Hall of Heroes is the first expansion for the Viking themed board game Raiders of the North Sea. Note you do need a copy of Raiders of the North Sea from Renegade Game Studios to use this boardgame expansion.
This board game expansion allows you to play Raiders of the North Sea with a fifth player as well as adding a new mead hall board, player boards for all player counts, a new quest and reputation system and a number of new townsfolk cards.
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What is Raiders of the North Sea: Hall of Heroes all about?
Raiders of the North Sea: Hall of Heroes was designed by the original designer of Raiders of the North Sea: Shem Phillips and continues to feature the artwork of Mihajlo Dimitrievski (aka The Mico). It was published in North America by Renegade Game Studios in partnership with Garphill Games in 2018.
This expansion adds a new section (the Mead Hall) to the mainboard, along with new actions, a quest and reputation system, a new resource (Mead) and a number of new townsfolk cards, some featuring new abilities. In addition, it also includes the components to add a fifth player to the game and player boards that can be used at all player counts.
A copy of Raiders of the North Sea is required to use all of this content. It’s also worth noting that this is not a modular expansion. You are expected to add all of the new components and rules to your existing game of Raiders of the North Sea, so you cannot, for example, add just the new Townsfolk cards and not the Quests.
For a look at what you get in this expansion box, check out my Raiders of the North Sea Unboxing Video on YouTube.
Before opening the box, you will note that when you first get this game expansion the box isn’t fully shut. This is due to the fact there are a number of punch boards included and once these are punched the box lid will fit snugly.
The rules for Hall of Heroes feature a nice large font, single-column layout and lots of examples. Despite featuring a number of changes to the base game, the rules only take up eight pages one of which is just a reference page highlighting the new icons used for this expansion.
Beneath the rules, you will find three punch boards containing the new quest tiles, reputation tiles and multiplier tiles for use if you somehow run out of gold or provisions while playing. These are all well cut and of good thickness.
The majority of the box is taken up by six single fold mounted player boards. Note this expansion only allows you to bring Raiders of the North Sea up to five players, but there are six player boards, which accounts for another increase in the player count if you also get the Fields of Fame expansion. These player boards give you a place to put your cards and organize your tableau while playing and include a reputation based scoring track that is new to this expansion.
The game also includes a new Mead Hall expansion for the mainboard. This new board sits under the existing board when playing and gives players expanded options.
In the box you will also find a bunch of wooden mead tokens, a total of 40 of them, as well as five more wooden gold resources, plus one new black worker meeple and three purple scoring markers that are used when playing five players.
Lastly, we have a significant stack of cards. This expansion comes with thirty new townsfolk cards, one new ship card (for the fifth player) and three reference cards. I’m not sure why they only did three reference cards and not five. These cards all match the quality of the original game.
What does Hall of Heroes add to Raiders of the North Sea?
The most basic addition in Raiders of the North Sea: Hall of Heroes is the components which add a fifth player to the game. You get purple scoring markers, a new boat, and a new black worker. These all match what you already have in the base game but in a new colour.
There is a rule change when playing with five players that takes part during set up, instead of just getting random starting Townsfolk you introduce a drafting mechanic. Players are given five townsfolk and pick one to hire for free. They then pass two of their remaining cards, one to the left and one to the right.
The next simple addition is the thirty new Townsfolk cards, you just shuffle these in with the existing townsfolk cards.
Then we have Mead. Mead is earned in the Mead Hall as well as through some of the new Townsfolk card actions. At any time when raiding, before rolling the dice players can spend Mead. Each Mead spent gives the player one Military Strength for that raid only.
The rest of the new things in Hall of Heroes are interconnected and include a number of new options for players.
The first action is “Charm the Crowd.” Select one of the Townsfolk cards on display in the Mead Hall and add it to your hand. Also, collect any coins and/or Mead shown on the board above this recruited Viking.
The second action is “Comlpete A Quest”
With Hall of Heroes every time any player completes a raid, after taking the plunder from the raided location you place a Quest token onto that location. Each quest has a required Military Strength listed on it, shows a picture denoting the quest type and lists rewards earned for completing the quest.
