Title: Mountain Goats
Designed By: Stefan Risthaus
Art By: Anca Gavril and Daniel Profiri
Published By: All Play (formally BoarGameTables.com)
Player Count: 2-4
Time to Play: 20 Minutes
Mountain Goats from All Play formally BoardGameTables.com) is a dice rolling, king of the hill game where your goal is to get your goats up the mountain to claim the victory points on the top. Each turn you roll 4 dice and then form groups of dice with the results of that roll. Dice can be in groups of 1-4. Each group that totals 5-10, allows you to move your corresponding mountain goat up one space on the matching mountain. Meaning that if you rolled a 2, 3, 5, 6 you could combine the 2 and 3 to make a 5 and move your 5 goat up the mountain twice and your six goat up the mountain once. You could instead combine the 2 and the 5, and the 3 and the 6 and move your 7 goat and 9 goat once each. Or you could combine the 2, 3, and 5 goats and move your 10 goat once, and your 6 goat once. The easier the number is the achieve the higher the mountain is that your goat must climb to reach the top. Once a goat makes it to the top of a mountain, they knock down any goat that currently resides there and claims a token from the matching mountain number. On future turns, if a player is still on the top of the mountain, and they roll a matching number, they can claim another token from that mountain.
The game continues with goats battling to be at the top of the mountains, until one of two things happen. The first is that 3 of the piles, run out of tokens. The second is that all of the bonus tokens are claimed. Bonus tokens award extra points and are given when a player completes a set of one token from each mountain top. If either happens, the round finishes and the game ends. Players total up their points from the tokens and whoever has the highest score is the G.O.A.T.
What's purr-ty cool:
Easy of Entry: Mountain Goats has quickly become one of my favorite quick games, or games to bring people into the hobby. It is really easy to teach new gamers, as it's main rules are role some dice, add some numbers, move a goat. That said, sometimes simplicity is the way to go, and for Mountain Goats, it really does work well. I like how Mountain Goats takes the familiar roll and move mechanic that is common in classic games, and adds a twist to it. Rather than your decisions being dictated by a single roll of the dice, players can use the roll results and make simple choices that allow them to manipulate which piece they want to move. This gives greater quality interaction, then say rolling to move in Monopoly. Players are making choices as a result of the dice roll, and their entire game is not decided for them. However, because many people that have only ever played classic games are familiar with the roll and move strategy, this can help them take the next step in their board game journey. It builds on what they know, and scaffolds learning something new. For more experienced gamers, Mountain Goats is still quite fun. It's definitely light, but you do have a good amount of agency when it comes to what pieces to move. It makes a great filler game, or something quick to play when you don't have the brain space for a heavier game.
Art and Components: Mountain Goats looks good on the table. I like how this game uses cards instead of a board to make the mountain. This allowed everything to fit into a very tiny, portable box. The cards have helpful numbers on them that allow you to quickly lay out the mountain. The cards form a continuous picture when played out in order, and the colors are bold and vibrant. Besides, the actual colors of the goats, the art is solely decorative, as it is the numbers that actually matter. So for players who are color-blind, this colorful background should not be an issue. Speaking of the goats, the goat meeples are so cute! I love how they bring the game slightly more off the table than if they had used tokens. Making the player pieces custom shaped goats definitely added to the theme more than using basic cubes would have done.
Strategy: There are two big things when it comes to the strategy of Mountain Goats that I enjoyed. First is that, players have to decide whether to go for high points, and move less goats, or lower points, but likely be able to move more. Players need to think about whether it is worth is to knock a fellow player down at a specific moment, or wait. Sometimes, it may be worth it to wait and see if another player is going to knock them down for you. Other times, you might want to score that last token you need to claim a bonus (see what I meant about the choices impacting your rolling and moving). The other piece of the strategy that I like is that if you roll 2 or more "1"s, you get to manipulate all but 1 of them to be any number you want. This can really turn a crappy role into something useful.
Educational Potential: This is not usually a category I comment on, but seeing as how I am in a Masters program based around educational games, I thought it was worth mentioning. If you have young children that are learning about addition, playing Mountain Goats is definitely a lot more fun than a math worksheet. Learners can work on simple addition when determining how they will group their dice. I am pretty sure this was not an intended goal when the designer made the game, but it is definitely a fun and useful result.
Overall, Mountain Goats was a lot of fun to play, and with it's itty bitty box is certainly a game I will be bringing with me to lots of places.
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.