Rocket Man! (skiing to the bottom of the hill)
For some reason, I seem to have an affinity with small box games. It’s nice just to be able to get something out, have a good play for 15 minutes or so, and put it away again *insert smutty joke* (go on, you know you want to). For this reason I wanted to have a go at Avalanche on Yeti Mountain. The premise is that a bunch of boffins (A word I am campaigning to bring back into everyday language) got together and made themselves some rocket powered skis and decided to go and try them out on Yeti Mountain; assuming that the mountain just had a cool name. That wasn’t actually the case. It then becomes a race to the bottom, avoiding both the avalanche and the Yeti, and of course showing up your fellow scientists at the same time.
I have also noticed something I’d like to start sharing with you. A lot of my reviews have had soundtracks that I have listened to while playing; just to add a nice bit of theme and to amuse me. So, this week I have mostly been listening to….
the Ski Sunday theme song. Feel free to run it in the background while reading the review; trust me, it’ll sound awesome.
We’d best Ski-daddle…
Straight out of the box the components are really good quality. The card is made of good stock, the meeples look really good, the skiers look like skiers and the Yeti looks quite a lot like a Yeti. The cards have been stress tested by my 2 kids and they seem sturdy enough despite being bent and a little bit chewed while concentrating on the game. I think that says a lot for the manufacturing process.
Avalanche at Yeti Mountain is a chilly mountain breeze to set up. Deal 12 cards to make the course, deal 4 cards to each player, put the player meeples at the top of the mountain, along with the (very awesome) Yeti meeple, put the avalanche card at the “top” of the mountain and that’s it. No really, that’s it. You certainly can’t knock Green Couch Games for making it difficult to set up.
I’ve played the game with 1, 2, 3 and 4 players (I couldn’t rope a 5th in to have a go) and aside from the single player mode which has a different set of rules, Avalanche at Yeti Mountain plays virtually the same. You play a card from your hand of 4 and the card is numbered 1 to 5. You get to move the amount of spaces on the card you’ve played until you hit the bottom of the mountain. The only time this will not be the case is if someone rocket jumps or someone breaks the imposed speed limit. To save you lapsing into a coma reading lots of rules, and to get an understanding of how rocket jumps and the speed limit works then check out this link to the rules.
But what’s the point of the Yeti?
The Yeti is controlled by the player in last place and can be moved along his own little Yeti track (pictured below) down the mountain. If the Yeti passes through one of the spaces with a sunburst type effect on them and you happen to be in the way then the Big Bad Yeti breaks your ski’s. Bit unsporting if you ask me. If your skis get broken it means that you’re unable to rocket jump for the next turn (or more if you keep attacking someone with the Yeti), but as I have found out, this is not necessarily the end of the world.
The game is called Avalanche at Yeti Mountain! Where’s the avalanche?!?
The avalanche starts moving once a player performs a Rocket Jump for the first time. The noise of the rocket going off reverberates around the mountain and then gets the avalanche going. The avalanche is represented by a card with a number counter on it and increases by 1 every time a rocket jump is performed. Each of the cards have snow banks on them and these are the distances that the avalanche moves down. Unlike the Yeti, if you’re unlucky enough to be in the path of the avalanche while you’re skiing then that’s it; Goodnight Vienna, you become a Boffin Ice Cream and leave your fellow skiers to claim the victory. No second chances!
Since I do occasionally get questions about single player games I thought I would give the single player rules a blast to see if it was worthwhile. Instead of racing your fellow boffins down the mountain it becomes a race between you and the Yeti to see who gets to the bottom first for bragging rights and to not get eaten once you reach the finish.
The biggest difference is that you can play 2 of your own movement cards instead of just one to get down the mountain, but with that comes a caveat to make the game play a little more challenging; you have to play a speed which is within 2 of your previous speed otherwise you crash and are only able to move one space, so playing cards totaling 9 and 10 is a dangerous plan. The Yeti is controlled by the draw deck and moves the amount of spaces indicated on the drawn card. The only other main difference is that if you rocket jump over a card, you have to draw 2 cards for the Yeti to have a chance of keeping the stakes even.
So is this game a smooth swish down the mountain or a pile of Yeti Poo? For me, it’s neither, but it’s definitely closer to the latter. It would be grossly unfair of me to say that Avalanche at Yeti Mountain is a bad game, because it’s not. However, the box gameplay time says it’s around half an hour but even when learning the rules we were done in 20 minutes, and once you have a handle on them the game can be played in 10. I occasionally like quick playing games, but Yeti Mountain is not one of them. I don’t think the gameplay is solid or varied enough for this to see lots of table time in my house. It’s the kind of game which would be picked up for novelty but would lose it very quickly. There is replay value since the course is always different but I suspect that my kids would enjoy it more than me after a very short time.
I like the fact that they have incorporated a single player variant as this seems to be something which is requested by people more and more recently so it was a good idea to go down this route, but the game could have done with a little more depth. I have played the game nearly a dozen times now and I think it will need some time for the novelty to return before busting it out again. For me the worst thing is that in none of the games we played were any of us in any danger of being knocked out of the game by the titular avalanche. We were always a country mile down the mountain before it ever really came in to play. Maybe if there was a little more threat from it, Avalanche at Yeti Mountain would be a little more tense and interesting to play, so some house rules could be in order.
So, is Avalanche at Yeti Mountain for you? It entirely depends on your age I think. This is ideal for 6-10 year olds or adults that have a very low attention span or liking for tabletop games.
If you’d like to check out Avalanche at Yeti Mountain for yourself then purchase yourself a copy from your always friendly local game shop:
If you’d like to check out some more information about the game and get some more opinions then check out either the publishers site or the BGG page linked below:
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I am just a regular guy that fell into board gaming. That's why I am no longer allowed in my local Toys R Us. I'm a huge fan of deckbuilding games and games with unusual themes or mechanics. OK, maybe I'm not that regular after all.