The studio behind Dinosaur Island and Machi Koro are hitting the slopes for their newest upcoming board game. Skull Canyon: Ski Fest sets players loose on a mountain to gather fame, clinch records and dodge a wandering yeti.
Published by Pandasaurus, Skull Canyon: Ski Fest will combine a few familiar mechanics in its design that players of Ticket to Ride or Tokaido will recognise. The core is a set collection game wherein the players must trade in cards to complete runs, but once the sun goes down everyone heads back to town for some recuperation and planning for the next day.
Sessions will typically last about an hour and bring 2 to 4 players into the winter sports-loving town at the base of Skull Canyon. Each will earn victory points and fame by completing any of the numerous runs on the slopes, which range across three difficulties. Harder runs require more matching sets, but the payoff seems worth the investment.
Each competitor will have three days and two nights to rack up as many points as possible and claim themselves mountain monarch (not a real title, unfortunately). Being the first to complete a run sure helps, but upstarts will likely come along and finish your run with a bigger set of cards, or perhaps with some extra style thrown in. Claiming and then owning the best run on each slope is an important source of victory points and will likely cause some heated rivalries.
Each turn - or day on the slopes - players will use their available actions to search for cards to complete a set, travel around the mountain via lifts and trails and complete runs. Yeti cards are wild, but using too many can trigger an avalanche and force everyone to the bottom of the mountain. Also, the actual yeti will stalk the wilderness, cutting off access to slopes until they meander somewhere else.
In the village, players will trade their resources for other resources, buy gear or refill their hand with slope cards. Spots are limited at some locations, meaning the person nearest the bottom of the mountain will be the first to sample the local cuisine, hot tubs and entertainment. Players can’t stop at a building that’s already full, so even when resting there’s a layer of strategy involved.
Skull Canyon: Ski Fest is designed by Jason Klinke and Kip Noschese, for whom this is their first major board game credit. Illustrations come from Gica Tam, whose previous work can be seen in the prehistoric puzzler Gods Love Dinosaurs and the navigation route-building Wayfinders.
Hopeful shredders will be able to test their ski skills when the game releases on April 13th of next year. Pre-orders are currently available through publisher Pandasaurus’ website.