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Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Orlog Dice Game Review

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7/3/22                                   By Michael Smith                        Edited by Ashlea Blackett

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Assassin’s Creed has been a staple for the modern gaming community with its mixture of stealth, combat, and story driven gameplay. Players are immersed into history via interactions with important figures and landscapes, giving a large world to explore and learn about alongside the Assassin vs Templar storyline. Within these worlds players are exposed to the art, language, and culture of each location from Ancient Greece to Victorian London.

 

To better influence the player’s experience of being in the Golden Age of Pirates or Revolutionary America, the design team included playable iterations of historical games such as Liar’s Dice and Dead Man’s Morris. The latest example of this is in the 2019 release of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla where players were introduced to a new and original competitive dice game known as Orlog.

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Packaging

Players are introduced to this game via protagonist Eivor and meet various characters across Viking-era England that challenge her to this game consisting of alternating dice rolls, resource management, and the power of the Norse Gods. A game that can turn its favor in an instant of luck and strategy.

 

Orlog became an instant success with the player base as fans began replicating the game in the real world. This showed Ubisoft that they had an opportunity to create an actual version of the game and via the help of the gaming statue company PureArts this became a reality.

 

In the Spring of 2021, an exclusive limited Deluxe Edition of Orlog was created. A combination of wood, metal, and linen were used to design a tangible game, of which a limited 500 units were sold within Northern and Southern America. This did not take long to sell through and those that were lucky enough to claim one (myself included) would receive one of the most unique real world replicas of a video game asset.

 

However, fans from around the world who missed out on this purchase were upset that they were unable to buy this themselves and voiced their opinions across social media. With this spike of global interest, the PureArts team opened a Kickstarter to fund a retail version of the game for all fans regardless of geographical region.

 

On July 13, 2021, the Kickstarter for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Orlog Dice Game was launched and within 35 minutes met its goal of CA $75,000. By the end of the campaign, a total 12,409 backers had funded the campaign for a total of 1.1 million Canadian, unlocking multiple stretch goals and enhancing the base game (for the Kickstarter) to be nearly identical to the Deluxe Edition that had been sold earlier that year.

After a lengthy production process due to issues with materials, transportation, and the COVID-19 virus, PureArts began shipping Orlog to players around the world. I myself received mine within a few weeks of each other as they were shipped separately, the Deluxe Edition first and later the Kickstarter “Tavern Edition”, which included an exclusive resin replica of Eivor’s horn, used to call her raiding party as they invaded England.

 

The game is played in three phases after a coin-flip to determine the first player. In the first phase, much like the dice game Yahtzee, players alternate rolling six dice and selecting dice to attack, defend, or steal God Favour Tokens (GFT's) from the opponent in the hopes of lowering their opponent’s fifteen stone health pool to zero. This is followed by the players being able to use their collected GFT's via gold bordered dice sides and stealing from the opponent to activate a God Favour Card (GFC's) that can deal damage, heal, or even duplicate the dice they rolled to give a better advantage in the round. Once this is selected and the priority of the GFC's is played, the players enter the final round, the Resolution phase where the outcome of their dice rolls are matched against each other in a battle of axes, armour, arrows, and shields. The player that has depleted their opponent’s health to zero is declared the victor.

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I played both iterations of the Orlog release with my family to compare the quality of the Kickstarter enhanced retail version and the Deluxe Edition. Gameplay was easy to explain with the included instructions and a variety of game modes to alter the difficulty of the game. Within a few rounds, my fiancée, who is not a heavy gamer, shared how much she enjoyed the game.

 

I found myself surprised by my comparison and which aspects of each version I preferred over the other. So let's compare the Deluxe and the Kickstarter Editions as I determine which is the best Orlog release.

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To start, let's compare the boxes. The Kickstarter Edition was the standard Retail release of the game but with enhanced materials included (such as stones, tokens, and cards). The box itself has nice official game art and is themed to the Valhalla standard teal and black, detailing the contents of the game and a synopsis of how it is played; a traditional game packaging.

 

The Deluxe Edition came in a carved, individually numbered (1-500), wooden case that shows the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla logo within an intricate etched border and secured by a metal clasp. There is no further information on the game displayed on the box as it is a designer piece.


WINNER: Deluxe Edition - the beautiful wood box looks great on the shelf for collectors.

Storage

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The Retail Edition has a traditional plastic tray that houses the materials of the game. Each area is designed to hold half of the pieces divided between the players with a shared coin in the centre, making distributing the game pieces quick and easy.

 

The Deluxe Edition does the same but in a much more snug foam material.


WINNER: Retail Edition - the plastic, while a lesser quality than the foam, is much easier to remove the components from, as it has space to grab the pieces, whereas it takes more time to remove the wood and metal pieces from the foam of the Deluxe Edition.

Dice Bowls

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The dice bowls in the Retail and Kickstarter versions are made of plastic and detailed to look like wood. Due to the Kickstarter reaching a stretch goal of CA $575K, they were able to add a felt liner, as backers were concerned with the sound of dice hitting the plastic. While this is a nice addition, it is visible that the felt was not cut to size and looks poorly installed.

