A Reader Review of Viking Death Squad from Runehammer Games

Viking Death Squad is a world, RPG system, and play resource inspired by the heavy metal superclassic ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath.

I found this book, specifically, I found the hardback deluxe edition of this book, at Tribe Comics and Games. It was beautiful, ridiculous, and over the top. Everything I really want in a game. I love Black Sabbath and classic Heavy Metal, so I was down to throw down, and spent way too much on this beautiful little book, don’t worry, you can get the book for super cheap off DTRPG.

Physical Product: 9

Again, I bought the hardcover book, it’s full color, and shiny pages, it’s premium as fuck. That’s the copy I have, so that’s the copy I’m evaluating. I’ll also say that it was super expensive. Was it worth the price? I gotta admit that I’m happy I have it, and it’s the sort of thing that it’s really cool to own the premium edition of.

Art: 10

Oh. Man. I love this art. We see a lot of generic art and creative commons art in the Indie Game Dev community these days. And now AI is starting to make a pretty big appearance as well, and look, I don’t have anything against either of those, hell I use them myself, but this black ink and hand-drawn art is still something to be cherished and admired!

The layout was easy to read and follow as well.

Writing/Editing: 8

I didn’t see any issues here. The writing was informal, but plain enough to deliver the rules and ideas in a concise manner.

World/Fiction: 8

  • Design: Brutal, heavy metal! Everything about the game feels like a bunch of metal heads sitting around trying to think of something that will just be awesome. What I like the most is the “fuck-it” attitude. Anything that the players couldn’t define or explain they wrote that lack of explanation into the game. I love it!
  • Originality: Everything here has been seen before, in a thousand heavy metal songs. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see it again. Everything is melded together in an extremely cool way, painting a unified picture that rules.
  • Fleshed out: Here’s where we lose a couple of points, there are a LOT of unanswered questions, and while I think some of that is by design, some of it feels like high-fiving because a thing is awesome. For instance, Lucifer is waging a war against mankind AND the warpigs, and there is a war in hell. Why? I mean I know it’s because in the song “Satan laughing spreads his wings”. But, it doesn’t really come together in the world of the game. The whole Hell aspect feels shoehorned in to fit the “War Pigs/heavy metal” theme. instead of woven in like so much else they did.
  • Engaging: Yeah man, this is a fucking fun read. Lots of cool lore, lots of opportunities to throw the horns.
  • Mechanics: I think this part really shines, I like big pools of dice, and I like how leveling up works. Everything feels on theme, and more notably feels fresh and interesting. Kudos to Runehammer!

Overall: 8.40

Final Thoughts: I adore all the various metal games out there.

Mork Borg – Black Metal
Xas Irkalla – Death Metal
Necronautilus – Stoner Metal
Viking Death Squad – Heavy Metal

and there’s plenty more. Each game adds something I didn’t know I was missing. You can make any game metal, but there is something truly special about hunkering down with a book that is built from the ground up to play alongside the music you love.

Viking Death Squad was written and designed by a team that really understands what makes heavy metal so much fun. All the elements of it are in here, with none of the fluff that gets in the way. Every step of the game design path you know Runehammer asked, “okay, but how do we make this even more awesome. They poured their love of the genre into making this…

and it hits on all cylinders.

Hey! Do you think “Who is this John guy and what makes him such an expert?” Do you say “Does he think he can do better?”

NO! I don’t. But I do think I can do it! This August (2022) I’ll be launching my first Kickstarter as part of ZineQuest, Morkkabeans 1:1. So if you’re into weird metaphysics and Mork Borg, please check it out! (Click the picture to go to the project!)


Have a physical game or supplement you want John to review? Contact him below!

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