Harald: A Game of Influence Review

Screenshot from Harald: A Game of Influence (Steam version)
A game of Harald can have 2-4 players

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: 3DDUO
  • Publisher: Asmodee Digital
  • Release Date: 28 Sep 2017
  • Time played: 1.2 hours

What is it

Harald: A Game of Influence is a digital adaptation of an actual card game of the same name that was released in 2015 and designed by a chap called RĂ©mi Gruber. The PC version released a couple of years later was developed by a French studio called 3DDUO and published by a company called Asmodee Digital, that seems to have cornered the market on digital board/card game adaptations; it's also apparently the second largest publisher of board games in the world behind Hasbro.

Anyway, Harald is a card game where you score points by placing cards from your hand into the "Council" and your "Village". The more cards of a particular profession in the Council, the more points you will get for that same profession in your Village. The game isn't as simple as that though as each profession has different skills (like giving you the ability to shuffle opponent's cards around) as well as special conditions that allow you to score bonus points (e.g. having more warriors than blacksmiths will score you bonus points with the blacksmith card). The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

The game doesn't currently have a score on Metacritic nor does it have a score on Steam.

How I got it

I managed to get this game as part of a recent Humble Board Games Bundle (November 2018) which came with a lot of digital adaptations of rather famous board games such as Pandemic, Twilight Struggle, Agricola and Colt Express. It also came with a copy of Harald and since it apparently only takes 15 minutes to complete one game according to HowLongToBeat.com, I thought I'd give it a try.

Screenshot from Harald: A Game of Influence (Steam Version)
I like the game's illustrations

What I like:

Appealing artwork

The game's artwork is apparently based off illustrations used in the actual card game, and they're quite good.

Not as simple as it looks

While at first glance you might think this is a really simple game, it's not: there are so many different ways to maximise your score that you'll be wondering which is the best path to achieve victory. Meanwhile, your opponents will be given every opportunity to sabotage your road to success meaning you'll have to re-evaluate your strategies at every turn.

Short games

Each game will generally take 10-20 minutes (depending on how many players there are), so it's a good game to give a whirl when you don't have much time.

Screenshot from Harald: A Game of Influence (Steam version)
Yeah there doesn't seem to be many people actually playing this game...

What I dislike:

Maybe a bit too complicated for the average player

I did mention that the game is a bit more complex than your average card game and this is definitely a strength for those that are good at these sorts of games. Achieving a basic score seems easy enough to understand which involves placing more cards in the Council that match ones you already have in your Village; even the means of acquiring bonus points isn't too difficult to understand either, i.e. if you have a certain number or mix of professions in your Village, you'll score bonus points. However, where the game becomes a bit tricky is that each of the cards allows you to perform a certain action that often involves switching cards around and you can use these actions to sabotage your opponent's progress.

This means that while you might be targeting a particular strategy on one turn, you may end up having to change it on the next thanks to your opponent removing or flipping over cards that you need to ensure victory. With time, I'm sure players will learn all the nuances but despite having played European board games like Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, this one I struggle with – a bit like how I struggle with board games such as Agricola (strangely enough though, Harald is considered less complex than all the games I've just mentioned, at least according to the website BoardGameGeek).

Nobody plays it

I signed up for an Asmodee Digital account so I could play online. The process itself was uneventful but when I logged in there was nobody actually playing the game; this is in contrast to when I signed in to play Carcassonne which had around 200 people playing. Maybe the fact that Carcassonne is arguably a better-known game results in more players online. I also checked the leaderboards for the game and there are only 279 people that have ever posted a score.

Why do I bring this up? Well, while the game is not bad as a single player game, I can imagine it getting pretty old for some and being able to play with friends or even strangers on the Internet can sometimes amplify the enjoyment (and consequently, longevity) of a game. Sadly, if you don't have friends that already own the game and are willing to play it, it's going to be tough finding a human opponent.

No Steam Achievements or Trading Cards

There are in-game achievements but somehow, they didn't decide to integrate them with Steam. There are also no Trading Cards.

Score – 7/10 (Good)

Not a bad little game if you're into more complex card games however you'll have to be content with playing this game solo as there is hardly anyone playing this game online. Otherwise, the only other solution is to grab a copy for one of your mates and then give it a go.

The game also has no Steam Achievements or Trading Cards and might be a little too complex for your average player, at least for the sort used to games like Uno or Skip Bo.

Is the game worth $7.50 AUD?: No, but only because you can get this game on mobile for $2-3 and considering it's probably not too different from those versions, I think $5 would be a fairer price. However, if you can get this game on sale, it's definitely worth it if you're into these kind of card games.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official Website ]