You shall ride eternal, shiny, and chrome!
Let me just say that Champions of Midgard is one of my favorite games of the last few years. Let me also say “Lords of Waterdeep” because, as we all know, reviewers are required by law to mention Lords of Waterdeep in any review pertaining to Champions of Midgard. I'm glad we got that out of the way.
I could babble on about thematic but the simple truth is that the Valhalla Expansion crushes it. Whereas in the base Champions of Midgard, you worry and fret about possibly losing a warrior with ill fated dice rolls, now you can revel in their ascension into Valhalla. When a warrior is lost, a “sacrifice” token of the type of warrior that was lost is placed on that players' burial ground tile (represented by a burning ship because “Vikings!”). These tokens, which we call “souls” are then traded for player boosts on the new, additional Valhalla side board. (Alexa: Find me a Champions of Midgard Playmat). The Valhalla board is a “But I want ALL of those things” market addition. The currency of the souls of the dead only makes the agonizing decision of “Should I wait to buy the bigger, better card” all the sweeter. What if someone beats you to the epic monster that you have already decided that you NEED to complete your strategy? Other cards, which reward you with an item, can also give you progressively more Glory Points based on what round you purchase them. Now, what appeared to be a appetizer card, suddenly becomes worthy of being the main course.
Leader Dice and, more importantly, the new mini-leader ability boards are another fantastic addition. Now, it really is a tough choice of what leader you choose because the mini-boards bring a balance to all of the previous leader powers. Instead of just a name on a board, your character is now a real, physical dice. Gone is the “It is by my hand that you will rise from the ashes” attitude, instead you are in the trenches risking wounds for reward with your warriors. Rolling a viking helmet on the leader dice kicks in that leaders new bonus but the leader dice also include single and double strikes to bolster the damage. Leaders can't be killed but they can, however, be wounded. This hearkens back to the Valhalla sideboard where, if the proper cards come up, you can use souls to purchase additional dice and return a wounded leader to your dice pool. Of course, Grey Fox included the two leader ability boards for the leaders found in Dark Mountains expansion because that is the type of marketing that suckers in completist like me.
The Valhalla Expansion is so good, it actually supercharges the Dark Mountains expansion and makes it worthy of play. Where the risk/reward was debatable when fighting the Mountain giants when using Dark Mountains alone, the addition of the things like Loki's Compass (which lets you disregard a travel card and simply take a blame token instead) and needing to trade the souls of Archer Warriors to gain some of the Valhalla Rewards make it a tempting alternative. Maybe some warriors perish on the trip though the mountains but with a scream of “I Live, I die, I live again!” you can trade the souls for a Berserker Warrior or Shield Maiden: Stronger, better Dice that can reap even better rewards when their souls ascend to Valhalla.
On the downside: Adding this expansion extents both the set-up time and the gameplay time. Taking both of those into account, it can almost double the typical playtime of the base game, especially when also adding the Dark Mountains. On the plus side of this down side, I never felt the game was dragging, which would occasionally happen on the seven or eighth round of the base game.
New Dice, new mechanics, new destiny cards: These all lead to a new lease on the afterlife. If you need me, I am awaited in Valhalla. They were calling my name. I should be walking with the Immortan. Feasting with the heroes of all time.