 

The Deluxe Edition bowl is real wood and has a great quality but doesn’t appear as defined in the detail as it was carved by machine and not by hand.

 

WINNER: Tied - While the wood of the Deluxe Edition is higher quality, the plastic bowl and felt liner have nice sound and feel when rolling the dice. I prefer the wood myself but wish it had the detail of the plastic.

Coin

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The Retail Edition of Orlog will include a cardboard coin (not shown) to determine player order. Both the Kickstarter (after meeting the CA $200K stretch goal), and the Deluxe Edition have a metal replica coin designed after the Silver from the game.


WINNER: Kickstarter/Deluxe Edition - The metal has a very nice weight and feel to it over the cardboard that I could compare from other pieces in the game.

God Favour Cards

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In my opinion, this is the biggest comparison between the game pieces of different versions of Orlog. In the Retail Edition, the GFC's are printed on cardboard showing great detail of a carved wood design and a cheat sheet of what each god does on the back.

 

For the Deluxe Edition, wooden GFC's are included to mirror those which are used in the video game version. Kickstarter backers were able to upgrade their GFC's to wood (CA $35) after feedback from the players influenced PureArts.

 

WINNER: Retail Edition - While the wood is nicer than the cardboard, it is very hard to see the image of each god in the Deluxe Edition, and requires the use of the included detail card that shows each GFC and what it does. Being able to flip over the card and read right away what it does is a plus.

God Favour Tokens

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Unlike the GFC', the tokens are instantly identifiable regardless of edition. The Kickstarter backers upgraded (CA $42) the Retail Edition’s cardboard tokens to the Deluxe Edition’s metal tokens. The only drawback to the metal tokens is that they have a finish to them that make them oily and hard to stack at times.


WINNER: Deluxe Edition - While the finish can be annoying at times, the metal tokens are very nice and look great. I love clinking them like poker chips when I play.

Dice

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Now this section isn’t as much of a comparison as both the Retail and Deluxe Editions of the Orlog dice are sold with the Bone Die option. With the Kickstarter, a stretch goal at CA $300k allowed backers to switch the base dice to a glow-in-the-dark option for free, or add them on at the end of the campaign for CA $15. However these dice though are difficult to read because of the golden borders. Alternatively, the green glittery dice or “Valhalla Dice” were sold as an add-on for CA $25.


WINNER: Kickstarter - Due to the options available, the Kickstarter was the best way to get dice. My personal favourite were the Valhalla Dice.

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Health Stones & Rules

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The original plan for Orlog was to include cardboard counters to track the health of each player, however after the Kickstarter reached its first stretch goal of CA $100K, the counters were upgraded to the higher quality polished stones of the Deluxe Edition. This success also allowed the retail edition to be shipped with these stones.

 

The linen bags with the Valhalla logo were included with the Deluxe Edition as well as the Kickstarter after its CA $250K stretch goal was reached. These are used to house the health stones in the packaging.

 

All versions come with an Instruction Guide and God Favor Cards Reference List.

Kickstarter Exclusive Items

With the exception of the play mat that was included in the Deluxe Edition, the Kickstarter campaign for Orlog offered multiple items for purchase via stretch goals or included with the Tavern Edition. The playmat (55 cm x 86 cm) was expanded in size after the CA $850k stretch goal and sold (for those that just backed the base game or wanted multiple mats) for CA $30. This is a beautiful mat that feels fitting for the historical setting.

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The main draw for the Tavern Edition of the Kickstarter campaign, and the reason I decided to purchase the game after buying the Deluxe Edition, was an exclusive Horn Replica from the game. Valued and sold for CA $185, the horn made the purchase of The Tavern Edition at $200 great value for money. Its quality of resin, cloth, and wooden base not only look fantastic on my shelf but actually allow you to blow the horn and call your party to the table.

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At CA $400K a tournament bracket and Orlog Champion Coin (based on the in-game achievement art) were provided to all backers.

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And at the CA $1M mark and final stretch goal, an exclusive art piece was provided to all backers. A great piece to wrap up the beautiful vision of this game coming to reality.

Edition Winner

The best value and version overall in my opinion would be the Kickstarter. Being able to upgrade the various game pieces on top of the Tavern Edition with the horn replica and playmat included, allowed users to have everything that the limited Deluxe Edition had except for the wooden box and bowls. This game as a whole is easy to play and easy to learn.

 

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Orlog Dice Game can be purchased from PlayArts, Ubisoft, and various retailers.

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Mike Smith is a collector of all things Assassin's Creed and a major supporter of the transmedia platform for the series.

 

With nearly a full library of Assassin's Creed media, he is exploring the universe in order of Genetic Memory, and waiting eagerly for the next story to be released.

Mike joined the program in 2021 as an Online Article Writer, and has a section dedicated to his work in the Community Hub.

Promotional image by PureArts