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Avalanche at Yeti Mountain

Players are skiers, with rockets attached to their skis, and they’re racing down a mountain. Unfortunately you have to contend with both a yeti and an avalanche on your way down!

Green Couch Games is usually fantastic at packing a lot of fun into a small box. Were they successful this time?

Gameplay

There is a deck of sixty mountain cards. Each mountain card has a number and symbol on it, which are used when they’re in players’ hands. But fifteen of these cards are also lined up to create the mountain at the start of the game. As part of the mountain, the cards create a ski path down the mountain with spaces on each card for skiers, and a path for the yeti (which sometimes splits, giving him multiple options and often crosses the skiers’ path). Each mountain card also has two to three snow banks on it.

At the start of the game a speed limit is chosen based on the number of players and each player’s meeple is placed at the top of the mountain along with the yeti. Four mountain cards are dealt to each player and the game begins.

Each player simultaneously plays one of their cards (or two if they have a matching symbol). The number on your card is how fast you are going and how many spaces you will ski down the mountain. If all the numbers of all the played cards this round exceed the speed limit, the fastest player crashes and will only move one space.

If you played a card with a symbol matching the mountain card your meeple is on, or you played two cards with a matching symbol, you activate your rocket skis. These alow you to jump over both any open spaces remaining on the card you currently occupy and the next card, land, and then move the number of spaces indicated by the number on the card you played.

After skiers move, the yeti moves. The player who is the furthest up the mountain moves the yeti. The yeti may move either up or down (but cannot switch directions during his movement) and moves the number of spaces equal to or less than the number of spaces moved by the fastest player. If the yeti crosses through your space, you won’t be able to use your rocket skis next round.

Each time a player uses their rocket skies, the avalanche counter moves up one. After the yeti has moved, you advance the avalanche down the mountain, moving one snowbank for each number on the avalanche counter. If the avalanche stops on or past a skier, that player is eliminated from the game and the speed limit goes down. Finally, at the end of each round, players each draw a card. Even if you played two cards this round, you may only draw one.

The first player to reach the bottom of the mountain wins the game. If all players are eliminated, no one wins.

Avalanche at Yeti Mountain Components

Review

Avalanche at Yeti Mountain continues the fine Green Couch Games tradition of using a minimal amount of components to create a lot of game with a lot nuance. Using the same deck of cards to both create the mountain and fill the players hands, it can all fit in a small, portable box while still offering a huge amount of variety each game when it comes to building the mountain.

Sometimes racing games struggle to capture any real sense of urgency to reach the finish line, but Yeti Mountain keeps things tense with the ever approaching avalanche. There’s a lovely push your luck aspect to the game as you alternate between wanting to go fast but needing to avoid crashing. The more players use the rockets the more fun the game becomes, as the more dangerous your skier’s situation feels.

If the game has one flaw it is that there are a few points in the rulebook which are hard to decipher, and we found ourselves needing to search online for clarification.

The game offers a couple of fun variations, in particular a card drafting variation that makes the game a little trickier if you want to add an extra layer of strategy to the game.

If you enjoy racing games or Green Couch Games’s other offerings, you’re likely to have a lot of fun with Avalanche at Yeti Mountain. It’s well worth checking out. Recommended!

Pros: Push your luck elements, fun rule variations

Cons: Rules could use some clarification

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.