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Mountain Goats

Climb the mountains in search of food, but keep an eye on your fellow goats as only one can graze on the mountain top.

Published by BoardGameTables.com, playable for 2-5 players in about 20 minutes, Mountain Goats is a dice game featuring goat meeples, tempting mountains, and plenty of player interaction.

Gameplay

There are six rows of mountain cards. There are four cards in the first two rows, three in the middle two, and two in the final two. The rows are numbered 5-10. Each player places a goat in their player color at the bottom of each row.

On your turn, you take the four dice and roll them. If you roll multiple dice with a value of one, you can turn all but one of them to show any values you wish. Then you may make groups of the dice. There can be as few or as many of the dice in each group as you like. For each group, you check the combined values of the dice in that group and move your goat up one card in the row whose number matches that value. So if a group has a value of six, you move your goat up in the six row. You can move a goat up the same row more than once on your turn if your dice groupings allow it. If a group exceeds ten or is less than five, it has no effect on any of your goats.

When your goat reaches the top card of one of the rows, you take a point token from the top of that row. The point tokens at the top of the five row is worth five points, the ones at the top of the six row are worth six points, and so on through to ten.

If another goat is at the top of a row when your goat reaches it, that goat is knocked back down to the start of the row. If your goat is already at the top and would move up, you leave it where it is and take another point token. If a row’s point tokens run out, reaching the top of it no longer has any effect. When you claim a token from each of the six rows you earn a bonus point token. There are four of these bonus point tokens of descending value, and you can claim more than one of them if you collect more than one complete set of point tokens.

The game ends once all the bonus tokens have been claimed or when three rows no longer have any point tokens, and everyone has had an equal number of turns. The player with the most points then wins the game.

Mountain Goats components

 

Review

Mountain Goats is a simple little game with interesting choices, fun player interaction, and a game length this hits just right. It’s fast, there’s minimal downtime, and you’re always interested to see what your opponents’ goats will do, as these decisions will affect your own choices.

Between the ability to change dice if you rolled multiple one’s and the many different combinations you can typically make with four dice, you always have some choices to make each turn, which helps to mitigate the feeling that luck just wasn’t on your side.

The game has a certain push-your-luck element to it, as you balance going for the big scoring rows that you’ll likely get pushed off of sooner, with grabbing multiple scoring tiles on the longer rows as you wait for players to catch up with you. It’s always important to keep an eye on where your opponents are, and sometimes it pays to hold back until they’ve passed you. Meanwhile, the bonus points are quite big, so you do have the incentive to climb multiple mountains and race your opponents to claim the bigger bonus tiles first.

There’s a really nice component quality, as the dice are nice and chunky and enjoyable to roll, while the goat meeples are cute and unique. The game is bright and colorful, but it does take up a bit more space at the table than you might expect from such compact gameplay and its small box, as the mountain cards are pretty large.

The game definitely works best with 3-5 players, as the heart of the game really lies in knocking players off mountains, going after the points you need, and keeping an eye on your opponents and where their goats are located.

Mountain Goats has an elegantly simple design. It’s a nice combination of luck, player interaction, and juggling the odds.

Pros: Player interaction, component quality, plenty of ways to mitigate dice rolls

Cons: Not at its best with two players, takes up more space than you’d expect

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