The best free updates are those that make me instantly go "yes, I'd like to do that". Yes, I would like to build a monument that summons friendly boars in every forest tile. Yes, I'd like to send giants on raiding parties, or spend food to conjure sheep.
My point is that the latest update for Viking RTS Northgard's goes beyond tinkering with damage numbers and resource costs (though it does that too). My point is that Northgard's latest update lets you befriend giant boars and then eat them.
Relics, unsurprisingly, are the stars of the "Relics" update. They're a new special building that can be constructed via a Forge, where you now also upgrade tools rather than clicking a button that does that auto-magically.
You can only build one Relic each game, either from a pool of five standard Relics or your clan's special, ostensibly more powerful one. Some of them look like they could turn games by themselves, though perhaps only if you've planned with a particular Relic in mind.
The Raven gets to replace their normal meagre raiding parties with full on giants. The Stag gets to let their Warchief colonise areas for free, the Snake can research two military tech trees at once, and the Dragon can summon an undead Jotnar (a different kind of giant with horrible claw gloves).
The Boar clan is still my favourite, those being the chaps that can summon boars to every forest. If you already own a forest tile then the boar on it will become your friend, and if you walk it back to the Relic then you can sacrifice it for a staggering 500 food. That could feed your village for an entire winter, all for the low low cost of psychologically scarring any children who it played with.
There are also a few balance changes I haven't covered, so do go check out the patch notes in full.
I haven't played Northgard since before Ragnorak struck in the last update, but Rich McCormick reports that the apocalypse has made the game both more feisty and fun:
"It was hard enough forging a new community in the original game’s cold climates; doing it all at the end of the world can feel impossible, and my appetite to deal with yet another ghost raid or rat infestation dwindled after my fourth or fifth game. But Northgard shines in single skirmish sessions, where Ragnarok offers a cerebral and enjoyable balancing act, posing a series of dangerous situations and difficult decisions that tax the brain in ways that few other strategy games do."
You can nab Northgard on Steam for £24/$30/€28.