K3 - Wooden Board Game
WBG Score: 7/10
Player Count: 2-4
You’ll like this if you like: Azul, Patchwork, Hive.
Published by: Helvetiq
Designed by: Philippe Proux
Designer Philippe Proux has a passion for wood work, mountaineering and games. It doesn't come as much of a surprise that he brings the world K3, a wooden strategy game about climbing a mountain. Using beautifully crafted wooden pieces, the game works as a co-op or competitive game, and brings a delightful sensation of calm strategy to the table.
To set up K3, place all the wooden pieces bar the white and grey ones into the provided bag. A high quality cotton bag bringing added portability to this game. Draw nine pieces out at random and lay them out as the base of the mountain. All players will now draw pieces according to the player count. 17 each for a two player, 12 for a three player, and nine for a four player. Each player will also get a combination of the white and grey pieces depending on player count again.
Players must then quickly assort their pieces into a pyramid. With a base of six, five, or four depending on how many pieces you have. The first player to finish building their pyramid will take the first turn. The trick here is to be quick so you can go first, but not so quick that you build your pieces in a disadvantageous way.
On your turn, you will place a piece from your pyramid onto the base of the mountain, showing your route up the hazardous path. You may only take pieces that are available from your pyramid, as in, one that has no other pieces on top of it. And when placing your piece onto the mountain, it must touch one colour the same as its own.
As such, when you are setting up your pyramid, you will want to spread out the colours as best you can, and look to leave suitable pieces near the top, based on the colour of the pieces on the mountain base. You will also have your white and grey pieces which you will want to space out near the bottom third of the mountain, it's unlikely you will want them sooner. The grey pieces act as wild and can be placed on any colour. The white piece acts as you taking a rest. You remove the white piece from our pyramid, but do not place it onto the mountain. You do not forfeit your turn, or get penalised in anyway, but no progress is made up the mountain.
If you are ever in a situation where you cannot place a piece legally onto the mountain, or you are out of pieces before the mountain summit has been reached, then you are eliminated. This is a last player standing situation, so you must plan accordingly. The last player still in the game wins. If you are ever in a situation where you can only place a piece onto the mountain so that it touches two other pieces of the same colour then you must allow the following player to chose one of your accessible pieces to take as their own
There is also a cooperative variety where players work together to try and reach the summit. This works similarly to the main game, with players taking it in turns to place a piece onto the mountain with the same rules as the competitive game. Except victory here is attained by reaching the top with all players still in the game. If you do not make it or any player is eliminated, then all players loose.
Playing K3 feels very calming. The puzzle to first assort your own pyramid, and then place your pieces correctly onto the mountain so that you will not leave yourself short later in the game is one that I take great satisfaction from. Of course, in the competitive game, you can be scuppered by your opponents, but the challenge does feel more like a solitary one. You can of course see what pieces your opponents have coming up, and plan your move accordingly, it depends on how you wish to play. I prefer the cooperative experience where this doesn't happen.
Completing the mountain path feels fulfilling. Like you have achieved something as a team. But the game plays quick enough that any failed attempts can be quickly forgotten as another attempt for the summit is made. Missing out by one piece as the picture below shows can be a real heart break! Just one more wild, green or yellow for the top piece was needed!
This is a highly tactile game. From the beautifully constructed box, to the cotton bag, and finally the expertly crafted wooden pieces, everything feels like it has been made with real attention to detail and high quality. It is a delight to hold and manipulate these pieces in your hand. The hexagon shapes fit together side by side on the mountain beautifully. They roll in your finger tips so delightfully as you ponder you next move in a manner I think only board game hobbyist would understand!
This game feels unique in my collection. (Steadily reaching 500). This is an abstract strategy game at its heart. But the physical construction, built between players either cooperatively or competitively, brings something new to the table for me. This works perfectly as a quick filler or a game to take out with you to the park. I am always on the look out for weather proof games. Not just from the rain, but the wind too. Far to many cards have blown away from my exterior tables for my liking. A nice solid weighty piece like this always catches my eye. Find any flat surface and you will be playing in seconds.
This game worked well for me with my two children, (6 and 8) and I can see it being the perfect game to teach kids multiple game and physical disciplines. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys games such as Hive. This has a similar component quality to that, working in multiple environments and situations. It is simple enough to teach in minutes. But still with a challenge that will satisfy those looking for a quick, fun, strategic game.