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Siege of Valeria Review, a single player dice game set in the Valeria universe

We are big Valeria fans here at Tabletop Bellhop and have been working through their latest releases, a set of three small box games which includes their first single player board game, Siege of Valeria

Can you defend the southern border of Valeria in this solo board game set in the Valeria Universe? 

Disclosure: Thanks Daily Magic Games for sending us copies of all three of their new small box games to check out. No other compensation was provided. Links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Prefer video? Here is a link to the segment from our podcast episode where we reviewed this game. I use the show notes to compose these written reviews. The content and talking points are pretty much the same, but if you prefer to watch or listen instead of reading, you can head over here:  VIDEO Siege of Valeria solo game review on YouTube

What you get with Siege of Valeria from Daily Magic Games

The Siege of Valeria BoxSiege of Valeria was designed by friend of the show Glenn Flaherty, better known by some as the dude behind Board Games and Bourbon. It features artwork from The Mico and was published in 2022 by Daily Magic Games after a very successful Kickstarter.

This single player game takes under an hour to play, even for your first learning game, and gets quicker with each future play as you get used to the cards and mechanics. It’s recommended for ages eight and up, which seems about right, though it does depend on the eight year old. This isn’t a light game, and there is quite a bit to keep track of. 

It’s worth noting that this solitaire game was a 2022 Golden Geek Best Solo Game Nominee.

Siege of Valeria is a card and dice driven, castle defence board game where you must defend a fortress at Valeria’s southernmost border from hordes of monsters and their nasty siege engines. Defeat wave after wave of enemies by combining your dice rolls with earned cards in an effort to destroy the last siege engine before a section of your wall falls or you are completely overwhelmed by foes. 

Check out the components in this single player Valeria game on our Siege of Valeria Unboxing Video on YouTube.

In this small box, you will find a clear and concise rulebook with lots of detailed examples and reference information for every card in the game. You will also find a ton of square cards representing the evil hordes and their siege engines, smaller event and champion cards, a long skinny board, a variety of different wooden tokens, and a rather large number of custom dice in two colours. 

What you get with Siege of Valeria the first solo Valeria board game.

The component quality in Siege of Valeria is great. The iconography used is very clear and the various wooden tokens each have a unique shape that makes them easy to tell apart. The shapes and colours of these tokens match the shapes and symbols used in previous Valeria games, which is something I really appreciate. 

Not only does this tie individual games in the series together, but it also means that your knowledge from one game can carry over into another. 

One small bonus here, that I personally really liked, is the custom dice. These dice are standard six-sided dice, with the numbers one to six and opposite sides that add up to seven, but they have the cool bonus of having pips that are actually small symbols that match the iconography and tokens in the game. 

This made me wish Dice Kingdoms of Valeria had done the same, but I do appreciate it here.

The only thing I would change with the components for Siege of Valeria is that I would have made the card text on the square cards a bit bigger. While I love the focus on The Mico’s artwork, I did have a hard time reading some of the cards without picking them up. 

 

Siege of Valeria Overview of Play

One of the many Siege Engines in Siege of Valeria the board gameA game of Siege of Valeria is won by defeating every card in the Siege Engine deck. This includes the ones that start out on the table at the beginning of the game as well as those still in the deck that will come out during play. This has to be done before any Siege Engines reach your walls, any of your turrets fall, or the enemy troop deck runs out.

The first step in setting up the game is to build the battlefield. This is done by laying out the board, shuffling the troop deck and removing two cards from that deck (and from the game). You deal two of these troop cards to yourself to form your starting hand and then you build a four by five grid out in front of the board from the remaining cards. You will end up with four individual cards lined up above each of the five turrets on the board.

Once all the initial Troop cards are placed, you shuffle the siege engine deck and deal out five of these at the top of each column. The champion and event decks are shuffled and you then sort the dice.

A game of Siege of Valeria set up and ready to play.At the start of a game of Siege of Valeria, you only get five red, soldier dice and 2 blue holy dice. The rest of the dice are put off to the side where you can earn them later. You can also put all of the tokens off to the side for now.

Each round starts with you rolling all of your earned dice. Note you don’t get to spend any of them yet, you first have to deal with the Siege Engine cards in play. Each of these cards lists five different ranges on them. At each range is a number which represents how much power you need to defeat the Siege Engine at that range. A Siege Engine is considered in range if the range it is currently at is highlighted on its card.

Any Siege Engines that are in range do some form of terrible nastiness to you. These include things like causing you to lose dice from your just rolled dice pool, rolling down some of those dice to lower numbers, re-rolling high value dice, damaging your turrets and more.

