As chief of a tribes in the Himalayan mountains, you are a caravaneer that will lead your yaks through the mountain passes in Nepal in order to pick up goods and deliver to the locals who need them for survival. We are here in a themed boardgame with neat figurines and a well-designed board that was picked up for our 1st “private session” at Boardgame Monkeys.
Himalaya is game from Régis Bonnessée for 1-4 players but there is an extension for 5 & 6 players.
We played the version from Tilsit (published in 2004) with it’s extension (published in 2006). In terms of game duration, a good 90 minutes will do – even with 6 players. The major competition comes in the form of other players attempting to get goods or fill orders before you get to them.
You can find various reviews about the game on Boardgamegeek, but there is one particular well-written over here by Slowcorner. It was nominated for the Spiel Des Jahres in 2005, got the TricTrac Bronze medal in 2002, and the well-known french game designer Bruno Faidutti selected it as “game of the year” in 2005. Bruno is amongst many things the author of Citadels or the latest Mascarade – would you wonder.
How does it play ?
- The board depicts 20 villages of various sizes, connected by gravel roads, stone roads, or icy roads that your yaks will use.
- You have 5 types of goods: salt, barely, tea, jade and gold that are randomly positioned (and re-filled) into 5 resource pools in the villages. The goods are small painted cubes. To pick up goods, a player must travel to a village with goods and remove the lowest valued good from that village. To fill an order, a player must travel to a village that has an order ring.
- You have “orders” (5 to 6 round tokens depending on the number of players). The orders are printed on nice, thick cardboard and representing the colors fo the colored resource cubes.
- You will pre-program all at the same time your route and/or actions, secretely, before you reveal simultaneously your plan created with 6 tokens. This is a very interesting mechanic that Twin Tin Bots recently used.
- With your resources you go to the destination towns to deliver goods, which in return allows you to build a religious temple (religious influence), put some délégations (political influence) in the area or get additional yaks (economical influence).
We played with 6, and so, after the 12th round, players are eliminated based on their respective influence in the three areas. This end-game evaluation is very interesting because it’s a 3-fold approach: where the player with the least religious influence is out, then we look at the political influence (either 1 or 2 players – depending on the number of participants – with the least political influence are out) and finally the economical power is the total number of yaks you have in your possession. This gives an interesting end result because you have the obligation to build up on the 3 types of influences.
Feedback from the group ?
Most of us found the game very amusing and there was a constant stress-factor around the table not knowing which way the other yaks would go this round ! We didn’t apply the game-limit of 2 minutes to pre-program your actions, deciding to take it more easy and overall we managed just fine like this without impact on the predicted 90 minutes.
There is some luck as part of the game, when we throw the dice to place new resources and orders, but that can be controlled by knowing which villages already holds resources and pre-program your yaks directions in order to go on one or the other side of the board. If rules are well explained upfront (we took 30 min to really go through the details of the game mechanics before starting), every player at the table should understand what they have to do first (place your stupa’s to establish your religious influence).
The game is fun to play, probably for a more advanced public, and will give you that taste of “already finished ?” when you hit the 12th month of the year, ending the game. Although there are 12 rounds, since everybody plays their programming at the same time and reveal + play their actions in order, you don’t have down-times during the game. You are constantly looking at what the other players are doing, to adapt & optimize your next movements.
With the 5 & 6 players extension, the game get a bit crowded, it often happens that we had 3 and sometimes even 4 yaks at the same town picking up resources. Definitively more hectic, but nonetheless equally fun as with 4 players. It’s mechanics and calculations make this game strategic but still accessible for players who have the habit of boardgames without being very experienced.