Review – Disaster on Everest from Victory Point Games, designed by Tom Decker
My best friend absolutely loves to go up into the Scottish Highlands and have a good climb. He is a bit of a fanatic and I’ve never been convinced that this would bring any joy to my life, but I do admire that he is committed to his sport and has picked up all kinds of proper gear over the years to ensure his safety. I just don’t do heights. Especially, cold and treacherous heights… brrr……
Ah then, when it comes to a board game that takes you up Mount Everest, with your clients in tow, aiming to get them to the Summit or at least Hilary’s step. That’s another thing. I will certainly give it a go and this brings me to Disaster on Everest from Victory Point Games.
This is a solitaire game for ages 10+ which could be played cooperatively if you’d like to. Victory Point Games’ approach to publishing is interesting and this game exemplifies it. The components might be considered simple by some. No wooden cubes! Shock horror! No minis, no mounted board! Oh my! Well get over it, because the game map and player aids are card stock and the playing pieces are die-cut chits. And it all comes in a small, light-weight plastic ziplock bag. Before you seasoned gamers scream in horror, I would say, don’t jusge a book by its cover. The folks at Victory Point Games believe that the gameplay is what really matters and having been around gaming for many years, I champion this!
The map, game chits, player aids are all very serviceable and clear, the artwork effective, the rules concise and clear. What more do I really need to play?
Although primarily focused on war games, Disaster on Everest is from Victory Games’ growing line of Family/Euro type games. The object of the exercise to for the player to choose 2 guides from four Mountaineering companies and then escort a number of amateur climbers up Everest from their Home Camp. Sounds relatively straightforward. Ah, but there are associated challenges as not all the guides have the same abilities, the clients have variable experience represented by their climbing speeds and there’s the weather… The monster storm is coming and the question is how far can you take your clients… to Hilary’s Step? Or to the Summit?
The game process is as follows:
Draw an Event Token – decide whether to spent prestige points on it or if you don’t, it goes on the Storm Watch track which means the Storm is coming.
Move your team – utilizing your guides’ abilities and managing the various speeds of your clients, getting past blocked ridges, using equipment, etc.
Resolve Hilary Step Queue – thought you could get past this ridge easily? think again… here you have a serious choice, take less vp’s, cut your losses before the storm hits, or go for the summit!
End of turn
Movement is regulated on the game map which shows the travel path, through various ridges which can become blocked, making the journey even tougher. Event tokens are pulled each turn which can work for you or against you as you have to pay prestige points to play them. Paying prestige points is a balancing act as implementing Event tokens does stall the coming of the storm, giving you more time to get up the mountain. However, they come at different cost levels in prestige points. The more you pay for what could be helpful events, the faster you run out of your prestige points. When you do run out, it triggers the Storm Phase which is the countdown to the end of the game and seeing who survives (yes, not everyone may make it back to camp) and what your victory point total is.
Ultimately, your victory point score determines if your company builds its reputation and thrives or it goes into receivership because you didn’t take care of your clients and see them through to achieve their mountaineering ambitions.
Did it work for me?
It is all cleverly designed by Tom Decker. I know nothing about mountain climbing but I certainly felt that I got a glimpse into the issues and challenges. Its not a deep game, and probably won’t set the world alight but it works well. Each set of guides from the four companies has certain strengths, each set of clients have different speed limitations, the elements, the mountain, fate or luck… All interesting and challenging. The game moves quickly and has the right level of tension and challenge to keep it interesting and fun. No two games will play the same as there are enough variables to keep you coming back to try and better your score. I really like this game. Its nice to have a solo system that is simple to play, doesn’t take too much time at all and leaves me wanting to have another go! A great example of a game nicely produced, affordable, not needing the weight of all kinds of bits and pieces, and yet working well.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 8 out of 10
Family Friendly? – Its a solo game, but you could team up with a partner and each use a guide. Age 10+ would seem right.
For more information about Victory Point Games go to – http://victorypointgames.com/