One of the event cards from Siege of Valeria the single player board game.Assuming you survive the siege engine assault, you then flip over the top Event Card and resolve it. The rulebook suggests skipping these events for your first few games, which makes sense as most of them are negative effects that make the foes you are facing even tougher. Events do all kinds of things. For example, they can affect your dice, give bonuses to cards in play, or give you a one time bonus, and more.

After the Event Card is resolved you finally get to start fighting back. This is done by spending dice from your dice pool and playing cards from your hand. You will be doing this to defeat Troop and Siege Engine Cards.

 

To defeat a card you need to spend die pips on any number of dice you want, so that the total is equal to or higher than your target’s Cost to Defeat. Any power tokens you have earned can be spent to add one to your total. Also, cards in your hand can be spent to add pips, re-roll dice, double die numbers, and more. Some enemies are Magical Troops which require that you spend at least one blue Holy Die in order to defeat them. Otherwise, blue dice can be spent to add to any red die total but blue dice can’t be spent on their own.

Trying to decide what to do on my turn in a game of Siege of Valeria from Daily Magic GamesWhen attacking, unless you have a card that says otherwise, you can only attack troops that are in the front row, closest to the castle walls. Siege engines can be attacked at any time, though they generally get easier to defeat the closer they get to your walls. When you defeat any enemy you get to take that card into your hand where it can be spent at any time, even right after you take it.

Some cards also give you an immediate bonus when you defeat them. These include gaining strength or magic tokens to boost your attacks, defeating additional adjacent enemies, or, in the case of siege engines, earning a Champion. Champions represent powerful heroes fighting on your side.

When you gain a champion you draw the top card from the Champion deck and then place it into one of the five turrets on the board. Each slotted champion gives you some type of powerful ability. Most of these can only be used once per turn.

A champion card from Siege of Valeria a solo board gameIn addition to giving you a new ability, any champion can be spent to remove an impact token from the turret they are placed in. However, this removes the champion from play. Also, turrets that have taken three Impact damage can’t hold champions and if a turret with a champion in it takes its third hit that champion is lost.

After you are done spending all of your dice and cards and activating any champions you wish to.  The Vanguard attacks. The Vanguard is comprised of any cards still left in the first row just outside your walls. Each card in the Vanguard does one impact damage to the turret it is in front of and is then discarded. If any single turret takes its fourth impact damage, you lose the game.

Once the Vanguard is cleared, the enemies advance. All existing cards on the battlefield slide down towards your walls as far as they can. After the advance, it’s time to add new troops.

The enemy advance at the end of a round of Siege of Valeria a solitaire board gameAny column without a Siege Engine gets a new one drawn from the deck and added to the back row. Four new troops are drawn from the deck and added to the battlefield. Any troops that don’t fit are discarded but remember that if you run out of troops to draw, you lose the game.

Finally, newly added siege engines in the back row slide up, so there are no gaps.

That finishes off the round. Assuming you haven’t lost, play then continues to the next round, with you rolling all of your dice again and repeating the steps above until you either defeat the last Siege Engine or your castle falls.

 

Who should enjoy Siege of Valeria?

Playing a round of Siege of Valeria from Daily Magic GamesSiege of Valeria is a straightforward game that does a solid job of recreating the tension I imagine is part of a siege. This is not an easy game and you can expect to lose for your first few plays. Even when you do manage to win it always feels close and I’ve found that every game has come down to a make it or break it moment. 

I feel solo and co-ooperative games need to be just hard enough. Most games should be close, where you lose but if you had just done one thing differently you may have won. You want that loss to drive you to play again. I’ve found that players quickly get bored of games you can win too easily, but they are just as likely to quit if they feel there was no chance at all. I feel Siege of Valeria hits this sweet spot of “not too hard not too easy” perfectly. 

Despite a solid fantasy theme, Siege of Valeria is a very abstract game overall. It is a math heavy game that is all about puzzling out the best way to combo your dice and your cards to simultaneously take out the siege engines and to also mitigate the damage being done to your turrets. It’s about figuring out when and what to sacrifice, what to spend and what to save. 

Taking out the troops in the Vanguard in this game of Siege of ValeriaWhat I found most interesting here was the hard choice between letting troops in the Vanguard crash against the walls and using up my dice to take them out to prevent that.

I also liked the decision of what to take out based on what it would do for me once in my hand. Every die spent taking out a troop is a die that isn’t being spent on a Siege Engine, but often the bonus you get for taking out a troop will be worth it in the end. This is especially true for any troops that give you more dice in your pool. 

