Yak

Yak

RRP: £42.99
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RRP £42.99
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In Yak, the village elder has given you (and others) the task of constructing a great stone tower to guide the merchants and their yaks in the Himalayas. Each turn, a yak pulls its cart into your village. Will you find stones for your tower, or food for your reserves? Or will you need to visit the market to find what you need? Over the course of the game, each player builds their ow…
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-PZG20080EN Availability 2 in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Yaks and Carts
  • Simple to Learn
  • Quite quick to play
  • Family Game
  • Lovely table presence

Might Not Like

  • Some colour cube confusion
  • No Deep Strategy
  • Loading and unloading carts can be fiddly
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Description

In Yak, the village elder has given you (and others) the task of constructing a great stone tower to guide the merchants and their yaks in the Himalayas. Each turn, a yak pulls its cart into your village. Will you find stones for your tower, or food for your reserves? Or will you need to visit the market to find what you need?

Over the course of the game, each player builds their own stone tower by acquiring stones from visiting merchants. You start the game with one good of each type (meat, milk, bread) and three cards in hand: build, restock, and market. Three or four carts being pulled by yaks start on the game board, with each player having one cart in front of them and each cart containing three stones and some food. Each cart has a restriction on it, e.g., "no bread" because its yak is gluten intolerant.

On a turn, all players choose a card in hand simultaneously and place it face-down. Starting with whoever holds the baby yak token, players then take their turns in order by revealing their card. If you played:

Build: Spend 1-5 food tokens, placing them in the cart in front of you, to buy 1-3 stones from that cart. You must follow the restriction on that cart. (No meat for the vegetarian yak, please!) If you acquire crystal stones, you must pay one extra food for each such stone. Place the stones in your tower, with all stones after your first needing to touch. Your tower is at most five stones wide.
Restock: Take all the food of one type from the cart in front of you and add it to your reserves up to your limit of eight items of food. Then draw a stone from the quarry bag and place it in the cart. (A cart can hold at most four stones.)
Market: Take two food items of your choice from the market, which starts with two foods of each type and which is refilled only when a cart exceeds its nine-food limit during a build action. Then draw three stones from the bag, place one in a cart of your choice, then return the other two to the bag.
Stones come in eight colors, with eight of each in the bag. Eight crystal stones are also in the bag, along with five fog stones. Whenever fog stones are drawn, all players reverse the direction of all the carts, then the active player sets the fog aside and draws replacement stones, with carts reversing again should fog be drawn anew. Once the right number of non-fog stones have been drawn, place the fog stones on the mountain track. This track will be filled twice during the game, after which only a single fog will remain in the bag.

To end a round, return your chosen card to your hand, move the yak carts one space in the direction they face, then pass the baby yak clockwise. Continue playing rounds until someone completes the fourth level of their tower. Complete that round, play one additional round, then score the towers. A crystal stone can be a color of your choice, but each crystal in your tower must be a different color. You score points (1) for each group of two or more stones (e.g., a group of six is worth 16 points), (2) for the number of groups of at least two or more stones, (3) for individual stones (only 1 point each), (4) for triggering the end of the game, and (5) for having the most remaining food.

For an additional challenge, play Yak with the "master builder" variant. Reveal three of the eight objective cards at the start of play. By having the most non-crystal stones of a color or placing them in certain locations in your tower, you score additional points.

Yak-Ee Doodle Dandy

Cute used to be spelt C-U-T-E but now it’s spelt Y-A-K. The game of Yak is all about the Yaks (all male by the way. If they were female they would be naks or dri).

These lovely, solid, pitch-black chunks of loveliness with their gleaming white, curly, pointed horns are beautifully sculpted to portray the Tibetan giants stoically plodding around the mountain top pulling their solid carts laden with foodstuffs and stone. All these cargo are beautifully made too: wooden milk bottles, hams of meat and loaves of (naan?) bread. The stones, with which you’ll build your walls, are also chunky:- 2.5x2x1.25cm blocks of wood in 8 solid, bright colours with 8 “crystals” in a slightly different colour and 5 white “Fog” blocks. Now I’m a bit of a component junkie and I certainly got my fix with this one. I wouldn’t normally say buy a game just for the quality of the pieces but this time I would!

