Review – Disaster on Kangchenjunga from Victory Point Games
Designer – Tom Decker
Art – Scott Everts and Ray Flowers
Victory Point Games has provided a copy of this game for review purposes.
The third of Victory Point Games‘ Mountain climbing “Disaster” series is here. I enjoyed the first, Disaster on Everest, haven’t played Disaster on K2, but managed to get a hold of their newest release which I was particularly intrigued with as it has a James Bond-style twist.
Disaster on Kangchenjunga is a game for 1-2 ages 10+ which could be played competitively which is an interesting change fro Everest.The object of the game is to get to the top of the mountain and also collect secret plans from a crashed plane. Trouble is, there is a spy in your team will try and stop you. This sounded really cool. Scenes from James Bond films immediately popped in my head as well as scenes from the Eiger Sanction.
Like all Victory Point Games‘ products, this game comes in a ziplock bag.
- one 8 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ map of Kangchenjunga
28 5/8″ two-sided markers
54 3/4″ two-sided game pieces
-plus rules booklet, Player Aid card and National Team status board
I noticed that the quality of components is improving nicely from Victory Point Games. The map, game chits, player aids are all very serviceable and clear, the artwork pretty nice, and the rules, which come in a proper booklet now are well done being concise and clear, making the game relatively easy to go through.
To begin with, you will need to choose your international team (British or Chinese) along with a Sherpa Guide. The Guide and Climbers have traits which are used in the more advanced game. You will also randomly choose the Spy who is after the secret plans and place the chosen Spy marker face down in the Unrevealed Spy space. So right from the start, the intrigue is set.
The game process is as follows:
1. Draw an event marker randomly from an opaque cup in which you will store the event markers and then, depending what is drawn, you can -
- Place the Blocked Ridge Markers
- Buy Event tokens with Prestige Points – Some are immediate, some you can hold onto. Some are beneficial, some you may want to slow down Darkness’s approach
- Play on the Daylight Track – If ou don’t buy the Event you have pulled, the token is placed on the Daylight Track which means time is passing and Darkness getting closer. Also, the Spy can be revealed at the 3rd or 5th space on the track.
2. Resolve The Wall (Daylight only) – During the Daylight phase, climbers and Guides on The Wall are moved using chart on the game board. During Darkness, this step is skipped and climbers can be moved normally.
3. Move your team
- Daylight Phase – you can
a. Move your Guide or
b. move up to all 5 climbers or
c. Make preparations and move 1 climber – the Guides give specific advantages of course but limit the number climbers that can move which is a problem, as the fewer climbers make it to the top, the fewer points you can earn. So there is a balancing act for you to carry out. Preparations are useful in cutting the odds of bad events happening as you can get rid of some by being well prepared. BUT it slows you down.
- Darkness Phase – When you reach the Darkness phase, it’s all down hill (sorry…) or possibly up hill if the Spy is in a good position. Everyone can move but the movement is reduced. Time is essentially running out for you to get the climbers back down, hopefully having reached the Summit and grabbed the plans!
Some nice features include -
Bivouacking – can save the lives of stranded climbers
Special rules for difficult terrain like Ridges and The Wall
Summit and Crash Site Goals
But my favourite is Revealing the Spy as this feature really takes this game to new heights (sorry…) as the drama is increased as you now have to deal with the Spy who will do their best to get those secret plans. Good fun, easily understood and makes the game far more interesting.
4. End of Turn
Game End – if Darkness reaches the 8th space, the game is immediately over.
Various end game steps include
- Resolving Lost and Bivouacked Climbers, Resolve Climbers and High Camp
Victory Points are scores for -
- surviving climbers reaching the crash site
- surviving climbers reaching reaching the summit
- negative points for climbers that don’t survive
- returning to High Camp
- for remaining prestige points
- Returning with the Secret Plans
There are also Advanced rules for a little more realism and 2-player rules for a competitive game. There are also rules for a Campaign game combining all three games in the set.
It didn’t take me too long to learn Disaster on Kangchenjunga. Within 2 turns I was into the flow of things and feeling the tension rather than rules lawyering. Yes I did have to refer back to the rules on occasion but this wasn’t a problem for me. This is a solid design which works mechanically, while keeping the theme up front and center.
Did it work for me?
So this is a race, plain and simple. Well not so simple really, with not only the elements and Darkness against you as well as events, but a spy thrown in for good measure. No, not so simple. But it is really cool and fun.
Tom Decker has taken a bit of a leap with Disaster on Kangchenjunga as it could have come across a bit cheesy to add the spy element but instead, he hits the right buttons of raising tension, adding a James Bond/Jason Bourne feel with just enough detail without overdoing the theme. I found this game more fun than Everest because of this. what could be a mundane slog up and down the mountain is brimming with tension and energy as you have to really balance your decisions between caution and risk, all the while waiting for the Spy to be revealed, hoping you can prevent them from getting the secret plans. A well designed game that’s interesting, tense and great fun.
Compared to the likes of K2, which is a good game, Disaster on Kangchenjunga is for me, a better experience with richer theme.
If Victory Point Games could convince GMT Games to do a Rolls Royce production of this game, it could really reach a wide audience which I think that it deserves.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 8.5 out of 10
Family Friendly? – Its a solo or 2-player game, so not targeted at families. Age 10+ would seem right.
For more information about Victory Point Games go to – http://victorypointgames.com/