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Subject: Mountaineering Madness - Broad Peak broadens the appeal rss

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Roger Fawcett
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Northwich
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Broad Peak is the expansion to the excellent (IMHO) game K2.

Whilst K2 is about conquering the world’s second highest peak, the expansion is about K2’s neighbour eight kilometres away, Broad Peak, still one of the world’s tallest mountains at 8051 metres. It was first climbed in 1957 by an Austrian team that included Kurt Diemberger who wrote one of my favourite climbing books, The Endless Knot, about K2.

The game itself has two parts – Race to the Top and Broad Peak Traverse. There are also some new twists to the game that keep it fresh such as digging snow holes and traverse tokens. This review assumes that the reader understands the original game. I have already written a review about it here.

Race to the Top

Emulating the exploits of Krzysztof Wielicki, the first man to conquer an 8000m peak ‘alpine style’, this expansion rewards speed on the ascent. ‘Alpine Style’ means a single, quick ascent in which the climber or climbers are self-sufficient rather than relying on a back up team. For many years it was thought that the opposite style, known as ‘Siege Tactics’, was the only way to succeed in the Himalayas where the mountains are spectacularly huge and logistically complex. This involved literally besieging the mountain with men, tents and equipment (notably fixed ropes almost the entire height of the mountain). However, as men and women have pushed the boundaries of physical and mental strength it has become increasingly common for small, fast teams to attempt Himalayan mountaineering.

So speed is the game in the Race to the Top expansion. To put the climber under more pressure one of the weather tiles is removed so that the climb only lasts 21 turns. It is the best weather tile in the summer version and one chosen at random in the winter scenario. Other than that the rules are similar to the original game only excepting the fact that climbers cannot pitch tents (see Snow Holes below). The ascent follows the route that Wielicki originally took up the mountain.

Snow Holes

There is not the option to pitch tents in the Race to the Top scenario. One of the features of alpine style climbing is the ability to travel light. Climbers will often bivouac on the mountain (i.e. sleep in the open) instead of carrying the extra weight of a tent. Another option is to take a shovel and dig a hole. The option of digging a snow hole is available in this game. Like a tent a snow hole aids the climbers’ acclimatisation by one point. However only one climber can occupy a snow hole at a time and they disappear (or need to be dug again) after two nights.

Broad Peak Traverse

In mountaineering terms a traverse means going from one side of the mountain or range of mountains to the other. Broad Peak has three separate peaks as the name suggests and linking all these together and descending on the opposite side of the mountain is what the game simulates. There are extra points for doing so (see Traverse tokens below). Visiting each of the three peaks rewards the players with victory point tokens which have not been a feature of the K2 game so far. The points for ascending to the highest position on the mountain are still available. This deals with one of the most disappointing aspects of the original game, being that you can time your ascent of the mountain for the end of the game and you do not need to bother about survival after that. With the traverse scenario you will benefit from reaching the other side and descending, whilst getting bonus points for visiting the most peaks and doing so earlier than other players. The tokens that mark the three separate summits give out victory points, the most points going to both the highest summit and the first to reach it. However, if you want to reach the highest peak first you have to ascend the mountain by the hardest route, the right hand side of the board. I did this on my first attempt and almost died. This is not an easy scenario at all.

Traverse Tokens

For each player there are two tokens to collect to show that you have completed the traverse. You pick up one token as you approach the mountain on the ascent and the second shortly before reaching base camp again on the other side. If you collect both tokens you may then add 2 victory points per summit according to how many summit tokens you have also collected. So there are a possible 6 points on offer. I think this is a great little addition to the game, encouraging bold, fast play and ensuring that players also try for summits and not just traversing at low level. Mountaineering is about getting to the top after all.

Conclusion

I really think that this little expansion adds a great deal to the game. It is not just another board for the sake of it. There are stories behind the climbs which you can read about in the rule booklet and the little extra ideas – snow caves and traversing – are excellent ideas, fully in keeping with the philosophy and experience of mountaineering. Variety is always a good thing and adds to the replayability of the game. Perhaps there will be other mountains in the future – there are fourteen 8000m peaks after all, and then perhaps the seven summits – the highest one on each continent. I would particularly like to see Denali (or Mount McKinley) in Alaska, which is the highest mountain in the north American continent. It is reputed to be incredibly difficult to climb due to its latitude, certainly on a par with most of the Himalayan giants. The window of good weather needed to climb it is very rare.

A great little expansion for a great little game.


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Andy Andersen
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Thanks. I bought K2 for my wife as she used to do search and rescue and will get this when it gets to the US.
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Ernest S
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Great review. I play & enjoy K2 and am looking forward to getting this expansion, once it is avaliable in the USA. I like the way you tie the aspects of the game to aspects of real mountain climbing (alpine vs seige, the 14-8000ers & hitting summits, even during traverses, etc). This added to my enjoyment in reading your review.
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Roger Fawcett
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Thanks for your feedback. Btw I have now edited the review and put in the link to my K2 review which wasn't there before.
 
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