Yak Review

25 August 2022
Track, Unpack, Stack

The production quality in Yak is off the charts. There are masses of huge wooden blocks, gorgeous tokens, some groovy carts and, of course, the yaks. These yaks are the main attraction, especially the adorable baby yak, which has now taken up permanent residence on my desk. In fact, there are more components than strictly necessary. There’s a huge board, which is only really used to create a circle for the Yaks to travel around. It’s obsolete: yaks can easily just travel from player to player on the table. There’s even a separate board for fog cubes to be placed on. If they’d used some of the vast surplus space on the main board for this, at least it would have a purpose. Frustratingly, the quality of the gameplay doesn’t quite live up to the quality of the components.

Your aim is to build a tower with stone acquired from travelling merchants. Stones in eight different colours are transported in wagons pulled by yaks. You pay for stones with milk, meat or bread, but three of the four merchants refuse one type of food, and you can only take stones from the cart in front of you. These restrictions create interesting decisions and work well. Each round, the yaks move the carts in the direction they are facing – to which we chant “Yakky, Yakky, Yakky…” (this is not in the rules, but should be). 

On each round, players simultaneously select one of three action cards. The action cards are slightly confusing as the language-independent graphics aren’t intuitive. The simultaneous action selection feels a little superfluous – actions are locked in but not revealed. Perhaps it’s been added to force the structure of the game into rounds, which then provides a natural moment for the yaks to move.

Players do need to plan ahead a bit – working out which stones they want to take and making sure they have the correct resources at the right time in order to do so. But even carefully laid plans can go awry as fog descends. Mixed into the bag, with the stones are identically sized cubes of fog. When these come out, the yaks all change direction, sending the carts the other way and altering the stones heading your way and the food restrictions to obtain them. Knowing that the fog could come out of the bag does make you consider your options a little more carefully. Fog adds just about the right amount of chaos.

When you take stones you immediately place them on your pyramid-shaped tower. At the end of the game, you’ll score for groups of stones of the same colour and for multiple groups of different colour stones. It’s quite a fun puzzle for one or two games, but despite advanced mode objective cards, it’s not interesting enough to generate real replayability. Players mostly tend to be searching for different colour stones for their towers, so competition is mainly limited to the costly ‘crystal stones’ which can be any colour and can massively increase your scoring options… so you want to stop your opponents from getting their hands on them. It’s the position of these wild stones that sparks most of the interesting choices in the game.

If the game played quickly, the whole thing would work so much better. But unfortunately, it tends to drag and can easily take over an hour, which is too long for the simple mechanics and light strategy.



The whole game is beautifully (over) produced, though it’s actually surprisingly cheap considering the component quality. Yak is a family-weight game with a delightful theme and great table presence, but while it is lightly sprinkled with interesting choices, it sadly lacks real depth and variety. It’s a bit of a shame that the real highlight is playing with the baby yak and chanting, “Yakky, Yakky, Yakky”.

Buy a copy here

Play this if you liked: Imhotep

Both games have simple mechanics, chunky wooden cubes and tower building, but Imhotep trumps Yak with its difficult decisions and better interaction between players.

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Read the full review here

Buy a copy here

Designer: Michael Luu

Publisher: Pretzel Games

Time: 30-60 minutes

Players: 2-4

Ages: 8+

Price: £43

What’s in the box?

  • 4 Yaks
  • 1 Baby yak
  • 4 Carts
  • 8 Cart panels
  • 1 Game board
  • 4 Player boards
  • 1 Quarry bag
  • 64 Coloured stones
  • 45 Food tokens
  • 8 Crystal stones
  • 1 Mountain
  • 1 Fog marker
  • 5 Fogs
  • 1 Stupa marker
  • 1 Score pad
  • 12 Action cards
  • 8 Bonus cards

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