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Nunatak: Temple of Ice Review


The hills are alive with the sound of…ice picks!

Okay so Julie Andrews wasn’t playing Nunatak when she sang her famous ditty. But a Nunatak is a hill (or mountain) completely surrounded by glacial ice. So if she had been on one whilst singing then she might. Maybe. Perhaps!

Either way, she would have been signing this game’s praises as it is an awesome competitive construction game. Racing to place the temple on the top of the Nunatak, our individual aim is to collect as many points as we can along the way.

If we build it, they will come!

Super easy to learn - each turn players choose a card and place a pillar stone on a matching icon on the board. When a 2x2 square of pillars forms, players score based on their majority presence within the square and another level begins. When a higher level is completed, the player completing it scores its blocks underneath too! When the final level is complete, the player placing the final pillar places the Temple at the very top! Players also score points on a separate track if they complete a row or column by placing a pillar of their own colour.

As such, you are working together to build the pyramid, but you are most definitely competing to be top templer!

And the cards don’t just enable you to place pillars. Each type is an opportunity to amass a set of something, and each one scores differently. Not only that but some will only score (or score maximally) if you have more of them than other players by end game. And Elder cards reward with bonuses that are either end game multipliers or immediate advantages.

Final Thoughts!

Nunatak is such a fun game! It seems super simple on the first play. And in terms of rules overhead it is. Pick a card, place a block. But the necessity to implement strategy and tactics strikes you like an icepick to the head when you then score your first game and realise just how much you missed!

For example, I completely overlooked the fact that I would need Architect cards in order to score my Architect track. My husband’s first game missed out on maximum Builder points as he didn’t realise I had snuck an extra card into my collection 2 turns from the end. He was also mega smug thinking he had victory in the bag after being furthest round the track on the last turn. But then I whipped past him with some clever Elder card bonuses right at the end! So the moral of our story is pay close attention to your opponents’ moves!

NUNATAK is super engaging and feels like a race to the very end (where one lucky person gets to place the temple topper!). It also looks amazing on the table – nobody can walk past without regarding the developing mountain with awe. Because of the construction, scoring supporting blocks at the end of a turn can be a little fiddly. But with everyone’s eyes switched on, and thanks to the striking colours of the pillar blocks, it’s not hard to tot up.

And, particularly exciting for my household, the two player mode works brilliantly. When I first read there was a dummy player, I admit that I was a little nervous. My 3 player games had already been super fun and so I wondered how much work a dumdum would be to run. When it takes more thinking time than my own turns, I get a bit deflated. But this is absolutely not the case! The two player mode is simple and adds another tactic to our own strategies.

How? Why? Well, we each have half the dumdum player's blocks and our own are then divided into sets of three – two of our own and one dumdum. And we must use all the blocks in one set before starting the next. As such, we have to decide each turn whether to use our own blocks (in order to gain cards into our sets, majority points, and architect points), or use a dumdum block. The dumdum block interferes with a growing majority and wastes a card from the offer row making it unavailable to any player coming after you in order. And because dumdum isn't scored, there’s no drag. But the best part is that we each retain some control over it. It impacts us both and isn't just random assignment – and that is a simple but very clever mechanism!

We really enjoy NUNATAK. It’s great fun, it can be explained quickly, works great at different player counts, is striking on the table, and is going to stay in our collection for sure!

if you liked this blog on Nunatak, you can click here to buy it today. Let us know your thoughts on our social media channels @/zatugames

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