There are often points where there is no easy decision, and due to the number of cards in the deck and the randomness of the draw, what is the right move in one game may not be in the next. This variability adds a lot of replayability to Siege of Valeria

One of the keys to playing Siege of Valeria well is getting to know the cards so you know what may be coming up. Also learning what each troop can do and what reward you get will help you both tactically and strategically. Perhaps more importantly you need to pay careful attention to the abilities of the Siege Engines. 

A loss for me in this game of Siege of ValeriaDon’t be discouraged if you lose your first couple of games quickly. Learning what to expect is part of the game and your play will improve as you gain mastery over what cards are in the decks. Another option is to take some time to sit down and read through all of the cards before a play, though that may ruin the element of suspense and surprise while playing. 

My biggest complaint about Siege of Valeria is how much you have to keep track of. Both in regards to the amount of things you have to keep in mind while taking your turn, and also the way you need to manage the physical components of the game. This game takes up a lot of space and you will be dealing with a lot of cards. Cards which have their own icons, power levels and abilities. Then you have various dice pools that you have to manage and manipulate, being careful not to mix your used dice with your unused dice or your unearned dice. Once things get going, various tokens will enter play and you have to also remember to move them as necessary and to use the ones you’ve earned. 

 

I think the term fiddly fits Siege of Valeria quit well. 

Strength tokens make Troops more powerful in Siege of Valeria

Another aspect of Siege of Valeria is that it did start to feel repetitive after a relatively small number of plays. It didn’t take me very long to become familiar with all of the cards in the deck and to get a basic idea of which to expect to see more often than others. While the randomness of the deck did mean that no single strategy would work every time, each round of the game does play out in a way that is very similar to the last. 

For me, this game turned into something that I would play at most twice in a row. If I won my first game I would pack it up and put the game away, happy with my victory. If I lost, I would feel compelled to try again and play a second game. However, after that second game, I was usually done, whether I won or lost. 

I have seen other players note that they found the same thing and those same people have all recommended the Siege of Valeria: Campaign Expansion to add more replayability. While I do have that expansion I haven’t tried it yet as I wanted to be able to base this review just on the core game box. 

My hand in a game of Siege of ValeriaThat said, you have to take all of my complaints with a grain of salt because I’m not a solo gamer. I’ve never been a solo board gamer. If it’s just me and there’s no one else to play with I’m going to go online and play a video game instead of breaking out a solo board game like Siege of Valeria. It’s very likely that someone who truly enjoys solo board gaming won’t mind the fiddliness, will enjoy the system mastery required to play well, and will enjoy playing repeatedly until they win during a single game session. 

Overall, even as someone who doesn’t normally enjoy single player games, I found Siege of Valeria to be a solid solo game experience. It is just difficult enough to make you want to keep trying when you fail and manages to feel rewarding when you win. I found it to be a bit fiddly for my tastes. However, I did appreciate that this is a dice driven game that doesn’t feel overly random, due to the number of ways you can manipulate the dice through card play. 

If you enjoy solo gaming you are probably going to want to pick up Siege of Valeria. It’s a solid, dice driven, tower defence board game that rewards multiple plays. If you like puzzles, and trying to figure out the best possible card and dice combos, you will love the core mechanics in Siege of Valeria.

I'm so close to winning Siege of Valeria a single player board game from Daily Magic GamesIf you don’t normally enjoy playing games on your own, I don’t know if this game could win you over. I did find it more entertaining and engaging than some solo games I’ve tried but I would still rather play a multiplayer game over this and the Valeria series offers me plenty of options there.

If you enjoy the Valeria series of games in general, and you don’t own Siege of Valeria yet, it’s probably worth picking this up. There’s enough going on here, between The Mico’s art, the standard strength and magic resources, the familiar champions and monstrous hordes, and of course the spending of dice, to make Siege of Valeria feel like a Valeria game, though one with a slightly different taste.

 

Now that you are done reading about Siege of Valeria I invite you to check out my reviews of the other Valeria Small Box Games: Thrones of Valeria a trick-taking card game, and Dice Kingdoms of Valeria a fantasy roll and write.

Each of these games is very different from each other. I’ve found it quite interesting watching Daily Magic Games expand the Valeria Universe to include a variety of different game types. Continuing the trend, the latest Valeria game, Castellans of Valeria (coming to Kickstarter in June) is an Area Majority game, as you can read about in my Castellans of Valeria Preview.

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