Monday, May 17, 2010

Review -- SHERPA


There is a somewhat famous line about a mountain climber being asked why they climbed. The answer was something like “because it’s there.”
Now I can’t see I’ve ever understood the sentiment, although one can appreciate the idea of the adventurous nature of humankind to go up a mountain where they can literally touch the clouds, or reach for the gods of old. There is much mysticism and adventure and legend and lore to climbing.
Now most of us are not going to step onto the face of a mountain, let alone the greatest of them all, Mount Everest, first climbed in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, making it one of the more recent triumphs of man over the wonders of nature.
Locally the great mountain has had a lot of interest since David Rodney, formally from Yorkton has twice climbed the mountain.
Now for the rest of us, there is an option to actually climbing the great peak. We can have some fun with an Everest-climbing feel by playing Sherpa.
The premise of the game is pretty simple. A player is responsible for a team of mountaineers whose objective is to reach the top of Everest, and of course ahead of the others in the game.
Players must manage a climb much as is done in real life, establishing supply camps essential to a climb, as well as controlling your human and material resources while facing the dangers of the mountain.
It is in the area of dangers the game does wander into the realm of fantasy as strange creature wanders the mountain, including the Yeti.
I might have stayed with a more realistic approach. The threat of storms, snow blindness, exhaustion, injury, avalanche, running short of supplies and more are all real threats climbing the great mountain. When you look at the list do you really need an abominable snowman?
The game relies heavily on the luck of card draws, although when you do consider how a misstep on Everest can mean death as opposed to success, the climb would seem heavily reliant on luck in real life too.
Game play is by tile placement.
Players have six characters of their color – two sherpas, two guides, and two yaks, along with a corresponding board that shows the characters.
Resource tokens of three types; ice axes, oxygen, and food, are placed on the empty spaces on the character board corresponding with the characters in the party. In game terms yaks can carry three things, sherpas two, and guides one.
Players hold four cards, and the game begins.
From there card play largely determines progress up the mountain, with most decisions rather obvious.
The game has a solid enough premise, but comes up a little light in terms of game play. You expect a bit more if you are really hoping to mimic the tough decisions of climbing Everest.
Sherpa was designed by Marc Beaudoin and first released in 2007 by Magma Éditions ( )

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar. 31, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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