As a child I loved the plastic multi-colored bowling pin set that my brothers and I would play with for hours on end. We’d take turns setting up the pins and knocking them down with the plastic bowling balls. Sadly, none of us grew up to become bowlers. I was reminded of our childhood games when Valley of the Vikings hit the table. 

Perhaps it’s some deep, primal urge that gives us joy whenever we roll a ball into a neatly lined-up set of things. Whatever the case may be, it’s captured brilliantly in Valley of the Vikings. This tabletop version of bowling is a silly yet surprisingly fun game. Containing just a smattering of strategy to keep it from becoming a mere knock-the-pins-down exercise.

Let’s Go Bowling

In Valley of the Vikings players take turns trying to knock down barrels and send their opponents into the water. When someone takes that dive, a scoring round happens and whatever spot your Viking is on will allow you to reap some kind of reward in the form of various amounts of gold coins. When the last coin is taken, then everybody counts theirs up and the most coins wins the game. 

On your turn, take the cardboard Viking and hit the ball towards the barrels in the middle of the board. You must take down at least one and if you whiff you’ll get another chance; after some heckling from your opponents, of course. 

The barrels that are knocked down are color-coordinated with the Vikings and you’ll choose the order in which they move along the pier. If another Viking is in the way, you’ll leap-frog it and if a Viking is moved off the pier into the water, a scoring round immediately happens. 

Scoring In Valley of the Vikings

All Vikings remaining on the pier will receive the coins indicated by their spot. There are three ways to gain coins. First, if you’re on a space that has icons of coins, you’ll collect that number from the supply. Second, if you’re on a space that matches another Viking you’ll take a coin from them. Finally, if you’re on a space that matches your Viking, then you collect one coin from each of your opponents. 

The game continues until all of the coins from the supply have been taken. The most coins wins.

Final Thoughts on Valley of the Vikings

Valley of the Vikings is a delight to play and its 20-minute game length is just right. Like other HABA games, the production value is out of this world. The artwork is fun and thematic and the components are sturdy and built to last many games of smacking that plastic ball on the table. 

While primarily geared towards younger and newer gamers, HABA’s games are always more fun than I expect. I still enjoy a game of Rhino Hero whenever somebody brings it to game night and its standalone sequel Super Rhino Hero is even better.

Verdict: Fun for the Whole Family

Valley of the Vikings is another HABA game to take a family-friendly game and make it into something that all gamers can enjoy. Those new to the table will find Valley of the Vikings a fun and easily approachable game. While gaming veterans will enjoy its relaxed game play that still manages to offer a bit of strategy. It’s not a deep or serious game, but it’s not meant to be. Like those childhood games of knocking down plastic bowling pins, Valley of the Vikings is straightforward fun.

Thanks to HABA for providing a review copy of Valley of the Vikings.

Ruel Gaviola is a regular contributor to Geek & Sundry, The Five By, iSlaytheDragon, and other sites. His name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. You can find him talking about board games on Twitter or Instagram.

For more on tabletop gaming, video gaming, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.