When taking a Complete A Quest action a player picks a quest on the board and then discards Townsfolk from their hand to get up to the required Military Strength on the Quest tile. All of this Military Strength has to come from cards in hand. Mead may not be used and the player’s armour level does not help.
Once a quest is completed the player takes the rewards and places the quest at the top of their player board. If you complete three quests of the same type you may also claim a reputation tile from the Mead Hall. Each of these reputation tiles gives players a one-time bonus action. The bonuses are things like play a Townsfolk without paying their cost.
Earned Reputation tiles are also added to the top of the player board. At the end of the game, players will receive victory points for how far along the track at the top of their boards they progress up to a maximum of sixteen points for ten tiles.
Is it worth adding Hall of Heroes to Raiders of the North Sea?
The first thing I thought when I read the rules for Raiders of the North Sea: Hall of Heroes was: “I knew there was some reason the raiding spots were shaped like that!” When I first started playing Raiders of the North Sea I thought it was odd that the spots you placed the resources in had a rather distinct not quite rectangular look and now I know why. It seems that this game was designed either at the same time as this expansion or at least with plans for an expansion.
Sticking with those plunder spots, let me start by discussing the new Quest system introduced in Hall of Heroes. Personally, I like it. I like that something else happens after a location is raided, something that gives players more options. I also like that the more raiding that happens the more quests that open up. This gives everyone in the game more ways to work towards getting victory points. It also adds a new mechanic of playing cards from your hands, adding another use to every Townsfolk card in the game. I personally tend to like having more options in games. As a big Stefan Feld fan, I enjoy a good point salad
The problem with this is that it takes focus away from the main theme of the game which is raidings. The game is called Raiders of the North Sea after all. Now it is possible to play the game and not actually do any raiding at all. While we have found over multiple plays that this may not be the most viable strategy, it is one that I have seen win the game before. Some of the people I played with did not like this new addition to the game and felt it watered down the theme and tightness of the base game.
The new Mead Resource has also proven to be popular. People like being able to stock up and use them to score big in raids that otherwise would be risky depending on a player’s current Military strength. This also had a side effect of speeding up the game slightly as players were able to complete the larger more difficult raids earlier in the game and we found the last Fortress Standing became the common game-ending condition over running out of Offerings or Valkyrie.
The one aspect of this expansion I did not really enjoy was playing the game with five players. Over multiple plays, I had decided that my favourite player count for the original Raiders of the North sea is three players. This expansion didn’t change that. When playing with four players there can be a bit more downtime than I would like due to AP (analysis paralysis), and this is exacerbated with the new play options included with Hall of Heroes. Once you get up to five players there’s even more time between turns.
I will note that I prefer four players with Hall of Heroes over the base game with four, this is due to the fact that competition for raiding spots gets very cutthroat with four players, and the new quest system in Hall of Heroes opens up options other than raiding so no player is ever stuck without anything they can do.
Overall, I personally really like every new gameplay element introduced in Hall of Heroes but that hasn’t been the case for everyone that I’ve played it with. While everyone loves having more Townfolk to pick from, a new way to draft those townsfolk and the effect mead has on the game, not everyone enjoys the quest and reputation system. What I didn’t feel was needed was the ability to play with five players, though I do understand many game groups are always pushing publishers for higher player counts in their games.
What this means to me is that Hall of Heroes is a try before you buy. For me, after one try I would have rushed out to buy the expansion right away, that’s not going to be the case for everyone though. Due to the fact that this expansion isn’t modular, you have to use every aspect of it together. So it may be worth seeing if your group is in favour of the broader gameplay options that Hall of Heroes offers before picking it up.
I was late to the party with Raiders of the North Sea and even later to the Hall of Heroes Expansion. At this point, I still haven’t had a chance to try the other Raiders of the North Sea expansions. What’s a game or expansion that has been out for some time that you only discovered recently? Let us know in the comments!