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Camel Up studio’s latest game hypes up the humble yak

Hairy heroes in the Himalayas.

Connect with merchants in the Himalayan mountains in Yak, an upcoming board game from the studio behind Camel Up: Second Edition – Pretzel Games.

Yak is a board game about gathering the various materials needed to build a stone tower, with each village receiving a caravan of merchants bringing in their wares for trade. (Thanks BoardGameGeek.) Taking place across various villages situated in the Himalayan Mountains – which span across multiple countries in Asia, from India to China to Nepal – Yak sees two to four players attempting to exchange their goods for stones for their impending tower. Each merchant will carry different colours of stone, with players aiming to construct their tower using certain combinations of colours. Therefore, players will need to think cleverly about which merchants to trade with and when.

Players begin the game with one of each type of good – meat, milk and bread – as well as three cards in their hand. By playing cards facedown, players can perform one of three potential actions on their turn: build, restock and visiting the market. When all players have chosen and placed their action card facedown, they reveal it on their turn and carry it out.

Building sees players exchanging up to five goods to purchase up to three stones from the cart that is currently visiting their village. Each cart will have certain restrictions that prevent them from exchanging a particular type of good - for example, the vegetarian yak will not take meat. Sometimes a cart will be carrying crystal stones, which players must pay extra goods for. Once they have bought their stones, players can place them in their tower, with every stone after the first one placed needing to touch another. Everyone will want to place certain coloured stones in particular patterns in order to score the most amount of points possible at the end of the game.

Whenever people begin to run out of goods to trade, they can decide to restock by taking all of the same type of good from the cart visiting their village. Players can have up to eight goods in their reserves. Once they’ve done this, they take a stone from the game’s bag and place it into the cart they took from. Alternatively, anyone can choose to take goods from the market instead. When visiting the market, two goods of the player’s choice can be taken, before they can place one of three stones into a cart of their choice. Should a fog stone ever be drawn, then the direction of all the carts are reversed, with players moving each cart in the new direction until another fog stone is drawn.

The game ends when someone has built the fourth level of their tower, with one final round taking place after that. Once everyone has tallied all the points they’ve collected from their tower, the person with the most points is named the winner.

Yak was designed by Michael Luu, with the creator’s previous tabletop titles including the co-op board game Rob ‘n’ Run – which sees players working together to pull off a robbery together – and a board game about directing a journey into space called Mission ISS.

Apart from Camel Up: Second Edition and Yak, Pretzel Games is also known for publishing dexterity games such as Junk Art, a board game about building sculptures from different shaped blocks, and Men at Work. Dicebreaker has reached out to Plan B Games for comment on whether Pretzel Games hired a cultural consultant to advise on Himalayan cultures.

Yak is set to be released sometime in the first half of 2022, with a retail price yet to be confirmed.

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Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Staff Writer, Dicebreaker

Alex’s journey to Dicebreaker began with writing insightful video game coverage for outlets such as Kotaku, Waypoint and PC Gamer. Her unique approach to analysing pop culture and knack for witty storytelling finally secured her a forever home producing news, features and reviews with the Dicebreaker team. She’s also obsessed with playing Vampire: The Masquerade, and won’t stop talking about it.

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