Blood of the Northmen is a 1-4 players tile laying and area majority game by Carl Chudyk, in which you play as a Viking jarl, vying for domination over the land of Bjarmia. The Kickstarter campaign for its expansion, Test of Faith, alongside a reprint of the base game is live and it will run for another 13 days. You may pledge for the expansion or the base game, or both.
In the solo mode, you play against an automaton. You start the game with 12 warriors on your personal board. Each turn, you must place a hexagonal tile on the growing map, so that it is adjacent to two existing tiles, and their edges match. Mountains are an exception, as they can be placed adjacent to any other tile, except a road.
You then take actions depending on the edge types of your terrain tile: for each edge, starting with forest, then lake, road, and finally mountain, you take the corresponding action. With a Forest action, you place a warrior pawn on the tile you have just placed. With a Lake action, you can move a pack of warriors from one tile to another, or across a lake. With a Road action, you can move a pack of warriors along a road. Finally, with a Mountain action, you initiate a battle on a disputed tile. Some tiles also feature a town, of which there are four different types, and that allows the player to take an action specific to that town.
When engaging in battle, you reveal one tile for each of your warrior pawns, plus one if you initiated the battle. The revealed tiles may come from your hand or from the deck. You then sum up the number of mountain edges on these tiles to get your battle strength. Then the opponent does the same: the automaton may have reserved cards for this purpose, and will draw from the deck instead. Whoever gets the highest battle strength (even in case of a tie) scores one victory point. If there is only one victor, they may also add a warrior pawn onto the tile.
Then comes the automaton turn. You simply flip a tile from the deck. All tiles are numbered from 1 to 120, and the number on the tile corresponds to the action the automaton will take on their turn, as specified in a comprehensive list of the 120 different actions in the rulebook.
There are two ways to win: by scoring six victory points, or by having a warrior pawn on all four different types of towns so that they are all connected by roads. Roads that open towards the edge of the map are considered as connected through each other. You lose if the automaton gets six victory points before you do, or if the deck gets depleted.
The Test of Faith expansion comes with extra new modules. In particular, it adds churches, that, once placed in a town, prevent the occurrence of any battle there, and three new specific units: hersirs, which are recruited through road actions and bring additional victory points if they survive battles; longships, that are recruited through lake actions, can partake in battles along the edge of a lake, and offer the opportunity to “explore” the lake with one further tile during the player’s turn and grant a victory point; catapults, that are recruited through mountain actions and can initiate ranged conflicts from one tile to an adjacent one. In a ranged conflict, only catapults allow the players to draw tiles, so you can crush a defenseless enemy warband in this way.