Skull Canyon: Ski Fest Review

27 February 2023
Ticket to Slide

This light set-collection/route-claiming title from Pandasaurus Games puts players on the precarious slopes of the recently reopened Skull Canyon Ski Resort. Over three days, two to four skiers will be competing to net the most points by tackling the mountain’s various runs, and gaining fame for doing so with style. In the evenings, players will relax in the village and make vital preparations for next day’s competition. Come sundown on the third day, a victor will be declared based on their scored runs, collected gear, fame, and majorities held on the three tiers of slopes.

With just two actions out of the available three being chosen each turn, Skull Canyon Ski Fest’s pace matches its adrenaline pumping theme well. Whether they are catching a lift up the mountain, drawing slope cards, or descending a run, players’ turns will whip back and forth with momentum sustaining speed, ensuring that everyone remains invested in the gameplay.

Central to the experience are the aforementioned slope cards. Each card in this huge deck will be one of three colours and depict one of the five ‘style’ icons. To claim a run, a number of cards with either matching colours or styles must be played depending on its difficulty – usually two, four, or seven. Doing so will reward players with points, fame, and a place on the ‘run scoreboard’. ‘Claiming’ these runs on the scoreboard is important, as having a majority will grant extra points at the end of the game. Oftentimes though, this will involve ‘stealing’ a run and require playing an extra card for every player token already there.

Mechanically, this is nothing new: The card play has near enough been directly imported from Ticket to Ride – right down to the ‘wild’ Yeti cards. But nonetheless, Skull Canyon Ski Fest deserves credit for making familiar mechanics feel fresh and undeniably suited to its chosen theme.

Further distancing itself from an unfair dismissal as ‘Ticket to Ride with ski googles’ is the game’s brief foray into worker-placement mechanics. This occurs at the end of days one and two, as players make their way to Ski Village to wind down and stock up. Here, players will advance through the village at whatever pace they choose, stopping on spaces to pay for various actions. Play will always pass to whoever is furthest back in the village but they may never return to spaces already passed, meaning that players can rush ahead to certain actions but at the risk of giving your opponents several turns in a row. Actions range from gaining fame or slope cards, as well as powerful ability granting ‘Gear’ cards which are worth points at the end of the game. Unfortunately, with this Apres-Ski phase occurring only twice throughout the game, gear cards often see little to no use. On the other hand though, the phase pushes players to cautiously and strategically weigh up how best to utilise these scarce village actions, adding some unexpected crunch to the game.

Elsewhere, strategy lies in how best to use yeti cards to block runs and trigger avalanches, but mainly comes through in assessing the board-state and identifying the optimum course of action. There’s a certain joy here in lining things up perfectly based on position, cards in hand and in the market, the yeti, and the need to steal runs – all with an eye on where this might leave you for the next turn. Thankfully though, it never becomes overwhelming, ensuring that this resort remains open to all, especially families and younger players.



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Fast, fun, and familiar but with a style all of its own.


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Time: 45-60 minutes

Players: 2-4

Ages: 14+

Price: £29

What’s in the box?

  • Game board
  • Run scoreboard
  • First player marker
  • Daylight tracker
  • Yeti meeple
  • 120 Slope cards
  • 16 Gear cards
  • 4 Skier meeples
  • 4 Skier cards
  • 4 Victory trackers
  • 64 Claim markers
  • 12 Fame tokens
  • 8 Explosive tokens
  • 8 Lift Ticket tokens
  • 7 Weather markers
  • 10 Style bonus markers

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