Endless Pass: A Viking Saga Review
Quick Glance: Endless Pass: A Viking Saga by Wizkids
Game Type: Card Game
Number of Players: 2-6
Mechanics: Hand management, press your luck, variable player powers
Introduction/Overview: When I think of Vikings, I tend to think of brave warriors in giant boats sailing the seas and pillaging villages. In Endless Pass, designed by Nuria Casellas, you battle against giant mythic monsters and sometimes even other Vikings. For all that build up, the game behind the theme doesn’t feel quite as epic. Does Endless Pass rise above these quirks and ascend to glory in Valhalla? Let’s take a look in the box.
Gameplay: Turns in Endless Pass are pretty simple. You have a choice to either search the pass (in order to get more/better items or fight Endless) or Hide. You have to have a Hide card to hide...so that’s only really a choice every once in a while. Hiding also allows you to reverse the direction of play if you choose.
You then have to draw a number of card equal to your speed from the Pass deck (this can be modified by you or other players with Speed cards). If you draw item cards, you simply add them to your hand. If you draw Endless, you put them on the table in front of you. You must now deal with the Endless.
Each Endless in front of you must be dealt with each turn. You have several choices in how to deal with them based on the cards in your hand. There are some ways to kill them and a couple ways to avoid them. Each Endless you kill gets you 1 Glory. If you make it to 10 Glory and survive your turn, you win! Each Endless you simply fend off or run away from gets passed to the next player. If you can’t defend the Endless attack, you take 1 damage for each one you can’t deal with, and then they get passed on to the next player as well.
You then get the opportunity to attack your fellow Vikings! And you thought you were all together in this battle against the Endless. If you happen to still have any attack cards in your hand, you can choose to attack another player. First, you choose if it’s a battle for Glory or Health. If you have a sword, you can attack just the players on either side of you. If you have some Greek Fire, you can attack anyone. But beware! It’s possible for them to block your attack, and possibly even counterattack. Once everyone has run out of attack and defense cards they wish to play, whoever came out victorious gets 1 Health or Glory, depending on what was bet at the start of the battle, and the loser loses the same amount. The attacking player then gets to replenish their hand of action cards to their listed hand size. The defending players do not get to refresh before their turn. A well timed attack just before a bad Pass draw can devastate a player very quickly.
Rulebook: The rulebook does its job well. The included player aids do most of the heavy lifting in the game, but the rulebook is laid out well enough that any questions are simple to answer quickly. There is one part of the game I’m not too fond of (Viking Battle), but I’ll talk more about that in my final thoughts.
Theme: I’m starting to get a little weary of Viking themed games. Still, Vikings are pretty cool. Jorgunmander (the serpent God on the back of the action cards, and the big bad guy in the game) is also very cool, I’ll give them points for using this theme rather than just a generic plundering one.
Set-Up/Takedown: Endless Pass sets up fairly quickly. There are two decks of cards to shuffle, and players have to decide whether to play the basic game or advanced. Advanced isn’t really all that difficult, and the player powers do give the game a jolt it needs. I wouldn’t play more that a hand or two of the basic game.
Components: The highlight for me in this game is the card art by Craig Petersen. It all has kind of a mid-1980s comic book vibe to it. There is no text on any of the cards, so the images have to be clear, and here the game shines. The quality of the boards and cards is decent enough. The cards feel a little thin, but they aren’t so bad that I feel like I need to sleeve them to avoid damage.
Solo-Play: No, although I do feel as though a solo mode could be made with a little work.
Final Thoughts: I feel like I’m missing something in Endless Pass. I haven’t enjoyed my plays of it very much at all, but I’ve looked at other reviews, and they tend to be much more positive. The groups I have played this with have called it Viking Uno. If you don’t have the right cards at the right time, there is just nothing you can do but twiddle your thumbs and die. If you do have the right cards, you’ll win.
I’ve not found the ability to attack the other Vikings to be very interesting because players very rarely have more than 3-4 cards in their hands at a time, so battles are usually “I attack you!” “I block and hit back.” “I’m out of cards.” End scene
I will say that I think the game is better with more players. With more players, you have more action cards around the table, so there’s a better chance to keep the number of Endless down at a manageable level for longer. This can allow a little more interplay and attacking between players, but even then, I’ve found that people tend to not want to attack each other. They’d rather just save up their cards in case things get out of hand on their next turn.
For me, Endless Pass: A Viking Saga is a pretty big miss. The biggest thing for me is that I read a lot about this having a strong push your luck aspect, and I just haven’t found there to be enough important choices to make the game intriguing. I have felt that even at its best, Endless Pass feels like it largely plays itself. I do dig the art, and wish there was more of it.