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Subject: Fun and Cheap Game rss

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Tej S
United States
Los Gatos
California
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I first played this game in GameKastle in Santa Clara, CA during the summer. I loved the game then, and decided to go out and pick up a copy today since I just heard it had been released, and I had some gamer friends coming over. It was only $20(+tax). We played several 3-player games, but the game is recommended for 4-6 players.

Gameplay

The game board consists of columns of cards that are flipped over to reveal differing handholds. The 'board' wraps, so you can move from the column on one end directly to the column on the other end. The characters (humorous outtakes on fictional characters from popular tv shows) each have their own strengths and weaknesses corresponding to different types of handholds.

The rounds have two phases: (1) the climbing phase, and (2) the action phase.

The climbing phase, during which players move/climb, is played in clockwise order from the player with the start card. Players can climb left, right, or up. The amount they can move is based on stamina which decreases in the top half of the 'mountain'. How much stamina used for each move is based on the handhold you're moving onto. They can also clip in on certain handholds, which determines how far a player will fall if they try to climb to a handhold that requires too much stamina.

The action phase, during which players select action cards for their next turn, is played in counter-clockwise order from the last player during the climbing phase. This seems to be a fair trade off between climbing order and action card selecting order. It can, however, get a bit confusing switching between counter-clockwise and clockwise for the different phases. The start player card is one of the action cards, and can be selected to change who starts the climbing phase first during the next round.

Overall, the gameplay is fairly simple. Read the instructions for more detailed information. The game is quick, and does not take long to learn.

Strategy

We've only played a few games so far, but a large part of the game involves taking calculated risks. Each column contains one of each hold, so you can calculate how many good/bad holds are left for your character in each column based on how many have been revealed. We tried one variant where you remove one at random, but that makes the game much more luck-based and shorter.

Another key aspect to strategy seems to be getting above another player so they have to spend stamina/turns moving to the side to get around you. They can also use action cards to move diagonally or jump above you. We chose to use a variant where moving to the side to a revealed hold only costs one stamina regardless of the hold type. We felt that made it easier to remain competitive once a player was above you.

Theme

I personally love the rock climbing theme of this game. I have only climbed at indoor gyms and did not know most of the terms used in this game beforehand. One of the two friends I played with has gone with me, and though he has climbed less, he seemed to have a better grasp of the terms than I. I don't think my other friend had climbed before, but he had no trouble picking up the game.

Artwork

I'm not all that big on artwork, but it's pretty good. They did a great job of capturing the likeness of the characters used.

Problems

My biggest problem with this game is the quality of the cards. It's possible it's just my copy, but the backs of the cards vary in colors quite a bit. The cards are essentially marked. It's not enough to ruin the game, unless you have someone who is going to try to remember which card is which.



This picture isn't the best quality, but it's clear that some of the cards are quite noticeably redder than others. This is a picture of the action cards, for which the difference is the greatest, but the rock-hold cards differed somewhat too. Fortunately the action cards do not matter as much, as they are pulled in order from the deck. However, the rock-hold cards do differ enough that I might learn some of the holds if I paid attention.

The game is from a small publisher, so it's a bit understandable though disappointing.

Overall Impressions

I like this game. And for $20, it was a must buy for me. It's fun, quick, and cheap. The quality of the prints leaves a bit to be desired, but does not ruin the game. I feel like it would be a good game to play with non-gamers, and I am happy to have added it to my collection.
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Kenneth Chan
United States
Conway
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Nice review =) I've been waiting CSI to get this in before I place my Christmas order with them.

Question about the cards: What size are the cards and could sleeving the cards resolve the problems with the "marked" backs?
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Tej S
United States
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Can't find a ruler at the moment, but they fit perfectly in my old MTG Dragon Shield sleeves.
Sleeving would certainly help, but you'll either have to use clear ones, which won't help as much, or several different colors, as there are 11 hold cards for each of the 6 tracks. The hold cards aren't that bad though, so even the slight tint from clear sleeves should be enough. And it doesn't really help much to know the action cards.
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Michael Lachtanski
United States
San Jose
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Hi Tej,

Those discolored cards are not normal. Send me a PM with the list of cards that are "off" and your address and we will send you replacements.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Mike - Scimitar Games

PS - The cards are standard size - 3.5 x 2.5. We originally planned to make them smaller to reduce the footprint of the game, but feedback from the playtesters was that they wanted a standard size so they could sleeve the cards.
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