Design: Alan R. Moon
Producer: White Wind, a limited numbered edition.
Number of players: 2 to 6
A gameboard in 5 parts (which can be placed in different order and even can be left out). 6 dogsled cards and 6 pawns, 24 special dice, 1 normal dice, 6 training markers, 6 weather markers, 4 avalanches, 1 icebear, 125 action chips and 50 dog chips.
"You've been training your dogs for almost a year, ever since last year's race. Now you stand at the start line, a wolf howling in the distance, your breath visible in the cold air, your heart already racing, the dogs straining in their harness, the expectant crowd lined up on both sides of the street. The gun fires. 'Mush, mush' you cry. The race has begun."
a sled dog
The goal: By making optimal use of the dogs and give them some rest from time to time, you have to try to reach the finishvillage before the other players. You have to choose your way through the wilderness and have some luck with weather and avalanches.
Training: Each player has trained his dog for a special weather type. The race starts with nice weather, but later on the changes on bad weather will increase. You start with 8 fresh dogs, but every turn 1 or 2 will get tired. For every fresh dog, you may throw a die. The kind of dice depend on the weather. On every die there are some dogs and some blanks. The number of dogs you throw is the number of steps you can make.
Early rising: Each player has a pile of action chips. All actions cost an amount of chips. Early rising is one of them. At the start of each turn every player can use secretly some chips. These chips determine the order for that turn. The one with the most chips gets the early riser bonus and can take 1 step. The starting player throws a die to determine the weather. Now the players take their turn.
a sled dog
Resting: You have a choice to race or to rest. Resting produces action chips or fresh dogs (or a combination). Resting in villages producces even more chips and cities are even better. To race you throw the dice and move your sled. If the weather is good for your dogs, you can press the dogs to go faster. This way the dogs sometimes walk 2 steps further or just get more tired.
Mountains and avalanches: You can only enter a mountain by throwing 4, 5 or 6 on a die. You can increase your changes by paying 1 or 2 chips. An avalanche can be passed by throwing a 6. You can pay again some chips (1 to 4) to increase your changes or you can 'move' the avalanche by paying 5 chips.
Passing: The roads are to narrow to pass the opponents easy. When you pay 4 chips, you can pass as many opponents as you can that turn. In villages and cities the roads are much wider, so you can pass without trouble.
another sled dog
Specials: Whenever you're not satisfied by your throw, you can pay 3 chips to throw again. But if you throw very good, an opponent probably will pay the 3 chips, so you have to throw again. The opponents can pay some chips in advance to reduce the number of dice you may throw. It costs 2 chips per dog and a maximum of 3 dogs can be eliminated (for that turn). The opponents may pay the sum together.
The end: As soon as some reaches the finishvillage, the race is over.
Valuation: A game full of nice ideas. For example the dogs getting tired. But with tired dogs you can race too. Or the action chips: they give you the opportunity to do a lot of things: throwing the dice again or making avalanches. Furthermore you can change your chances and pass opponents. It is obvious that you never have enough chips as you wish. Sometimes luck can influence the game a lot and reaching the finish can take a while, but that doesn't change the feeling that this is a succesful game. Fine game.
Remark: At the start of the game it is very crowded and you need a lot of chips to pass your opponents. On the other hand you can wait of course. At the end of the game someone will come close to the finish. So the other players try to stop him, which slows down the game and the fun will decrease a bit.
Strategy: Dogs trained for bad weather have some advantage. As soon as someone reaches the bad weather zone, the rest of the game will give mostly bad weather. So when you don't have to much arrears, you'll probably win the game. Of course this is known by the other players, so they'll try to stop you at the start of the game.