K2 Review

08 April 2021
The Savage Mountain comes to tabletop

K2 also known as the Savage Mountain, may only be the second-highest peak on Earth, but it is the deadliest. The designer of K2 the board game, Adam Kałuz˙a is an experienced mountaineer himself, and this very much comes through in the game.

K2 is a race, but it celebrates endurance instead of speed. You don’t win the game by reaching the peak first, instead, you climb as high as you can and make sure you get down from the top alive. The game is as much about luck as it is about planning. All players have identical decks of movement and acclimatisation cards. They can play three down each turn to move their mountain climbers (they have two) up or down the mountain or give them acclimatisation points that will allow them to survive. The latter is particularly important because if the climber’s acclimatisation track ever gets to zero, they die. 

The deck, even if you know and can track its contents, is the luck element. The weather and terrain up the mountain, which affect players’ acclimatisation, are key elements to plan for. Brought together they create acutely tense gameplay, where every move is agonising because the life of your climber is precious… and also you only get one victory point if they die. 

It is a strange clash of realistic and gamified elements. The treacherous and sluggish climb up the mountain feels so intensely intrinsic to the mountain climbing experience. Yet at the same time, you are cheering for your opponent to die because then they will lose all their points and it will be easier for you to win. You can’t even share the same tent to shelter from the storm! Maybe this is some dark truth about the competitiveness of mountain climbing but let’s hope not! Either way, winning this way can somewhat damper the euphoria of a well-planned climb. 



Designer: Adam Kałuża

Publisher: Rebel Sp. z o.o.

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Time: 30-60 minutes

Players: 1-5

Ages: 8+

Price: £35

This feature originally appeared in Issue 54 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.

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