Thanks so much for the heads-up about this!
I have played about ten games, and I’m about to figure out the two “expansions” now. Which I suspect are really “the rest of the game”, as with Shadi Torbey’s designs.
I’m not sure how I feel about this being published by InPatience. On the one hand, I applaud them for giving designers the opportunity to publish their work, and I feel like Morten Monrad Pedersen has more than paid his dues by now. And I of course hope the game is wildly successful and everyone at InPatience gets filthy rich so they can publish ever more games! But I’m not really feeling the Oniverse “magic” in this design, partly because of the theming, and partly because the base game feels so convoluted.
The gameplay reminds me a lot of the Arkham Noir games, which are relatively simple single-deck set-collection ditties based loosely on Lovecraft’s stories, but brought to life with Yves Tourigny’s artwork (he’s also the designer!). In a similar vein, Skoventyr is just set-collection, with the usual card management, as you work your way through a deck of cards, trying to collect the requisite number of sets while avoiding the failstate. The overall concept is basically a badger running in a circle to get away from a block of misshapen wood representing the bad guy.
As @thatdudeguy mentioned, the theming is Danish folklore. The badger is a hero named Vogter (rhymes with “doctor”, believe it or not) and the bad guy is Old Eric, a Danish stand-in for the usual devil. If he catches the badger, game over with a loss. If the badger collects the requisite six sets, it’s a win.
It’s certainly a weird concept. But without better hooks to help me internalize the mechanics, the weird theming translates into arbitrary gameplay. Why does a Huldre wither the forest and let me recruit two free Allies? Does it have anything to do with her tail, or her weird back vagina? (I’m not even making this up!) Oh, look how cute the garden gnome Nisse is hoisting aloft his bowl of rice porridge, but what does that have to do with letting my badger run away one space if I can expose an adjacent ally? And could Old Eric’s minions be any less developed? I just collect two sets of two, two sets of three, and two sets of four, and I pretend that’s somehow defeating a pair of Gengangers, a pair of Mares, and a pair of googly-eyed Lindorm dragons? That’s all these cards do?
(To be fair, the “Lightman” expansion adds a touch more gameplay here.)
And to give you a sense for the convolution I’m talking about, there’s no simple single mechanic like “draw 1, play 1”, which is more or less how Arkham Noir works. Instead, there are a four actions available to you at any time (actually seven, since a few of the four actions break apart into various sub-actions). And the actions aren’t simple things like “draw a card” or “discard a card”; instead, they’re a variety of ways to interact with the cards and their symbols, and in order to help you remember the particulars for each action, the “player aid” is a set of cards you arrange like so:
As you can see, the actions are pretty detailed. It’s taken me a while to learn them all, and I was constantly realizing I’d forgotten some element or another, like having to shuffle the deck after discarding positioned allies, or only being able to take the farthest Future offering if it’s Old Eric, or having to discard withered Trees when a damage Tree option is played…you know, that sort of thing. For it’s size, weight, and playing time, it’s not an easy game to learn. Because in addition to the actions, there are also each of the card’s weird powers, and then the two expansions add two additional layers of gameplay with additional badger command cards. Eventually, this is the player aid you need for Skoventyr:
You got all that? By golly, you will if you expect to run through this little ten-minute game!
As for the artwork, I’m not terribly impressed. I mean, it’s cool that InPatience got Vincent Dutrait to lend his colorful drawings to Yet Another Boardgame, but this is the company that channeled Elise Plesse’s deliriously dreamy visions into gameplay! This is the company that gave life to a whole host of critters without having to write a single rule or explain a single thematic justification because it all felt of a piece, as if Torbey and Plesse were dreaming a single dream in tandem, transliterating it into wordless and numberless cards, without having to festoon the table with verbiage for how to do the things you’re supposed to do. I probably have too many expectations from the richness of Torbey and Plesse’s collaborations, but this artwork feels like something less, like something more prosaic, more like a job than a vision, more like the fulfillment of a contract than a creative expression. As much as I’d love to get a Danish folklore vibe, and especially that meanness mentioned by @thatdudeguy, I’m just not feeling it. I only get the sense of artwork slapped onto a game about a weirdly shaped block of wood chasing a badger in a circle while I do the obligatory set collection. : (
Maybe I’ll change my tune after I’ve messed with the expansions.