Monday, July 14, 2014

Surviving K2! Brrrrrr.

My wife and I found some time last night to give K2 a try.  Adam Kaluza is a board game designer and avid mountain climber.  He has released several climbing games with K2 being the first, followed up by and expansion called Broad Peak (which I do not own....yet) and finally his newly released Mount Everest.

Being a person that loves to camp and hike and climb these games are right up my alley.  I'll keep my comments focused on K2 as I have not had a chance to play Mount Everest yet.  

Each player is assigned two climbers each with their own tent.  The goal is to climb as high as possible to gather as many victory points as you can.  Points from both of your climbers are added together at the end of the game to find your final score.  The game is simple but offers many choices and changing conditions.  As a player you hold six cards in your hand but can only play three per turn, these are movement cards, rope cards (which can be used to move faster down the mountain), and acclimatization cards.  The three cards you play can be split between your two climbers.  Each space on the board has a movement cost and acclimatization cost which can be positive or negative.  You gain victory points by reaching higher spaces but if your climber dies (by going below one acclimatization points) you get only one victory point for him/her.

My wife plots her red climbers strategy.  Points track is on the right edge of the board.

Fun stuff included in the game are the tents, which can be pitched once for each climber.  This changes the acclimatization in one space for that climber to +1 instead of negative points.  Pitching tents are essential to making the summit, when and where you put your can can help win you the game.  Tents are setup by paying extra movement points, once placed they are there for the game and can only be used by the matching climber.

Pushing toward the summit.  You can see the weather track to the left of the board.

Weather is another big factor in the game, there are 18 game turns, each with different weather.  You can see the weather for the next few days and can plan your assault on the summit accordingly.  Weather can cause negative acclimatization or movement in different altitude bands.  This is why tents are so important, if you are losing acclimatization points due to the altitude and also due to the weather your climbers would quickly expire.  As you near the peak there are also rules allowing only so many players in each space, you can pass through but cannot stop and exceed the maximum number allowed.  This allows you to block other players and force them to use more movement cards exposing them to risk factor tokens.

The game board includes two sides, one harder than the other, also included are two sets of weather cards, one good weather with the other being winter weather for increased difficulty.  My wife and I played on the sunny side board with the good weather cards.  Next time we will try the harder versions of each.

My wife's first climber made the summit and then died from overexposure.  My climber is two spaces below the summit in his tent waiting out the storm.

Its a great game that plays smoothly and takes a bit of strategy to plan out your turn.  You never have enough movement and acclimatization cards to execute all of your plans, you need to adapt on the fly to be successful and to keep your climbers alive.  If you have any interest in climbing themed games give K2 a try, you will not be dissapointed!

My climber in his tent is blocking my wife, she needs to play extra movement points to advance past him.

She leaped over me and then I returned the favor and reached the summit!

Here's how the game ended, ten points for each that summit-ed and six for my other climber.  My wife's second climber died giving her only one point which gave me the win!

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