I am not an expert on skiing. I have skied a total of 1 time, I do know however that the newest game Alpenglow by Sean Wittmeyer published by Water Works Games is a fun time and will put your mind in the mountains.
What is Alpenglow anyhow? Well the word apen is german for "Alps"which is a mountain range in central Europe (coincidentally where I went skiing my one and only time). So the word Alpenglow simply means glowing mountains. This happens at sunrise or sunset when sunlight is reflected on to the mountains by clouds making the mountains glow before the sun rises or after it sets. It really is a beautiful thing. We are not here to discuss the inner workings of atmospheric anomalies we are here for board games!
We are not here to discuss the inner workings of atmospheric anomalies we are here for board games!
What is Alpen Glow? Its a 2-5 player game that simulates a ski village and the nearby slopes. Players will build up the village to entice more skiers to the village and then bring them to the slopes they have build. To get the skiers to the slopes players will build and upgrade their chair lift network. The entire game takes place over 2 ski seasons (rounds) with each player taking 5 turns during each season. Players will earn Victory Points (VP) for getting skiers to the slopes, completing their secret goal, building buildings, and their chair lifts.
The board is divided up into two parts one side has the village and the other the mountain. The Village has a 5x5 grid of squares, this is where players will build all the buildings for the village. There will be 7 initial building that start the game and 16 vacant lots around them. The board has the recommended starting configuration printed on it. You can use that or shuffle the tiles that come with the game and deal them out randomly. The other side of the board has a bunch of hexagons snaking around the mountain. This is where players will place different colored hexes representing each kind of ski run. The players will also be placing their chalets and chair lifts here too. Players place their chalets next to the terminals around the edge of the mountain. This will be the starting place of their chair lift network. The terminals are also printed on the board for that first game or you may randomly place tiles here also.
Each players turn consists of 4 actions. The first of these actions is to choose a bus stop and collect the skiers shown on the building. Then a player will play a run card. These cards do 2 things first they add a hexagonal tile to the slopes of the matching color. Then the cards had an action printed on the bottom half. Alternatively if you have an untenable hand you can discard all your cards and collect $3. As we have been playing this we did not see a real advantage in doing this unless you were really broke and had bad cards, we think its best to keep playing the cards you have as there are only 10 actions for each player in a game. The next action is to build or upgrade a chair lift or build a building. The chair lifts are a great way to score VP and the more skiers you have the more capacity a player will need. Building buildings is how a player gets more skiers over to their slopes and another great way to gain VP. The player who build each building can take a special action each time they or another player uses it with their bus stops. The final part of the turn is to open the ski area and deliver skiers. Players choose what skiers they want to deliver to each run (hexes with tiles) the skier cube must match the ski run and a player must have enough chair lift capacity to get skiers to the runs.
Alpenglow mixes area control with pickup and deliver set in a idyllic winter village.
To start the game and at the beginning of season 2 players will take turns placing all 5 of their bus meeples in the town. The meeples have to be in orthogonality adjacent spaces to each of the other meeples that player has placed. This will be used during each of the 10 turns of the game 5 for each season. There is a row of cards at the top of the board and the deck when players are refilling their hands at the end of each turn they can choose either a face up card or one from the top of the deck.
Alpenglow mixes area control with pickup and deliver set in a idyllic winter village. The game plays quite quick after the first time you play. There are a lot of points that build into the rich set of decisions players will make during the game. The secret goal cards will drive players one direction or another to get those bigger pay offs but for the most part this game is a giant skiing sand box, well that did not sound right... But players will have an enjoyable time playing this especially with the 3-4 player count. For me it seems like the game could go one more season but then there would need to be more ski run areas to accommodate the higher player counts.
Alpenglow has a lot of tokens and pieces in the box but the rules are fairly simple and the game is easy to learn. There is a bunch of complex strategy and moving parts on the bisected board that make for great decision making. This is a perfect centerpiece for a game night especially with a nice hot drink and the fire place going on these upcoming winter nights. We enjoyed playing Alpenglow and got into the theme, you don't even have to know anything about skiing to enjoy Alpenglow.
Year Published: 2024
Recommended Ages: 13+
Time to Play: 45-120 minutes
A copy prototype copy of Alpenglow was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games for this review by Water Works Games. The images depicted in this preview may not reflect the end product.