Release Date: 2021Players: 2-4
Designer: Reiner KniziaLength: 15-30 minutes
Artist: Yoshiaki TomiokaAge: 8+
Publisher: Itten GamesComplexity: 1.0 / 5
Plastic (by weight): 20%Air (by volume): <10%

We were going to leave our Scandinavian homelands to search for fortunes in new shores far beyond the horizon. However, before we could set off, we had to load our boat with provisions, equipment and a daring crew. The problem was, that it was a rough, windy day and our longships were dangerously swaying on the swell. Getting everything safely stowed on board was going to be tricky. It was almost like we were on a Viking See-Saw by Reiner Knizia from Itten Games.

I know. The idea of a Viking see-saw doesn’t necessarily make much sense. Viking longships were rather sturdy vessels that could safely store a large amount of cargo. Loading them in the safety of a harbour would have required a good amount of muscle power, but not really much nimbleness. Yet, for a dexterity game, having to place items on what effectively behaves like a set of scales is the perfect and rather simple solution. Calling the game after what is its main component follows this simplicity to its ultimate conclusion.

Perfect Balance

Mind you, given that Viking See-Saw is published by the Japanese publisher Itten Games, it should come as no surprise that the game follows minimalistic design principles and aims for nothing less than perfection as a product. Throw into the mix Reiner Knizia‘s ability to design really clever and fun abstract games and you end up with a game that appeals to Western tastes with a look and feel that only a Japanese company can properly achieve.

At its core, Viking See-Saw is a simple balancing game. Everyone starts with the same items. On your turn, you choose one and add it to the side of the see-saw that’s currently in the air. You need to choose something that is light enough and won’t tip the balance. When you first look at the items in front of you, you see quite a few different plastic pieces, plus some metal ones. There is also a sort of meeple figure. It doesn’t look like much and you get the impression that they all weigh pretty much the same. It is only when you pick each one up that you realize how wrong you were.

The golden metal cubes are really, really heavy. They are the sort of weight that you wish the cubes in Terraforming Mars should have. Their heft is very surprising and unexpected. The silver cubes, which are the same size as the gold ones, are quite a lot lighter in comparison. They’re the sort of weight you expected the golden ones to be. The silver ball’s weight is probably somewhere between the golden and silver cubes’. The plastic pieces seem to be about the same weight as each other, with the meeple figure probably the lightest.

two metal gold cubes, a silve cube, a red ball, a silver ball, a yellow plastic gem and a meeple figure
all the items are very different shapes and weights

Ups and Downs

The thing is, weight isn’t the only property that is important in Viking See-Saw. At some point, you will start stacking items on top of each other. It’s easy enough to place cubes on top of cubes, but the balls are trickier. The most awkward shape to stack anything on top of is probably the yellow crystal-like plastic piece. So when you decide what to place from your supply on the boat, you need to think about weight and shape and where in the upward section to place it.

It quickly becomes clear that what seemed like a simple balancing dexterity game has had a lot of thought put into it. The design of the game is very clever and the components were clearly chosen very carefully to fine-tune the experience. That isn’t obvious when you look at the game online or watch videos. Viking See-Saw is definitely not yet another component stacking game. You have to really try it for yourself.

Mind you, there is a small niggle. It’s actually not that much of an issue, but like in most dexterity games, there will be moments that the rules don’t properly cover. As a group, you just have to house-rule the situation as you feel is right, which I think is absolutely fine. That’s something that’s not unique to Viking See-Saw and no dexterity game will ever be able to set out every possible scenario, without coming with a rulebook as thick as an encyclopedia.

As it is, the game’s rulebook is really short and really simple. Literally, any eight-year-old can read it, set up the game and teach everyone how to play in less than 10 minutes. It’s amazing and just what you want for a game that only takes about 15 minutes to play.

a hand trying to place golden cube onto the Viking See-Saw
as items are stacked on top of each other, Viking See-Saw gets even more difficult

Fun Vikings

I’ve played Viking See-Saw many times now and always had a lot of fun. After a few plays, you do know roughly what works and what doesn’t, but when the previous player makes your life hard, it’s still always a challenge. The game also works just as well with two players as it does with four. Downtime is certainly no issue, because you’re constantly watching what other players are doing. Even though the game is competitive, you almost want them to succeed in placing their silver ball onto the awkward plastic yellow gem. At the same time, you laugh with glee when the boat tips at the end of their turn. There is always suspense and laughter. The game certainly never gets boring, even though you’re not likely to play it more than a few times in an evening. I highly recommend you try it for yourself and find out how difficult it is to be the first to have placed all of your items on the boat.

Useful Links


Transparency Facts

I feel that this review reflects my own, independent and honest opinion, but the facts below allow you to decide whether you think that I was influenced in any way.
  • I bought and paid for the game myself.
  • At the time of writing, neither the designers, nor the publisher, nor anyone linked to the game supported me financially or by payment in kind.

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (

Sound Effects: – © copyright 2023 BBC

Music: Mjolnir by Alexander Nakarada
Free download:
Licensed under CC BY 4.0:

Music: The Vikings by Alexander Nakarada
Free download:
Licensed under CC BY 4.0:


These are the songs I listened to while I was writing this review:

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