Ragnarol Designer Diary 1

Ragnarol and Hedron are very different games. Ragnarol is a game that’s more about the interaction between players and the narrative that develops. It’s designed to be a fun game that gives you permission to ruthlessly pillage your friends. As opposed to Hedron, it’s not a game where winning means everything. The narrative aspect of the game helps to make the games enjoyable, win or lose, and it is very much game that mixes skill with luck, meaning it’s not 100% your fault if you lose. But one thing that’s come up a few times in testing is that occasionally a players will have a bad battle early on and lose a bunch of stores or a few men, and it’s hard to catch an early lead. With Ragnarol, I want players always to feel that their choices matter and that they can raid and pillage their way to victory. So the latest iteration of Ragnarol includes a few more options for your warriors apart from raiding (which some of you may have already seen) and a new path to battle success through gaining glory.

The Paths and Glory addition and the variants are a little shaky but the basic version is a smooth ride.

Ragnarol has been in development for around a year at this stage. It’s been playtested and refined across a few iterations, but this is the first time I’m writing things down for the internet. Before we go any further, the Ragnarol design goals. These have been in my head for quite some time, but this is the first time I’ve put them in a bullet-point list.

Ragnarol Design Goals

  • You can play Ragnarol with almost anyone, not just gamers
  • Each game of Ragnarol tells a story
  • You have choices and these choices matter
  • Ragnarol has a good mix of luck and strategy
  • Ragnarol rewards strategy and adaptation to changing game circumstances

Dealing with Loss

There are a few existing strategies to deal with an early swing against you but they’re quite passive. You can tighten your belt, send some warriors out into the snow and focus on defense, or you can go hunting, hoping for a big win. Concentrating on raiding is a less viable tactic if you’ve only got a few warriors left so I wanted to give players a way to stay in the game in a more aggressive Viking fashion, which is why I’ve introduced Glory. Whenever you lose a raid, you get Glory for each fallen warrior. This softens the blow of losing a battle but also allows you to send warriors to a certain death just for the Glory. Glory replaces the worship track and mostly lets you change dice results in your favour. A smaller fighting force with Glory still has a chance against a larger fighting force with no Glory. It also means you can send warriors to almost certain deaths just for Glory, which is fun and it’s one of those slightly odd but very thematic things that I want to keep in Ragnarol, like eating the dog* and sending your men out into the snow to conserve on food.


  • New variants. The one I’m recommending for 2-player play is The Shut-Ins. This adds a neutral player and some interesting long-term strategies.
  • Glory replacing the Worship track. Sometimes dice don’t like you, so I wanted to give players a way to turn the tide if they were continually losing in battle. We also found that the Worship track was the least useful in playtesting as you needed the right situation to come by to make the most out of it. We reworked some of the rewards from the Worhsip track into glory and then revised them so they would be more useful.

For the time being, I’m keeping the track section separate from the base game. You can find the rules and a player mat with track information here. Details of The Shut-Ins variant here.

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