09 July 2021
In 7 Summits players take charge of national climbing teams racing to be the first to summit the tallest peak across seven continents. Using a mix of dice drafting and equipment cards, you score points for getting to the top of each mountain, picking up hidden victory point tokens along the way, and completing secret missions.
At first, 7 Summits looks too simple to be good. Roll a dice and nudge a meeple up a mountain? Isn’t that a bit… bland? But beyond the deceptively gentle foothills lies a light but engaging challenge. First off, chucking a handful of – pleasingly mountainesque – d4s just feels fun. Secondly, each team has an experience track covering things like teamwork and preparation. By planning your route up the mountain, you can boost your level on these tracks and get bonuses like adding or subtracting one from any dice roll, or drawing additional equipment cards.
Then there’s the tactical aspect – going first isn’t always the advantage you’d expect. If someone behind you lands on you with an exact roll, they climb the teamwork track, often giving them bonus movement. Are you going to try to summit every mountain or just rush a couple of peaks but ensure you get there first? What you choose might depend on the missions you’ve drawn (of which you can draw more as the game progresses).
On any turn you can press your luck by rolling the dice you’ve chosen a second time along with a hazard die, that might deduct spaces from your roll or even send you back to base camp with an avalanche, so players who are lagging in last place can gamble in an attempt to leap ahead. Equipment cards let you mitigate bad luck to an extent, or push you forward a few spaces.
Granted, there’s no deep strategy here – it’s usually best to rush Everest first, given how many points it offers, before picking off the lesser peaks – but 7 Summits turns out to be a fun, light game that’s easy to teach. Two players can easily put a game to bed within half an hour – higher player counts might take up to twice that, which still makes for a compact experience that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
With more players, it’s more of a scramble, with more opportunities to gain teamwork bonuses by landing on other climbers. Since you get fewer dice per round, each player has more incentive to push their luck by rolling again along with the hazard dice. There’s only a one-in-six chance of wiping out on every mountain but Everest, but it can still feel frustrating if your opponents are racing ahead, scooping up bonuses, then your attempt to catch up leaves you even farther behind.
But the flipside is that 7 Summits is quick. Any disastrous run of luck is over mercifully fast, so that players who aren’t in the running to win don’t have too long to wait. Hidden objectives create a bit of tension so the winner isn’t absolutely clear until the game’s over.
The components are unflashy but solid, the brightly-coloured d4s and meeples adding a bit of pop to a small but easy-to-read board. The equipment cards are easy to read with clear rules. 7 Summits isn’t a game with lots of tricky edge-case rules that will see you returning to the rulebook over and over, and because of this it plays smoothly straight out of the box.
All in all, you’re looking a straightforward game with a fun, universal theme that’s not too intimidating for newer players. It takes on average about forty-five minutes, it has moments of drama and silliness, and if you’re looking for a new end-of-night game or warm up that can handle a range of player counts, this game – while not the pinnacle – is summit worth checking out.
PLAY IT? YES
It’s a much crunchier experience than 7 Summits, so if you want something lighter and faster that you can play with casual players, 7 Summits might fill that niche. By the same token, if you enjoy 7 Summits and fancy something a bit more in-depth, K2’s more detailed approach might make a great next step.
Designer: Daryl Andrews & Adrian Adamescu
Publisher: Deep Water Games
Time: 30-45 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Game board
- 5 Player boards
- 6 Mountain dice
- 1 Risk dice
- 54 Cards (36 equipment cards, 18 mission cards)
- 15 Skill Markers, 3 in each of 5 colours
- 35 Climbers, 7 in each of 5 colours
- 1 First Player Token
- 14 Discovery Tokens
This article originally appeared in issue 57 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products