players - games that are conducive to smack talk and kibitzing as a part of the playing process.
I have purchased and tried out a few games now, and Odin's Ravens has been the greatest success in the above criteria for both my husband and me. We actually enjoy it more than Lost Cities, as it seems more interactive. It reminds me a bit of dominoes with a specific scenario and a few enjoyable twists. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in a two-person game more elaborate than a simple deck of cards might offer. We have really enjoyed it.
These are the words my wife uttered after the first time we played Odin's Ravens. My wife is an avid gamer (I am truly blessed) and this type of praise never occurred after our initial outings of Caesar and Cleopatra, Lost Cities, or even the Holy Grail of Gaming, Carcasonne. Although it's fairly easy to learn, after a few plays you realize how many different subtleties that the cards allow for in each game. One of the best (or worst, if it's being done to you) features is the &%$%#@& factor, as your opponent plays a card that suddenly totally destroys your well-devised dash to the finish line!
The basic premise is a race between two of Odin's ravens over various types of landscape until one reaches the end of the landscape. A hand of cards and the auxiliary stack (when you master this aspect your chances of winning increase exponentially) allow you to play up to three cards from your hand and up to three cards from your auxiliary stack (only the topmost card). Odin cards allow manipulation of the scenery, movement of your (or your opponent's raven) etc. To further complicate things, there is a 'magic way' that gives points toward the winning total. I wanted to write this review because if you are looking for a great two player game, look no further! Both Odin's Ravens and Balloon Cup are good, but our nod goes to Odin!
Great 2 player game! In my opinion, Odin's Ravens is much better than Lost Cities. I'd probably place it on level with Balloon Cup. If you're looking for an easy to learn, fun 2 player game with good strategy, then look no further. Well, unless you want to look at Balloon Cup. I haven't decided which one I like better yet. Buy both! I did! Raven races and hot air balloon races. Hmmmm....I must just like racing games with odd themes.
My current favorite two-player card game. (It has recently displaced Lost Cities for that spot.) A lot of different tactics available to get you to your goal. Jump ahead? Lengthen the course? Block your opponent? In this game it pays to plan ahead. Never gets old. Plays quickly too. A real winner.
My first few games of Odin's Ravens left me feeling 'so what?'--but that was before I found the amended rules for using the 'Magic Way' cards (the English rules that come with the card game incorrectly describe the use of these cards; the correct version is available on boardgamegeek.com). When played correctly, this game is elegant and absorbing, competitive and tactical without being aggressive. There is a lot of room for manipulating the cards in such a way as to lengthen or shorten the game, according to what benefits you. I recommend this game as an entertaining game that requires thought, without being a real brain-burner.
Odin's Ravens is one of three two player Rio Grande/Kosmos games released this winter along w/ Hellas & Heave Ho!. Before starting the review though, you should go to Rio Grande Games web-site and get the corrected translation of one section of rules. It is a rare thing to see Jay Tummelson and his group have a challenge like this, but I'm sure it happens. My review is based on the corrected rules.
Odin's Ravens is by Thorsten Gimmler, who designed Cape Horn. I had some challenges with that game (posted review here) so I was hesitant about Odin's Ravens. Totally misplaced! This is my favorite of the three new releases, though I truly enjoy all of them. Two players 'fly' across a randomly created landscape. Each player has his own identical sets of matching landscape cards and Odin cards. On his turn, a player may play up three cards from his hand, advancing his raven and using the Odin cards to help himself along or hinder his opponent. He may also place cards (as a part of his three) into a 'reserve pile' for later use. The ability to get cards into this second pile is vital as a player may play three cards from this reserve pile along w/ the three from his hand. Being able to lay down six cards, especially toward the end game, is extremely powerful. Players may also play cards on 'The Magic Way'. (see corrected rules) The game ends when one raven reaches the end of the landscape cards. The winning raven scores one point for every space he finished ahead of the loser. The player with the most cards on 'The Magic Way' also receives three points regardless if they won or not. First player to twelve points wins.
