#969 – Viking See-Saw [Preview]

Base price: ~$18.
2 – 4 players.
Play time: ~10 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Check it out on Kickstarter!
Logged plays: 4

Full disclosure: A preview copy of Viking See-Saw was provided by itten. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game. 

We interrupt this program to bring you a special preview, I guess? I wasn’t planning on publishing this but one thing led to another and I just happened to be in the right place to drop this review ahead of the Kickstarter launch, this week. One of my absolute favorite publishers, itten, is dropping a new series of portable games called the Funbrick Series, and it hits Kickstarter this week! Naturally, that’s the kinda thing that I have to check out, so here we are. Let’s see what’s going on with Viking See-Saw, one of the Funbrick Series titles!

In Viking See-Saw, players have gotten themselves a glorious amount of treasure! The problem is, there’s only so much boat to go around. Now, balance your spoils against the swaying of the boat on the sea to make sure you can claim as much as you’re owed. Naturally, the greatest leader will be able to keep the most treasure on the boat (or successfully load up before everyone else). Will you be able to maintain your balance?

Contents

Setup

So, you’re going to start out by placing the ship in the middle of the play area, sticking the flag in the center:

Then, distribute the cargo among the players, depending on your player count:

  • 3 / 4 players: 2 Gold Cubes, 2 Silver Cubes, 1 Iron Ball, 1 Glass Ball, 1 Viking
  • 2 players: 4 Gold Cubes, 4 Silver Cubes, 2 Iron Balls, 2 Glass Balls, 2 Vikings

The chests get placed on the ship! Put them in the cabins, towards the center. You should place the remaining chest on one side or the other, tilting the boat down. Put your cargo inside of one of the “Stock Areas” (official board gamer hair ties). You should be ready to start!

Gameplay

A game of Viking See-Saw is very simple. I’ll explain. Your goal is to get your ship filled with cargo, but as it rocks and tilts, you might lose some things! That’s less good.

On your turn, you need to add one piece of cargo from your Stock Area to the currently-up side of the ship. If you knock anything off the boat, it gets placed in your Stock Area. If you knock anything into the Cabin, replace it. If the ship tilts, you must take one chest from the Cabin and add it to your Stock Area. You can place chests on subsequent turns.

That’s about it! The game ends as soon as all the chests have been taken or as soon as any player’s Stock Area has been depleted. The player with the fewest items remaining in their Stock Area wins!

Player Count Differences

I wouldn’t say there are a ton of player differences, here, since it’s a stacking game and you only sort-of-directly interact with other players. There’s some strategy to different player counts, though. With fewer players, there’s some idea that you shouldn’t just play like a nightmarish goblin, since if your opponent survives your attempts to tip the ship, it comes back around to you pretty quickly. With more players, you can play extremely dangerously, stacking things precariously, knowing full well that it’s likely not going to last enough to be your problem. It’s very fun, but it can be frustrating if you happen to sit after a player who has chosen to be a gremlin and just stack everything extremely precariously. If that happens, I generally recommend swapping the player order between games to prevent some level of exasperation. That said, I still subscribe to the idea that you should make your stacking as precarious and dangerous as possible, so I still play like a gremlin at two players (and at three and four). I really like the tension of the back-and-forth of two players, though I’ll admit Viking See-Saw becomes more like a fun party game with more players. I’d slightly prefer two, as a result, but I’d happily play at three or four.

