There's a point, maybe around an hour in, where you might feel a little disappointed with The Old Gods, a new Viking expansion for epic strategy game Crusader Kings II that was released this week.
When you think Vikings, you think looting, pillaging, beards, fire, axes, mayhem. Yet this expansion delivers almost none of that. It takes some of history's most notorious raiders and reduces them to a themed faction of a PC strategy game, one that has to work within the same structural confines of politics, technology, religion and intrigue that every other more boring Kingdom has to work with.
You're balancing books. Dealing with petty disputes. Worrying about marrying off your daughters.
In other words, it feels like the most boring Viking game ever made.
As you play on, though, you remember, hey, wait a minute. I'm not playing a Viking game. I'm playing an expansion to the wonderful Crusader Kings II, one that - in addition to Christians, Muslims, Byzantines and Republics - now lets me play the same great game, only as a Viking, with some neat new features like raids (armies can pillage cities without declaring war) and a very Norse wooden skin over the UI to give it as much of a Viking feel as is possible.
That's the beauty of each of these CKII expansions; they each introduce something new, sure, but for the most part they're just adding layer upon layer to the original experience.
Nothing drastic here, then, aside from a possible meta-game of halting the spread of Christianity through Viking lands. Same game, same amazing highs, same crushing lows, only now you can look at them through a thick ginger beard. Think of it that way, as a feather in an already amazing hat, and you're good to go.
For experienced players, the best new features are probably the aforementioned raids, a revamped technology system that actually makes you use it, the ability to plan big invasions (increasing your troop sizes) and the nice customised Viking touches like Norse advisors on the game map.
The only real downside, I've found, is that you're going to need a history book and an atlas open, because I'd wager unless you're Scandinavian, or a Viking scholar, you'll have no idea where most of the place and realm names are actually located on the map. The game's search function will take a beating during your first few hours.