This is a great card game. There is a lot of interaction with your opponent with the Odin cards, deciding whether to advance yourself or stick it to your adversary, i.e. the screw factor. The corrected rules concerning the 'Magic Way' lets the game have a better balance at the beginning. After a couple of plays, you may want to make a house rule over the flown over landscape cards. One of the players in our group likes leaving them on the board, giving more flexibility with the Odin cards, others like to eliminate them (except the last two) as the game designer suggests. Either way, the racing theme, the graphics, ease of play, and replay value all score high points with Boardgamers of Reno. Our hearty thank-you to Rio Grande Games and Jay Tummelson for bringing out all three of these Kosmos two player games
I got this game last Friday and the 1st reaction from my wife was literally 'blah'. However, after the first round she is seriously hooked! She begs me to play this every day since then.
There are a lot of strategies involved, and the design of an auxiliary deck is crucial.
Overall just a great game and top-notched components.
I agree with the previous reviews. Odin's Ravens offers two players multiple decisions and a varying map layout, which also keeps each game fresh. It ranks right up there with the best of the Kosmos 2 player games.
Deciding what cards to play and where is the heart of the game. Building an auxillary stack to play off of in later turns can be crucial. Using the Odin cards to alter the map layout, or stall your opponent makes for some tough decisions at times. Playing off cards to get the 3 bonus points for the Magic Way can both help you and make your opponent think twice about their actions. Just a wonderful game!
The components are first rate as well. It is a 5 star game for sure!
I just bought this game yesterday for my boyfriend and I. We played it twice and had a great time. It is a really fun and fast game. Odin's Ravens is easy to learn but you still have multiple actions you can take each turn which can drastically change the course of the game. And having to play multiple rounds to finish the game keeps it very competative! It takes a bit of strategy and only a little luck (because of which cards you draw from your deck) but you can also create an auxiliary deck to plan ahead and gain more moves. The Odin marker is a great way to shaft your partner too! All in all, Odin's Ravens is a great game that is not too complex and mind bogging but with enough actions to keep it interesting game after game. I rank it along side Caesar & Cleopatra as a great two-player game. :)
It took a few tries to get the hang of Odin's Ravens. At first it seemed a bit 'is that really it?' (like Lost Cities did originally). A few more plays, however, revealed the possibility for subtle planning and sneaking ahead with clever card play. It's not a dumb 'race game' by any means. In addition, the cards and pieces are top notch quality and beautiful. Another excellent title from Rio Grande Games!
We got this game after we got addicted to Lost Cities and wanted to play something different. First of all If you were the person who won 80% of Lost Cities , you probably are going to lose 80% Odin's.
Odin's has definitely more strategy than Lost Cities and if you would play with somebody who thinks a lot on their turn the game could take even 1,5 hour to play. We thought that nobody can think of a better game that Lost Cities and this one comes very close (according to my husband it is even better).
One more thing I understand why land cards are narrow but why flying cards are so narrow, they are hard to shuffle and we mix them up with land cards. They should be different size.
It is a good game, not as good as Hera and Zues or Lost Cities, but not a bad one. Thw rules are a little confusing but not too bad to learn. The only problem is that each round is too fast. And I thought Lost cities was fast, this is faster, so doesn't really make you enjoy it much each round. But over all, a good game.
So I recomend this game only to people who play a heck of a lot of 2-player games (which I hardly ever play). In that case, you'll probably get sick of Lost Cities and Carcassonne and be ready for something new. I would probably also recomend Balloon Cup over this game but that may be because I have played it a lot more.
Nine random land cards, each resembling a domino but with terrains in lieu of spots, form two parallel tracks. The first player to get his raven to the end of its track wins the race, scoring points for how far the opponent trails. A simultaneous battle takes place on a randomly selected Magic Way.
Start with five cards drawn from your personal deck. Play up to three per turn, and replenish. Flight cards illustrate terrains. Move your raven forward by playing a flight card matching your raven's next space. Odin cards offer assistance; they may enable you to delay your opponent's progress or to advantageously rearrange land cards. Discard cards matching the Magic Way's terrain; you earn points for most discards when the race ends. You can play cards into a stack, neatly saving them for future use in addition to those playable from hand. Win by reaching the target score over several races. This game is an accomplishment worth crowing about.
