Publisher: Summit Games LLC
Game Designer: Kevin Fowler
Artwork: Kevin Fowler
Ages: 12 and up
Playing Time: 30-60 minutes
Game Mechanics: Deck Building, Dice Rolling, Player Elimination, Role Playing, Simulation
Contents: One full color rules booklet, mounted game board, 104 cards, 42 XP tokens, 40 character sheets, 3 black summit markers, 28 summit markers, 16 gear markers, 4 reference cards, 2 D6
Suggested Retail Price: $50
Parental Advisory: Safe for children
For nearly half a millennia mankind has tested its mettle against the mountain, seeking to best Mother Nature at her own game by overcoming her dangers to enjoy her majesty. Beginning with modest Mont Aiguille in the late 15th century, man reached for the sky and stood atop the pinnacle of terra firma for the first time, the peak Mount Everest in 1953.
Since that time, thousands have made the perilous and expensive trek to the top of the world. It has been the subject of books and movies, including the latest film Everest, which chronicles the 1996 climb that claimed 8 lives. Now you can enjoy the thrill of conquering the world’s toughest climbs from the safety of your game room in the quick playing game 7 Summits.
Summary of Content
I received a production copy of 7 Summits from designer Kevin Fowler which is currently available for purchase from The Game Crafter. The game board is of good quality and what you’d expect from The Game Crafter, as is the art on the board and cards which are also solid quality. You won’t need to sleeve the cards because the climbing card shuffles are simple and won’t place much wear on the cards. The wooden chevrons for marking the mountains climbed are pretty neat and very fitting thematically, I see them as representing your camp at the summit after conquering the mountain before the long haul back to civilization.
One niggle I have is with the XP tokens, they’re the small plastic mini poker chips and while they serve their purpose they do feel a bit cheap considering the price of the overall game. It’s not a game breaker but something I think could have been served better with a more quality component or a better price point from The Game Crafter.
Analysis and Evaluation
7 Summits offers both competitive and solitaire modes in a game with a very unique theme, mountain climbing. We’re not just talking about any ordinary mountains either but seven of the toughest summits to stand atop in the world, including the most glorious of all, Mount Everest.
While it’s not the only game to tackle the subject, 7 Summits is the latest and is from designer Kevin Fowler, a seasoned mountaineer himself. Kevin has climbed three of the perilous peaks modeled in the game; Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and Aconcagua and half of the ‘14ers’ (greater than 14,000 feet) in Colorado. So this design is not only from the mind but also the heart and the hard earned lessons gained from those real mountains.
There are in actuality 10 mountains presented in the game because the top seven are disputed for both geographical and political reasons. With four challenge lists, you’ll have a varied bit of climbing to do each time you crack open the game, I recommend starting with list #1; Kosciuszko, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson Massif, Aconcagua, Denali and Everest.
The goal of the game is to be the first to climb each of the 7 summits or be the last one still alive in a multiplayer game and in solitaire mode, you’ll be shooting for personal best high score. Yes, you can be eliminated if your characters health falls below 0 but thankfully, health can be regained by spending XP to build it back up.
Accomplishing the goals of conquering each summit in the game is all about management, managing your capabilities and gear tempered with a bit of push your luck dice rolling. Each turn you choose a mountain to climb, adjust any gear you’ve purchased to protect you from hazards and then deal with acclimatization and bad weather/hazard checks that get increasingly perilous with each mountain.
The journey up the mountain is carried out by a two card draw from your face down, eight card climber deck, using the sum of the values given to meet or beat the mountain’s movement requirement. If you succeed, you move to the next stage of the climb, if you fail you stay where you are for that turn. Climber cards can be replaced after you’ve gained XP from successful climbs, which adds a lite deck building aspect to the game.
You’ll need to maximize your efficiency by gaining the skills and gear you need along with keeping your health above zero with the limited XP earned from each climb. You can repeat climbs for more XP but it will penalize your score in solitaire while slowing you down in multiplayer, giving you some tough choices to make and that’s what’s so fun. Do you take the safe route and climb an easy mountain again for more XP or do you gamble and roll the dice with a weaker ability if you want to be the first through that challenge list?
Each mountain poses its own unique dangers with higher skills always needed, so you’ll need to weigh the odds of what is necessary versus what can be risked but it won’t be easy or painless. Chancing altitude sickness from improper acclimatization may cost you 1d6 points of health while hazards without the proper gear can outright kill you on a bad 2d6 roll!
Being first to the top of the mountain is dangerous business and this is something that 7 Summits models, in a simplified and abstract manner, very well. Forcing you to evaluate the different dangers that each mountain poses before you do your climber’s upgrades and will definitely appeal to those who enjoy resource management games because you have to decide which abilities (resources) to increase while gambling on those that are not quite where they need to be in the race to be the first to the top of the 7 Summits.
7 Summits offers both an interesting topic and a challenging but lite management problem for gamers to solve that will require good preparation with a bit of luck, just as it does on the real life climbs. I quite enjoy the game, especially for solitaire as it plays lightning quick and you can get through a couple of lists in about an hour, unless you face an avalanche of bad rolls, then you could be in for a much more difficult journey!
What I found the most enjoyable about 7 Summits was not just the management challenge and the risk taking through dice rolls but the narrative that evolves from the game, similar to what I experience when playing GMT Games, The Hunters. You can see the story unfolding in your mind as you plan and measure the odds, managing your limited capabilities, building what you can and taking chances on the rest. It’s a safe but very fun way to live the life of a daredevil mountaineer.
Adding one more challenge in this arduous journey is an easy climb, a special week long crowd funding project that launches on Monday October 26 over at The Game Crafter. Starting with the first sale, the price of 7 Summits drop by 10% and then continues down to its lowest price of $32.33 after 100 people purchase the game, that’s a big savings of 35%, which brings the game in line with what its target cost should be. So if this sounds like a great match for you, head on over to the sales page on Monday morning and be sure to grab a copy at a discount but don’t hesitate, this is a one week only sale!
Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):
Rules Book: 9
Component Quality: 7
Club Fantasci Overall Score: 7.8
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
I’m giving 7 Summits 7.8 out of 10 stars because it is a fun game to play in both solitaire and multiplayer that’s also quite family friendly. It’s an easy game to get to the table, with very well written rules and as an added bonus, Kevin Fowler has provided an excellent video to help you learn the game from on the game page at The Game Crafter. Games average around 20-30 minutes in solitaire mode and around 45 minutes with four players.
If you are a fan of the subject matter or enjoy resource management games with a bit of risk taking and are looking for a fast playing and enjoyable simulation of mountain climbing, this is definitely one to grab!
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