A K2 Fan

K2 was one of those games that I bought and reviewed as soon as I’d played it. I also snapped up the expansion Broad Peak at Essen in 2011 and reviewed the base game and expansion on our podcast. So in short, I’m a big fan of the game.

Broad Peak: wot no weather tiles?

With the Broad Peak expansion, however, there was a hint of disappointment: surely new weather tiles were one of the obvious things to put in the box? If there’s one question that’s always asked about the game it’s replayability and, with a fixed set of weather tiles in the game, it’s easy to memorise them and know what’s coming up on the final three days before the tile’s been uncovered.

Avalanche!!!

Enter “The Avalanche” which consists of nothing other than four weather tiles, two for winter and two for summer. (Pictured below, courtesy of Rafal Szczepkowski aka cnidius.)

Notice the different symbol on one of the weather spaces on each tile. It looks like a cloud on a slope, and it represents the avalanche. The rules for how the avalanche works are simple: if a climber ends their turn on a weather space affected by the avalanche and they’re not in a tent, then they’re swept one space down the mountain.

Ride that snow wave

Thematically, the climbers seem to be getting off lightly. Getting hit by an avalanche does nothing more than sends you down the mountain a bit? Bring it on, I say. And it’s nice to have up to six days warning that it’s going to happen too.

In practice I’ve tried using it as a way to quickly descend, and on one occasion it’s helped me get down from the mountain quicker and save a movement point. (And also in practice, I’ve died later through lack of acclimatisation points…) As the title says: I believe this is thematically dubious, but it does prevent the avalanche having disastrous effects.

How it plays

So, putting aside the viability of avalanche surfing in the real world for one moment, how does it change the game? Put simply, it makes the timing of ascent, descent and tent-building even more critical than it already was in the game.

Dodging the bad weather has always been the key to scoring well in K2 and this adds another variable: plan things badly and get caught in the avalance and you could end up being swept down a space and have to spend 2 or 3 movement points to get back up. Ouch (in game terms). It also makes tents more important, even in the summer weather game where they weren’t often necessary before.

Finally, the rules for putting the avalanche tiles in are: shuffle the six original weather tiles, remove two, add the new ones, and re-shuffle. This adds to the unpredictability of the game no-end since you can less often know what the last tile is. Play a variant where you shuffle all eight tiles and pick six and you really have no idea what’s going to come up last, or whether you’re going to get any avalanches at all.

You should get it

If you’re a regularly K2 player then you really should get these tiles. Even if you ignore the avalanche rules entirely and just treat it as two new weather tiles to choose from then it adds to the game. Personally, I like the extra variety the new rules add (and I also love planning my avalanche surfing), but for now this is the best way to extend the life of your K2 game.