Snow Tails Reviewed

So what could possibly be wrong with hurtling through snowy wastes risking life and limb for the glory of the race? Nothing right?

What’s in the box?

The box contains several double sided sections of track printed on sturdy cardboard and depicting snowy scenes on bends, corners and straights. The artwork evokes a feeling of anticipation of the mayhem to come. There are also 5 wooden sleds in 5 colours and a whole bunch of green wooden trees that you can smash into smithereens as your sled careers dramatically out of control. Ace.

Each sled also has its own sturdy cardboard representation upon which you place your canine cards to control steering and braking.

What’s it like to play?

The rules are fairly straightforward. Each sled is pulled by two huskies and has a brake, the values of which go up or down dependant on the placings of the Canine Cards (which have values from 1-5) upon the sled representation. Huskies on one side of a sled that are stronger (higher Canine Card value) than huskies on the other side will cause the sled to drift, which is vital for navigating ravines, snow drifts and trees. Impacts result in the acquisition of a Dent Card, which contribute to the maximum hand size of 5, thus affecting options for manoeuvrability.

I have a feeling that enjoyment of this game is largely dependent on your opponents. Myself, I go “Woof woof!!, Arrrgh!! Crunch, Smash, Splinter, YELP YELP, AWW AWWOOOOO!!!” As I plough through trees, picking up dent cards and swerving off the track. My wife, whom I reviewed this game with, slows her sleds down to a halt to carefully crawl between the trees.

In fact, a certain amount of analysis paralysis crept in with her. Bends can only be approached at a certain speed to prevent the acquisition of Dent Cards, and the spaces on the bends cease to become parallel and are staggered as a necessity to ensure fairness in cornering. Movement and drift on these spaces isn’t exactly intuitive and races grind to a shuddering halt as my wife considers all her options. Indeed, on one occasion it felt like I’d married a ZX81 so laborious were her moves. “Mush woman, MUSH!” I screamed.

But only in the privacy of my own head, as I value my testicles.

Summary

Much fun is to be had with this game, provided you play with the right gamers. Thoughtful, sensible gamers may not appreciate the rough and tumble and relative absence of forward-planning and strategy. But that’s not the point; you’re hurtling along, being dragged by rabid dogs, frantically applying the brakes as you approach a bank of trees. As a reflection of real-life seat of the pants stuff, it’s accurate in that there would be little forward planning other than: go as fast as you can whilst avoiding the obstacles. A 20 second timer for moves would add to the fun and the mayhem of the moves in my opinion and prevent the game slowing down (rather than the lame “Big Paws” – geddit? Token designed to shame slower players into speeding up).

The Canine Cards give a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to planning movement than other similar games (such as a die-roll in Formula De for example), and overall the game has a great feel to it and is quite attractive. Ultimately it’s a light, frothy game suitable for the big kid in us all, but maybe not as suitable for hardcore gamers in that it takes a little too long to play to be a “filler” in between other games.

Publisher: Asmodee

Players: 2-5

Age: 10+

Playing Time: 45 minutes

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One Comment to “Snow Tails Reviewed”

  1. Nice review Alan.

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