Strategy

  • I try to get rid of the most difficult to place tokens first. For me, this is usually the iron balls, but it could be the gems or the gold blocks, as well, depending on the current state of the ship. The more trouble you think you’re going to have placing something later, the better it is to place it now. And some of the smoother / rounder pieces can be very hard to place later.
  • Even if you don’t do that, make sure you’re placing a variety of pieces so that you have options to work with later in the game. Unless you’re just leaving yourself with the lightest pieces, you really don’t want to get stuck with only one type of extremely heavy piece towards the end of the game, where the balance of the ship can be thrown off pretty easily.
  • Remember how see-saws and levers work. Physics can help you out a lot here. Generally speaking, you want to place things closer to the center of the ship if they’re heavier and you don’t want to tip it. Just keep in mind that some of the objects have weird shapes or can roll, so they may shift to a different place if you’re not careful. No matter what, you want to place objects on the ship. Don’t drop them; the extra momentum might tip the ship or jostle other objects off.
  • Try placing traps for other players! This is all about stacking up precarious piles of objects that are fundamentally unsustainable. If you can do it just right, they won’t fall until another player tries to interact with them. Sure, tipping the boat and gaining chests will end the game, but stalling your opponents by dumping all manner of items on them will also give you a pretty good edge.
  • Watch out for pieces having different textures! They may slide (or not) if you’re not careful, which might mess you up. Not all pieces have enough static friction to avoid sliding, so keep an eye out for that. Yes, the balls are going to roll as soon as you place them on top of anything, but the chests may slide off of the cubes (and vice-versa) depending on the height and angle of a stack. Testing it out isn’t too unsafe, but try not to tip a bunch of items off the ship while you do so.
  • If pieces are going to fall, hope they fall into the cabin; at least then you can replace them instead of having to take them. There’s some sense, to that end, in building up your stacks of items so that they tilt towards the center of the boat. That way, if the stack does tilt, the pieces fall towards the cabin rather than towards the edge of the boat. If they land in the cabin or on the other side, you still have a shot of replacing them.
  • Deep breaths when you place pieces! It stops your hand shaking. Learned that from doing photography. If you’re concerned about your shaking hands knocking other pieces off, try taking a deep breath and seeing if that calms your movements. You don’t really want to make any sudden moves when trying to place a small piece on a notoriously-unstable boat.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • Oh, everything is a different size or shape or density; love that. That makes for a really fun stacking game! We did kind of learn this the hard way, though. That made it … more fun? I appreciated finding out a cube was much heavier than I anticipated when I picked it up, but I had already committed to placing it. I think that having a nice range of sizes and shapes and densities makes for a bit of additional challenge that I find compelling.
  • It’s a very silly theme, which I enjoy. I mean, you’re just loading junk on an increasingly-creaky and tilty ship. Is it treasure? Yes. Was the real treasure friendship? Also yes.
  • The stacking and balancing is very fun. I just really enjoy stacking and balancing games. They tend to be fun and interactive while allowing players the freedom to learn new and interesting ways of setting their opponents up for failure. I like that there’s a “learn by doing” aspect to stacking and balancing games that lets players gradually get better, as well.
  • It’s impossible not to yell when the whole thing tips. It’s just surprising! In a “hey-oh” sort of way, I guess, but it’s a lot of fun.
  • I love this whole small-box trend, and I’m glad itten is going that route as well. I like games that are highly transportable! These are a bit long, granted, but I can still fit all five in the Funbrick series where I’d normally take one single box game, and I appreciate getting a bit more bang for my space buck.
  • It’s got fun box art. It’s cute, which is a nice fit for itten, but the white box style with some art on the front is also very clean, which I appreciate. The box as a whole looks super nice.
  • I find the “Stock Area” hair ties ingenious and hilarious. It seems a bit … janky, but it does work pretty well at keeping the pieces in their places and preventing too much rolling. Besides, you don’t really need to prevent the cubes from rolling; it’s mostly to hold the balls in place.
  • Quick to explain and quick to play; an ideal combo. You just stack pieces and take a chest when it tips. The only reason I even look at the rulebook anymore is to figure out how many of each piece players get at various player counts.

Mehs

  • It’s definitely a tight fit to get the game back in the box; you may need to get somewhat creative. They were not messing around; there’s not a ton of give inside of the box. Everything does fit, but it can be tight. Try to make sure to flatten all the components out to take up as little vertical space as possible, and that will go a long way.

Cons

  • The pieces are a bit … plain, to some degree? I would have liked to have seen some more fun designs on the tokens or something more in-theme. I think this is more of a “nice to have” than anything else, but it would have helped increase my immersion in the game, as a whole. Crash Octopus, for instance, did a nice job shaping the pieces to be on-theme; I would have liked to have seen a similar collection of pieces here.

Overall: 9 / 10

Overall, I’m enamored with Viking See-Saw! It might be my favorite of the Funbrick Series that I’ve played so far? So much so that I kind of hustled through several games of this, did the photography and the writeup, and got it published ahead of the launch! I think that Viking See-Saw does a great job representing the kinds of games and experiences that itten is shooting for when they publish games. It’s silly, it’s whimsical, it’s fun, and it’s easy to pick up and play. All good things! I was pretty sure they knocked it out of the park with Crash Octopus (and still am), but if you’re looking for a game that packages a similar level of entertaining dexterity in a much smaller package, Viking See-Saw is a nice choice as well. Big fan of a push towards smaller-footprint, highly-transportable games, and I love that whole thing. I particularly like that the component types are so different, both in terms of shapes and also in terms of weights, so you have to be very careful about what you place and when you choose to get rid of certain things so you’re not just stuck with tokens that will tip the boat every time you place them. I would have liked to see items that were a bit more thematic in the vein of Crash Octopus, but, the game sticking with fairly basic shapes is probably wise from a stacking and balance standpoint. Plus, I love a stacking and balance game, myself, so this is another great one for the collection (and probably my favorite in terms of enjoyment-to-size ratio). If you’re interested in a highly-transportable little game, you love stacking and balancing, or you are a die-hard itten fan, as well, I’d definitely recommend Viking See-Saw! I’ve had a blast with it.


If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s