Mount Everest Review

You’ve done it all. You’ve climbed every mountain, no peak is too high. Time to retire? No, no! One last job. The challenge of challenges: to drag fat tourists up a mountain, to the top of the world: Mount Everest.

What you get for your money:
A double-sided board with an easy and a hard side, 10 guide boards (2 of each colour), 15 pawns (3 of each colour), 10 camp tiles (2 of each colour), 120 cards (24 of each colour), 12 weather tiles (6 winter and 6 summer), 12 icefall tiles, 20 risk tokens, 30 oxygen tokens and 40 tourist and 40 mountaineer tokens, a weather marker, a starting player tile and the rules.
How do you play the game:
You are a very experienced mountain guide (actually two), you’re practically immortal and your job is to guide rich tourists or less experienced mountaineers to the top of Mount Everest and back. You’ll have to protect yourself against extreme weather conditions and the harsh climate on that mountain.
The board shows the Mount Everest and the different routes to the top. These routes are divided into several areas. Every player has two guides and both those guides can carry a tent, oxygen and clients onto the mountain. They start at the foot, they can pick up clients there and equip themselves for the trek. Tourists are less resistant to the harsh conditionson the mountain than the mountaineers, but they are more lucrative. When everyone is ready you can move from one area to the next by spending movement points.
Players have the same deck of movement cards, they draw up to six cards each turn, choose three and then spend those movement points. There are upward and downward movement points and some cards even have both (rope cards). Players choose the cards at the same time and reveal them simultaneously. The player with the most upward movement points gets a risk token, a penalty (0, -1, -2 points) that he has to add to one of his cards.
It gets more and more difficult to move as you get closer to the top and less and less guides can stop in the same area.
Just below 6000 meters there’s an icefall zone. This zone is different every game and contains easy, difficultand even impassablezones/ tiles. The tiles are face-down at first and turned over the first time someone enters that area.
It’s important that your clients are well acclimatized, because when you have to stop in a certain area on the mountain you have to deal with the weather or specific harsh conditions in that area. These condition can have a negative impact on the health of your clients. You yourself cannot die, but your clients can. You can prevent that by letting them acclimatize below 6000 meters, let them shelter in your camp or use oxygen (only possible in a camp). When you use oxygen you must draw a couple of card from another personal deck of cards, the acclimatization deck. You can exchange one of these cards with a card from your regular deck and spend the acclimatization points that are shown. You’ll keep track of the acclimatization per client on your guides player board.
When you and your clients reach the top they will give you points. A mountaineer will give you 2 points and a tourist 3. After that, when you arrive, again, at the foot, they will give you again 2 and/ or 3 points.
Whenever a clients acclimatization points fall below one, he dies and will give you negative points. A mountaineer -3 and tourist -4 points.
If your are able you may take several trips to the summit and back down again with different clients, but don’t let them die on the mountain. The game takes eighteen rounds and every round has different weather conditions. After the last round, the person with the most points wins Mount Everest.
Climbing a mountain is hard, itbecomes increasingly difficult to moveand to breath. You have your tents, your oxygen and the rest of your gear. The icefall region is treacherous but you’ve climbed that mountain more than once, you know what you’re doing.
The tourists might be enjoying the view, but you have only one goal, to reach the summit and keep these people alive. It’s pure business.
That’s how this game feels, pure business. You know what the dangers are and you know how to deal with them. You’ve planned everything ahead, but sometimes the mountain just won’t cooperate.
The idea of mountaineering is there, but they feel of the game lacks the adrenaline. 

The funny/ weird thing is that when you just let four people die up there, you can just walk down, whistling, and you just go like: “Yeah, four dead, yeah. Forgot my oxygen. Bummer. And my tent was just 100 meters away, but I couldn’t get there in time. Too tired. Yeah, I forgot a storm was coming. Left them. Better luck next time, ay.. I think I know what to do now. Just come with me. I’m really getting better. Competent. Look at my jacket, it’s all bright yellow and stuff, super legit. 10 Euro and a chocolate bar and I’ll guide you”

 “Here you go, 10 Euro and you’ll get the chocolate bar when we return.”

