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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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Yak Review

Yak Close Up

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

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