Designer: Adam Kaluza
K2 is a great game - let's just start there. It's fairly simple to play, it's not too competitive and has a great theme. You have two climbers that are attempting to climb the mountain K2, the deadliest climbing peak in the world. The higher your climbers make it, the more Victory Points you achieve. Your final score is the sum of the Victory Points of each climber, so you don't even have to reach the summit, and it's very likely that one or neither of your climbers will.
In order to climb higher you have to manage your climbers movement points, choose the best path upward and watch the weather forecast. That's right - storms will roll in very quickly and will wipe your little meeple off of the face of the mountain. Storms and higher elevations will both cost you Acclimatization Points, which you'll have to restore using the limited number of cards in your hand. If a climber's Acclimatization Points ever reach zero, the poor bloke suffocates and/or freezes to death. I'm not sure which happens first, but the end result is a meeple popsicle which will give you a whopping zero Victory Points.
K2's game mechanics are great, but the real fun of the experience is the tight integration with the game's theme. If this were an abstract game, I don't think it would be nearly as fun. Something about the threat of such a terrible death, and only have two climbers to work with, adds a lot of tension to what is in reality a very simple game. You'll find yourself performing extremely simple arithmetic in your head over and over and over again, because you know that if you miscalculate by even a smidge, your climber will die. The game adds just a little bit of luck with some card drawing, but really forces you to weigh your options and make smart, conservative choices.
ADAM KALUZA'S SURVIVAL SERIES
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