Hit The Road Yak

Fortunately the game is good enough too. Gameplay is like the Iello game Pyramids where you build a pyramidical wall of stones and score points for groups of matching colours. Groups must be of at least 2 stones with increasing scores the bigger the group. This is particularly true for the 6 and 7 (max) stone groups. You also score for the number of groups you have. You must have 3 groups to score 4 points and then it goes up by 4 for each additional group you have with a maximum of 7.

Yak is easy to learn – about 2 pages of rules plus lots of examples. Gameplay of under an hour with quick rounds of turns and little chance of analysis paralysis. A few different ways of scoring at the end to encourage alternate approaches plus bonus scoring cards that can be introduced after you’ve mastered the basics. Set-up is straightforward with a Yak cart in front of each player, plus an extra one in 2 player mode. Each cart is loaded with 3 randomly-drawn stones plus a number of food tokens. One cart has 3 Milk,3 Bread and 3 Meat for a total of 9 food and the other carts will hold 6 food by lacking the 3 of the type of food they are forbidden to carry as denoted on the cart sides (all dietary needs are catered for!) The rest of the stones plus the 5 Fog stones are put in the bag. Each player starts with 1 food token of each type in their Yurt. This is found on their player board where there is also a 5 stone long foundation trench for their wall.

Yakkety Yak

Yak is played in a series of Days consisting of Sunrise, Noon and Sunset. Each player has 3 action cards and these allow them to: Build, Restock or go to the Market. At Sunrise they each secretly select a card. Then at Noon the player who holds the baby Yak goes first and reveals the card.

Build allows the swapping of food for stones from the cart in front of them and place in their wall

Restock takes all the food of one type out of the cart and adds a randomly drawn stone into their cart

Market lets you take up to 2 food from the market place and then draw 3 stones from the bag to chose 1 and place it in any cart.

The Sun then sets and all the carts are moved on one space in the direction they are heading and the Baby Yak is passed on clockwise ready for a new day to dawn.

Get Back, Yak, Do It Again

So far, so straightforward but now comes the major twist (literally). When a Fog stone is drawn from the bag then all the carts are turned around and will head off in the reverse direction at Sunset! Stones will be drawn on Restock and Market actions and also if a Build action empties a cart it is replenished with 3 stones out of the bag.

The days roll by and the walls get high until one player has completed their 4th layer to signal the end of game. This player is awarded the ceremonial stupa which will be worth 3 points. That day is completed and one last day is played. You can play as many stones as you can legally take on the top of your wall. The scores are then added up to determine a winner.

Don’t Look Yak In Anger

Yak is a mellow, non-aggressive game. If you’re looking for a game with mighty clashes, tactical struggles and grand strategy this is not it! There is not a great deal of player interaction. The main way of spoiling your opponents’ fun is to take the stones that they are collecting – there are only 8 of each colour – or trying by getting stones drawn to release the Fog and reverse the flow of Yak carts so that cargo they were expecting to come in at Sunset sails off the other way into the er.. sunset. Turns tend to be tactical rather than strategic. Making the most of what you are faced with rather than planning many moves ahead.

Careful thought in how you build your wall to give you the best options on subsequent turns will reap rewards. You should aslo be prepared to switch your goals as different stones come up. The scoring system cleverly counterbalances points for big groups of stones against points for many multiple groups. When you add in the extra points or negative points for meeting or missing objectives on the bonus cards there are many paths your Yaks and masons may follow.

Yak’s The Way Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh, I Like It

As such this makes Yak a great family or gateway game. The box says from 8 years up and I wouldn’t disagree. Who’s not going to love all the Yaks and their little carts? I must fess up and say it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling when I open the box and set them up. I’d feel happy bringing it out to any group. All the pieces are so well-made and are a joy to handle and making towers of coloured bricks is fun too, just ask the people at Lego!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Yaks and Carts
  • Simple to Learn
  • Quite quick to play
  • Family Game
  • Lovely table presence

Might not like

  • Some colour cube confusion
  • No Deep Strategy
  • Loading and unloading carts can be fiddly