Odin's Ravens is another in the excellent Kosmos "Spiele fr Zwei" series, and this time each player is racing a Raven across a continually-changing landscape with a little help from the father of the Gods himself. Thorsten Gimmler from Berlin has had only a few games published, but in at least two (Cape Horn and Pool Position) his designs have shown creative thought and execution. Odin's Ravens fits the Kosmos line perfectly in both length and weight.
The race course begins by laying out nine land cards, shaped like the Caesar and Cleopatra cards, with each showing two land types in a dominoes-tile format. This creates two flight paths, one for each player, and initially no two land types can be next to each other. Each player also receives a deck of cards which contains mostly Flight cards. These show a picture of a land type, so if my raven needs to fly over a mountain card, I will need to play a mountain flight card to do this. In addition to the Flight cards, there are also Odin cards that allow special actions including changing the landscape and blocking your opponent's flight path. By playing the cards needed to fly over the land types on a flight path, ravens advance and the first player to reach the end of the course scores points equal to the lead over their opponent. Races are played until one player reaches 12 points.
Each player gets five cards from their stack, and on their turn they can play up to three. "Playing" a card can mean placing it in your auxiliary stack, and as this builds you can also draw from the top of this stack. So, on a single turn you could play as many as six cards by playing three from your hand and three from your auxiliary stack, though the auxiliary cards can only be played in reverse order of placement (last card placed will be the first one played). Managing your auxiliary stack is a critical component of the game play and the player who does this best can both gain an advantage and better manage an otherwise random card draw.
The Odin cards are played as normal, but instead of moving a raven they allow a specific action. One type allows you to move either raven one space forward or backward. This is a good way to get over terrain for which you have no flight card, or to slow down your opponent. Other Odin cards let you modify the landscape by removing a card completely, rotating a card 180 degrees to change each path, or swapping two cards. This can be a powerful move, since a single flight card allows movement over a connected set of similar terrain. For example, if I can manage to chain together three forests by use of Odin cards, I can fly over all three with a single forest flight card. The remaining Odin card allows you to place an "Odin's Marker" in front of your opponent's raven, blocking their way. This must be removed before that raven can move again, and when played at the right time it can change the balance of power considerably.
Two other mechanics add spice to the game and lengthen it. After each play, a player can choose to lengthen the course by a single land card. With 40 land cards in the deck, races can get very long indeed as a typical strategy will be to lengthen the course when you're behind in order to have more time to catch up. Another feature is called the "Magic Way". These are represented in a set of seven special cards, set to the side of the race course. Each Magic Way card shows either two landscapes or one landscape and a picture of Odin. Controlling the Magic Way is worth three points when the race ends, and this can be significant. The Magic Way rules have been a source of confusion for the game, since the English edition offered a simple and less effective method for control. In these rules, a flight or Odin card can be played to physically take the Magic Way card and then reveal the next. Whichever player held more cards at the race end gets the three points, but in most games this quickly devolves into grabbing Magic Way cards in order to get four before the other guy, guaranteeing three points.
The since-corrected way is to "bid" for a single Magic Way card during each race. As one of the cards played on a turn, players can place cards next to the Magic Way card as long as it matches the land type and/or Odin picture. When the race ends, whoever has bid more for the card gets the three points. This works better. Either way, it seems as if the Magic Way cards were added after the original design but played properly they add a nice strategic element to the game and can make the card play more interesting.
Odin's Ravens is an interesting game that plays well but is a bit long for what you get. People have posted variants to shorten the play, but the easiest would simply be to play to a lower total or limit the course extension somewhat. The game moves quickly and turns don't take long, so this is not a serious issue. More important is the fact that there are good strategic decisions to make, especially in the card management, and there are enough variables to change the balance of power. This is a nice addition to the Kosmos series and a promising release from Herr Gimmler; let's hope for more in the upcoming year.