Benjamin Schwer for Pegasus Spiele; YETI: a mountain climbing game for 2-5 players aged 8+
From the comic box art, YETI, at first sight, looks to be a lightweight family game. Then when you open the box and put the card formed snowy mountain centrepiece together your first impression is virtually confirmed, for it is visually reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s children's games from companies like IDEAL, MATTEL and WADDINGTONS.
The pieces are viably acceptable, the YETI and the base tents being assembled by two split card pieces and the mountaineers are shaped wood and we think that perhaps a set of stickers would be visually more pleasing for the younger player’s eyes. The score markers are regular round coloured wood tablets, the board is in two halves that are just a fraction too large to put into the box without splitting them apart and the dice are unique to the game, with sides showing a Sherpa, Footprints (2), Tents, Gold and Snow falling. Side-boards are Photo opportunities (fixed) and Equipment (tiles). There are also 6 Weather tiles to use in the variant but in our experience these are more an irritant than an enhancement. Lastly there are 5 Peak additional score tiles and player overview cards.
Play begins with the Mountaineers setting their camps on one of the sites on the flat areas of the board. Then one player is chosen (last one to climb Everest perhaps ?) as Start player and they roll all 7 dice. Now using a fairly well known mechanic the player possibly has several rolls to save dice to use this turn. Any SNOW must be put aside, and then the player may choose one of the other faces showing and set them aside, all of one type. The remaining dice are rolled again, even if the player would like to keep all of them, as only one face type can/must be saved each turn. The first player to the top of the peak takes the highest value VP token from there, players may only have one of these Peak VP tokens so the others can be collected as other players reach the top.
Eventually a set of dice is collected and the player uses them according to the results. SNOW dice have no effect if only up to 2 have been saved, if 3 are rolled then one may be turned to any side on one of the die the player wants over 3 snow has a similar effect to only 3 except the odd dice will affect the turn of the other players.
Gold/coins allow the players to buy equipment or buy VPs (from the photo board). Owning Equipment has two possible advantages as Equipment can be bought from the board or from the player who currently owns it, and they score VPs according to the Equipment’s value.
Sherpas allow the Mountaineer to climb the mountain and tents allow them to stay on the mountain, though perhaps not as high up as they scaled. The Footprints score 1 VP for each showing, and these can be multiplied by the value of the level reached – this being counted even if the mountaineer then has to move back down the mountain. I like this because so many other games don’t count VPs until the end of the round and thus you can strive hard to gain them and then lose them immediately – here there are no recriminations for going down the mountain, VPs are not lost.
The YETI is only a game end piece and has no other purpose in the play which is a bit of a shame, especially as the art shows a grinning Yeti throwing snowballs. The YETI begins on the 50th space of the score track and the game ends when one player reaches or passes him. He moves on 6 spaces every time there is a Blizzard – ie when more than 3 SNOW are rolled.
The YETI/Himalayas chrome is good and it fits the mechanics perfectly well. The game is fun and although not a particularly hard challenge it does force the players to make choices (of the dice) and think about what they want to do in their turn. This may be automatic for core and regular board gamers but is a good introduction into the world of Euro games for younger and new players.