Menu

SNOW TAILS

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

SNOW TAILS (Fragor Games, 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; about $70)

 

Snow Tails is a fun, quick 2-5 player dog sled racing game. This game by the Lamont Brothers, the quirky Scottish game designers, of Shear Panic (Spring 2006 GA REPORT) and Antler Island fame. The game has fairly good components though the track pieces are a little thin and have a tendency to warp and the brake pieces, while nice, are a little irrelevant to the overall play of the game. The rule book is well written and illustrated with few ambiguities.snowtails

Before you begin the game, the first thing you do is build a track (either your own design or one from the back of the book) using the various straghts, curves and hazard pieces (snow drifts, gullies and trees) provided with game and the start and finish line. You just have to remember that the Yellow flags indicate the left side of the track and the Red flags the right side of the track when putting your track together. Next each player takes a dog sled mat, sled piece, brake piece and movement deck of the same color as the mat. The sled mat shows the left and right hand dog of your sled and a brake spot. These all start at a strength of three (actually printed on the mat and you just have to set the brake marker at three). The pivot allows you to orientate your sled mat to the various parts of the track to make sled movement planning easier. After deciding randomly who starts, each player (going clockwise from the start player) will choose a start position on the start line and draw five movement cards from their movement deck. If you start in the fourth or fifth position you get one or two extra cards respectively since you begin at a disadvantage. The player who is furthest ahead or in the case of a tie furthest to the left (in a corner closest to the inside of the corner) moves first during the game.

During a player’s turn, he can play up to three movement cards (values range from one to five) from his hand, one on the left dog area, one on the right dog area and a discard which adjusts the brake value to the discarded cards’ value. I found putting the discard on the brake space instead of using the brake piece to indicate the braking factor makes it easier to remember. However all cards that you play must be of the same value. For example if you play a one movement card (called Canine cards in the game) all the other cards you play during your turn must be a one. Your movement is calculated by adding the strength of the movement/Canine cards on the dog spaces on the sled mat minus the break value. If the value is zero or a negative you stop and do not move your sled this turn. If positive, you move that many spaces. If both movement cards on your left and right dog space are the same, you can move an optional extra number of spaces equal to your position on the track which allows players in the back to keep up with the sleds in the front. Furthermore, if the strength of the movement cards on the dog spaces is unbalanced then, during your turn, you must move your sled diagonally equal to the difference between the two cards and in the direction of the strongest movement card. So for example, if the movement card on the Left dog space was three and on the Right a two with a the brake set at one you would move a total of four spaces of which one must be one space diagonally to the left (towards the higher movement card). At the end of your turn you fill up to five cards. Once you use all your movement cards you take all the cards you played off your sled mat except for the last ones played and reshuffle them into a new movement deck.snowtails2

If you collide with the edges of the track or the tree obstacles, you receive a damage card (if you get five your sled is broken and you are eliminated from the game) which becomes a permanent junk card in your hand reducing the number of movement cards you have to plan your future moves. You can also receive damage cards if you exceed a corners speed number when entering it. You get one damage card for each speed you are over the corners speed number. If you hit another players sled, all that happens is that you stop your sled in the last space you moved before colliding and lose the rest of your turn. (You do not draw cards to replenish your hand). The game ends when the first player crosses the finish line. In an interesting twist, if two or more people finish at the same time, it is the player who moves furthest past the finish line, not the person who crosses it first who wins. If you are still tied, the winner is the person closest to the chequered flag (furthest on the right). If you play a number of races you can use the optional (5, 3, 2, 1) point system provided in the rule book to keep track of how well your sled does over a series of tracks. Finally the game has a cute paw piece which you can give to those players taking too long to due their move (a cute way to cut down on the analysis paralysis).

Snow Tails is a game of planning and strategic moving. You have to make the best move with cards you have on hand yet trying to use those same cards to plan future moves is a fun challenge. Planning when and how you turn is also an essential part of the game. If you get too much damage, you will not have enough options with your movement cards to win the race though taking a damage card or two during the race is sometimes necessary to keep up with the leaders.

I found this to be a very easy game to teach to either casual or serious gamers. The average time for a game, even on a long track, is between 30 minutes and an hour. The only fault with the game is due to the randomness of the draw deck for movement. You can occasionally get a bad draw hampering your movement during a crucial part of the race.

