Hengist, by Mayfair Games, is a game that takes place on the coast of early medieval England. The Romans have just left and the Picts and Scots are fighting to fill the power vacuum. That, of course, did not sit well with the other inhabitants of the island. The Saxons captain sends his best men to defend the interior. This captain is quite a mess and pays badly. And yes, as a well-respected Saks, you instead do know what to do. You increase your wages with loot. In Hengist two groups of Saxons set off to get as much spoils as possible.
To my great surprise, these competitors do share a boat. This boat sails along the coast and the men can get in and out wherever they want. Once on the coast the paths lead to the hinterland where the villages are located that must be pillaged. At this time in history nobody had heard of Google maps and so it is a guess which path is the right path and how valuable the spoils are that can be captured in the village.
In the boat there are three groups of looters from each player. In your turn, you can perform one action with each of these groups. You can get out of the boat or simply sit down again, or you can walk a bit with a group of men. You have to hand in the same combination of cards as shown on the path you want to take. There is a strip pointing out the paths to the villages. If you are going to walk along a path, you can look at the back of this strip to see which village the path ends and how much loot you get.
There are also black explorers in the game. If you have managed to get (draw) one of them then you can use it to see in advance how the paths run so that you can choose the most profitable path (considering the hand cards you have). You can also use a discoverer card as a joker or to retrieve a group of looters who have disappeared. Every time you use a black card, the boat sails a bit further. At the beginning of the game there are three board parts, but as soon as the boat moves from the third part, the first part is turned over and placed as the fourth part. All the men (and treasures) that were on this part disappear from the game. At the end of a turn, players draw a number of cards (2 to 5 depending on where their looters are on the board). It plays pretty simple to be honest and you feel like you don’t have much to do or decide.
Conclusion: Hengist, better skip this one
Hengist feels like a game that was still under development when they released it (or at least rushed). The core of the game had to be something with “combinations of cards to walk on paths” and “do not immediately see where the paths go”. Now it is mainly a great happiness festival. You just have to pull the combinations of cards needed to walk along a path. Often there is not much to choose and so you go where you have the cards for. After all, it does not make much sense to spend a rare black card on knowledge of one of the paths if you can only go one path after all. I therefore did not really feel like had much influence on my end result. I can imagine that children who have not yet fully understood the game and therefore still like it (after all, it looks good and they also like to plunder and pillage). But for a game that is not specifically put on the market as a child’s game it is not enough to satisfy even moderately experience board game enthusiast. Therefor it might be a fun present for someone you know that like the theme, or for children, but u yourself might want to skip Hengist for better games.