Summit Review

Theme and What is it?

The world of summit created by Connor McGee is a mountain climbing game in which you are able to play solo, Co-op, or competitive. The game plays much like you would expect a mountain-climbing Endeavor to be: tense at times, relaxed at others, and having to make tough decisions that affect the rest of your party during the rest. The game is at its heart a Cooperative game that allows you to play solo or competitively in much the same manner as you may climb a mountain by yourself, with a group, or against the competing team or player. Before the review goes on, MeepleGamers must tell you that this game was picked as Best in Show for Gen Con 50.  The game is built as a game that should last you for a long time.  The pieces are made with quality craftsmanship and lots of plays in mind. Moreover, the few tense moments in this game are not easy to replicate. There is nothing quite like deciding to cut the rope of your friend or competitor knowing it could lead you to the top of the mountain or just as easily could lead to your failure. The karma system during competitive play forces you to think ahead about those actions you might otherwise take that could also negatively affect you. All in all Summit is a beautiful game, and should not be discounted on the basis that there were other equally impressive games released and demoed at Gen Con.

Gameplay Mechanics

Summit is at its base, no pun intended, a resource management, push-your-luck, racing game.  It forces you to make decisions that can ultimately either win the day or cause your failure. The difference between solo and Co-op is negligible but you do not need to play extra characters to make solo feasible as you do in some other titles. In competitive mode, karma is king.  You must make choices that will force you to deal with their karmic consequences: should I cut the rope of Little Johnny or should I allow him to possibly beat me to the summit? These are real choices that can affect your ability ultimately to win or lose in the manner you can seek. Some reviewers have said that due to the fact it has dice, Summit is a game of chance and there is some truth to this.  However, that truth is mitigated by the fact that if you were climbing a mountain you never know when the weather will strike. Doing the weather and food consumption in any other way then a pure chance is disingenuous to the experience of climbing a mountain.
 
On your turn in cooperative and solo you move your person to the extent that your speed will allow, you roll the dice to determine whether or not there are any unforeseen weather or food requirements, and you deal with the weather and food with cards that tell you what you will need to do based on the roll of the dice. In competitive mode you may also play Karma cards that can positively or negatively affect you and your competitors. One statement by Connor is quite apt in this game: in order to best understand this game you must play it. To me this is music to my ears, as I absolutely detest spending an hour reading rules to play an hour game. You truly can, as long as you follow the turn order, learn this game by playing it. InsideUp games has done a fantastic job at creating not just a game but an experience that feels like the experience you may have watching a Rocky Balboa film, at the end of the Rocky Balboa film you may feel like you’re the best boxer in the world. In Summit you may feel like you could climb Everest or K2 tomorrow, despite the fact that you’re uncomfortable with the idea of walking a 5K (some of us anyway).

Initial Impressions

When you pick up this box it has bulk. You feel like you are getting quality based on that bulk. I tried to convince Connor to pack in a masonry brick, he refused, saying the box is heavy enough.

The artwork which was initially something else altogether, and changed halfway through the design process makes this game come alive. When looking at this board, a two-sided board, the art makes you feel as if you are on the side of a mountain that at any time you could plummet to your soul-crushing death. I feel in games, art should emote a feeling that binds you to the game, the jagged edges of Summit do exactly that for me.

The player boards are designed with cutouts to fit tightly and make the game feel higher-quality yet. I understand that not all games should or could have the production value of summit. However, I feel there is space in the hobby for a few special games like Summit where the production value make the game feel as if it’ll be on your game shelf long after you’re gone.

Quality of Components and Insert

When you’re initially punching the cardboard cutout in Summit you realize the cardboard is thick enough to hold a small child or use as a makeshift carabiner. Teasing notwithstanding the quality of the items that are included in the Box are of the highest quality down to the dice that have that wonderful chunky feel that all good diet should.
The insert is made to hold the game perfectly and the board covers the insert so that when on the shelf, the pieces do not fall out of the insert. InsideUp games has put a lot of thought in to help people store their games. For that reason I believe the insert and components are some of the highest quality I’ve ever seen in a board game.

Artistic Direction

As previously stated I believe the art in this game helps put a player on the mountain by themselves with a team or with competitors and makes you feel as if you are either climbing or planning to climb a mountain with your friends or enemies soon. There is nothing quite like making the choice of cutting a rope of your five year old daughter so you’re 25 year old friend can help the team complete the climb. pulling the triangle pieces, though a part of the components, truly feels evocative of cutting a rope on someone with you. The art of the game is not just that of the beautiful scenery, it is also of the imagery of what you would have to do to complete your mission of climbing a mountain with a team. InsideUp games has caught my imagination with their art direction in more ways than one.

Fun Factor

I like the thought of a mountain climbing game. It just appeals to me more than that I like the idea that at least one of my games does co-op and competitive play in a non-complicated manner. Not just adequately but rather well. For those reasons I believe this is a fun game and I think anybody else who can enjoy the imagery, the subtlety, and the moments of tenseness that come with cutting the rope will also find Summit pleasing.

Difficulty and age range suggestion

Summit is really designed as an adult game. The imagery could be considered stark and possibly even dark. However the gameplay mechanic particularly in a coop playthrough is done such that my five year old daughter was able to play most of a playthrough with myself and a friend. We had to help her but she understood the basics of what we were trying to do, which is to climb a mountain and return home safely. When I was forced to cut her rope, she was the one who made the choice to take the fall for the team. As a father I don’t know whether to feel proud that she was willing to have her rope cut, or to feel devastated that she did so without much thought. It’s likely that the game is a bit too long for someone for her age, however, it allowed her to take part in the experience of climbing the mountain with her dad however briefly.
 
For that reason though this is not a simple game, I believe with some patience it is a possible gateway game for a family. It allows a child to learn more difficult gameplay mechanics then simple spinning the wheel or rolling dice. With older children that have grown up playing games, this game should be simple.

Conclusions

As previously stated Summit was MeepleGamers Best in Show for Gen Con 2017. This means that for all the reasons in the review, we believe this game to be fun with a high production value and a beautiful artistic direction with the ability to teach anyone who has the patience to learn a system that is not so much left to chance as it is to Mother Nature.

If there are no other games that you pick up in the year 2017, Summit should be at the top of your list.

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Originally posted 2017-09-01 15:33:50.