This game has grown on me as I have played it and it is in my opinion one of the best of the Lamont Brothers games yet produced and a good race game as well. Recommended for any racing game fan and for both the non gamers and gamers alike. – – – – – – – – – – – Chris Kovac


 

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Spring 2009 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Pevans CONFUCIUS (Surprised Stare Games, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, about 2 hours; about $65) Confucius, the latest board game from Surprised Stare Games, is still fascinating me. The game, designed by Alan Paull, is set in China during the Ming dynasty. The players represent families trying to better themselves within the Confucian system espoused by the Imperial government and court. In ...
Read More
It's Pretty but is it ART...? Everyone is familiar with the age old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? An interesting debate no doubt and one that can keep you scratching your head for the answer. But when it comes to games, the question morphs into another puzzler: which comes first, the art or the game play? Art is an intrinsic and ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy FOR SALE (Gryphon Games, 3-6 players, ages 8 and up, 20-30 minutes; $24.95) For Sale by Stefan Dorra is yet another reissue of a classic game from Gryphon Games. Long time readers of Gamers Alliance Report know For Sale well. It was originally featured over 10 years ago, back in the Fall 1997 issue. Then, when Uberplay re-issued the game with ...
Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue FORMULA D (Asmodee, 2-10 players, ages 10 and up, 60+ minutes; $59.99) Formula D, designed by Eric Randall and Laurent Lavaur, is a new edition of the great Formula Dè, published in 1991, with some small improvements and really great packaging. I'm not in agreement with people neglecting graphics, materials and arts in a game considering these not relevant for ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy GEM DEALER (Gryphon Games, 3-5 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $24.99) Reiner Knizia has carved out for himself an enviable reputation. Not only has he established himself as an acknowledged master of game design, but he has also become the "recycling king". Knizia has shown an uncanny knack for being able to repackage and resell many of his earlier ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy HEADS OF STATE (Eggertspiele/Z-Man Games, 3-5 players, ages 10 and up, 90-120 minutes; $70) Uneasy is the head that wears the crown. No truer words have been spoken and you can see why in Heads of State, the new game designed by Peter Hawes, that places players in the roles of heads of noble houses trying to populate Western Europe with ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy HIGH SOCIETY (Gryphon Games, 3-5 players, ages 10 and up, 30-45 minutes; $24.99) Think of yourself as someone in 19th century America who has become wealthy from the booming growth and expansion of these, still young, United States. But money itself is not enough. What you really crave is social distinction and that, you perceive, can be yours if you manage ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (Kosmos/Mayfair Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-75 minutes; $49) The science fiction novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by the legendary Jules Verne is a recognized literary classic. Originally penned in 1864, it has been in constant print since, and has spawned no less than five film versions and ...
Read More
(Gryphon Games has released a new string of "bookshelf" games. The new game in the bunch - Roll Through the Ages - is featured this issue. But the line also includes reissues of classic games too. One of them is Money by Reiner Knizia. The only difference between the reissue and the original release is graphic: Gryphon has improved the size of the cards, making ...
Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber PLANET STEAM (LudoArt, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 2+ hours; about $100) Computer games tend to have a short lifespan – not much different from most boardgames, actually, but with the added pressure of changing hardware. For a computer game to survive (albeit mostly as a cherished memory) for a quarter of a decade is therefore an incredible accomplishment. But ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy ROLL THROUGH THE AGES (Gryphon Games, 1-4 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $29.95) Second in the new line of Gryphon Bookshelf Games, Roll Through the Ages by Matt Leacock is the only new design among the original five. Since it is sandwiched between games by such formidable designers as Reiner Knizia and Stefan Dorra, you would be forgiven for ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac SNOW TAILS (Fragor Games, 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; about $70) Snow Tails is a fun, quick 2-5 player dog sled racing game. This game by the Lamont Brothers, the quirky Scottish game designers, of Shear Panic (Spring 2006 GA REPORT) and Antler Island fame. The game has fairly good components though the track pieces are a little ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy TELEPATHY (LMD Enterprises, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 15-25 minutes; $24.95) If you look at the box, you might think that this is a game about reading minds or transferring thoughts. If you take a closer look you would notice that statement on the box that Telepathy is "a strategy game combining logic, deduction and more". Although this may sound ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy TEXAS GLORY (Columbia Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 1-2 hours; $49.99) Thanks to the efforts of Fess Parker and Walt Disney, kids growing up in the 1950s learned a lot about Texas history watching Davy Crockett battle at the Alamo. Now as adults, they (and other historically minded simulation gamers) can expand their experience with Texas Glory, designed by ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!