Hammer of the Gods is a turn-based strategy game that recreates the world the way the Vikings experienced it. The gods are a real consideration in the decisions made and glorious death one of the highest goals. Unlike other strategy games, the building of the empire is not necessarily the ultimate objective. Hammer of the Gods introduced the combat system later popularized by Heroes of Might and Magic.
The player competes against other players to earn the favor of the Norse gods and become the Hammer of the Gods. The player can raid coastal villages, conquer cities and then link them together by building roads. Next, build castles to protect them. The particular path that the player follows to victory will vary based on the "family" of gods that is chosen at the beginning of the game. Maintaining honor in the eyes of the other Vikings is important throughout the game. The four paths are Human, Elf, Troll and Dwarf. Any of these may become Odin's chosen leader on Midgard by completing his quest and ensuring the player's place in legend.