Yggdrasil iOS (iPad) Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 8.2
Sound 7.5
Value 8.0
Distributor: iTunes
Review Date:
July 2012
Reviewer:
Ho Wong

8.0


Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil is a board game that has gained a cult following for its interesting inspiration (Norse mythology) and being one of the few cooperative board games out there. (Cooperative board games, for the uninitiated is where all players work together for a mutual goal and either all win or lose).  Interestingly enough, Yggdrasil the board game and the iPad game are released by Ludonaute, a young french outfit.  This allows a faithful conversion to the iPad but does pose certain problems as can be seen later.

As mentioned before, Yggdrasil takes its name and inspiration from Norse Mythology where the great Ash tree Yggdrasil harbours the different worlds of existence.  The evil enemies (Nidhogg, Surt, Heimdall, Fenrir, Jormungand, Loki) are advancing on Odinís House and you take control of six gods as you try to fight them off.  If the enemies reach Odinís House (or a certain number make it past some points along the way), they will bring on Ragnarok and the end of the world.  As each enemy advances, you use the active god to perform three actions in different worlds. You can get the Valkyrie to reap viking souls from the islands underneath that you can then use during your die roll against the enemies.   You can get the Elves to forge a weapon which can be added onto die rolls.  You can try to defeat an enemy and make it move a step backwards.  There are nine actions in total and can be generally categorised as gathering items to affect die rolls, defeating enemies, trading amongst the gods or the preparation of these actions.

Each enemy will bring with them their own special actions as they move forward.  Fenrir needs to be calmed before any other actions can be taken, wasting your precious turns for each unsuccessful attempt.  Nidhogg advances the furthest-behind enemy along.  Loki enlists the power of the Giants and each Giant has its own debilitating powers that need to be defeated.  The enemies do get stronger as they advance so it is advantageous to try to stop enemies advancing too far along as they become too powerful.

As far as board game conversions go, Yggdrasil is eye-catching and matches the board game perfectly,  a testament to the care that Ludonaute have put into making an accurate reproduction.   The game though looks great and follows the art of the board game closely.   Yggdrasil runs through the centre of the screen, its branches holding up the world of the elves and Odinís House, the islands running around its trunk and the worlds of fire and the dead tangled around its roots.  The screen perfectly matches the beautifully painted board.  A lot of the statuses are represented by symbols (for instance, each of the Godsí/Enemiesí/Giantsí special powers are represented by tiny symbols as well as each of the actions).  For a beginner to the game, it serves as a very concise but terse display.

Each world has a hotspot onscreen that requires several taps to accomplish an action.  I just feel that a lot of the iPadís intuitiveness is diminished as many opportunities for dragging as well as saving on the number of taps is lost - the fluidity of the game would have been much improved if not for the slight awkwardness of the controls.

In terms of difficulty, Yggdrasil throws you into the thick of it.  The initial instructions are not particularly helpful as they talk about bags, cards and tokens - it does seem that they are  based entirely on the instruction booklet for the board game and possibly even a scan.  The instructions are just not intuitive, clear nor flowing.  Luckily there is a tutorial, but many users will need to resort to the internet to get a clearer picture on how the game is played.  The game is difficult to master, as it does require constant population control of the islands, careful use of each of the Gods and their special powers and overcoming the different enemies/giants as they pop up. I thought the game was pretty difficult to master but still very entertaining.  You do get the feeling, as Ragnarok approaches, as the enemies get stronger and as the Giants come out that it is the end of the world, with the weight of the world against you, it gets more and more difficult to find the best action to take.

Difficulty can be increased by adding more enemy cards to the pile and you can also unlock different Gods (equivalent to an expansion pack in the board game) after a few wins.  Due to the steep learning curve, Yggdrasil will not be to everyoneís taste and does require a lot of patience.  It does reward though with one of the better hard-to-master thinking-manís board games out there.  Although for the impatient amongst you, it will punish.

 






 
 



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