This is a thinky game. You have to plan ahead. You have to know what you are doing, because one miscalculation can kill one or more of your clients and points aren’t up for grabs.
The game is divided into two phases, at least in my experience. Firstly you prepare everything, get your tents to the right locations and  bring oxygen with you to the camps. Yes, you might take one client with you and leave him in a tent to acclimatize, but the big groups will picked up when the preparations are done.
Then you will set of with groups of three or more clients and then there’s a lot at stake. A death client will cost you a lot of points. You cannot race to the top. Calculate every move, manage your hand well, check the current as well as the future weather and  look at your opponent, they might move to the same spot and you may not be allowed to end up there at the end of your turn.  
There are a lot of interesting decisions to be made. How much risk do you want to take? Do you take only mountaineers or do think you are able to get a busload of high scoring tourists to the top and down. When do you start using oxygen and exchange movement cards with acclimatization card. There are some cards with two values, 2 up and 4 down. Do I need 2 up or do I wait and use the 4 down later? This game is a balancing act.
I do not like the risk tokens, I don’t really see why you have to be punished when you have the most upward movement points. Yes, you’re reckless, but you already are punished later on in the game when you haven’t got enough movement points left to get to your camp in time before a storm hits and your clients aren’t acclimatized enough when that happens.
These tokens do add an element of surprise. Sort of, because the tokens are visible and face up on the table.
I think you have a big advantage when you’ve played the game once or more over those who did not. Because mistakes in the location of your camp and starting to guide big groups to the top too early can cost you a lot of points and probably the game.
I also think that this game should be played at with at least three and is at its best with four players. That’s because of the guide limit in the four zones of the mountain. There are basically three routes to the top, with different pros and cons and when you are with four players you are working more against each other.
The guide limit is the only interactive part of the game and it’s not even really interactive. This is a multi-player solitaire game for the most part.
If you find it too easy you can use winter weather tiles (or some of them) and/ or use the difficult side of the board. That’s nice. The rules are not the best ones out there. Some important things are put in there as notes  and as a reference the book it wasn’t always very useful.
If you’ve played K2, another game from this designer, you probably see a lot of similarities. The biggest differences are the scoring system, the separate acclimatization deck and the rope cards. In Mount Everest you don’t score during the climb, but only at the top and the foot of the mountain and you have to use oxygen to ‘purchase’ an acclimatization card. Also, the rope cards can only be used in one direction. Both games are about staying alive on a mountain. This game takes it to another level, because of the scoring system. You have to go to the top to score points, you can’t just stop halfway and read a couple of books in your tent.
The board is a picture of the Mount Everest. You can easily see the different areas you can go to and the symbols in those areas are clear. I do find it irritating that while different players can place a camp in the same area, there is only room for 2 camp tiles. This is a bit confusing at times.
The card illustrations are pretty nice and the player boards are too.
As a whole I’m not really fond of the appearance. Too much blue, grey and white. Too monotonous. You probably will say: “This is what Mount Everest looks like!”, I know, Mount Everest has very little orange, yellow and green spots, but in combination with the symbols and the taut boundaries of the different areas, it looks a bit too clean. It looks good, but it’s very monotonous and I hardly dare to say: too cold..
Quality of the components
A lot of good cardboard pieces. A good quality board. I’m not a fan of the cards, because I like linen cards, but they are fine.
This was an Essen 2013 buy. I did not know very much about it, I thought it looked interesting and it was on my wanted list. I have not played the game while I was there, I just walked past their booth at the end of the day and I bought it in an impulse. 

It’s, indeed, a very interesting and also very hard game. It rewards planning and points are scarce and easily lost if you mess up. Death is constantly lurking around the corner and that tension is nice.

A drawback is that there is little to no player interaction. It’s just you against the mountain. Thematic, yes, but not really fun. Almost everything can be planned ahead and there are no real surprises during the game. The only things that might interfere with your plans are the risk tokens.  
I, also, don’t like the scoring system very much. Nothing is really wrong with it in terms of mechanisms, but I think it is more fun when you see your score grow during a game. Now you’re stuck at your initial score the first half of the game.
I like Euro games, so I quite like planning and things like that, but in this game it’s a little too much. The combination a lack of interaction and the fact that you’re doing the same every turn, makes that this game wasn’t a real success.  
I’m just going through the motions. I feel that once you get to the good, risky and fun stuff, guiding groups of people to the top, you’re already halfway through the game. The game pace is extremely slow. Mountaineering should be more thrilling.
As I already said, Mount Everest is a very interesting game in theory, but in practice, in terms of fun, I’m not very impressed. It’s not terrible, but just very average. A little more adrenaline please..


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