Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Aren’t You Glad We Left the Hollow for the Guardian Free Safety of the Peaks? What’s That?!

Maul Peak Box Cover

Before I begin, I was sent a prototype of this game, and may receive a copy of the game should it fund.  This is not a paid preview. You can check out my video of this preview below. Get your own copy here.

I like two player games.  Like, a lot.  I don’t like them quite as much as game I can solo, but its close.  However, it is a special one that sticks on my shelf that will regularly come out.  In fact in the years since I began covering games there are only two that stand out as ones I would classify as “the best”.  These are Dice Command, and Skulk Hollow.  Yep.  You’re clever you can see where I am going with this.  

Seeing how Maul Peak is a the standalone expansion to Skulk Hollow I was shouting “YES, I WANT TO COVER THIS!”, almost before the fine folks at Pencil First Games had finished sending me the email.  I love Skulk Hollow, but would I love Maul Peak as well, or would it simply be a retread of the original?

In Maul Peak you will take on the role of either the Grizzar (honking big bears) or the Guardians (think Shadow of the Colossus colossi-cause clearly that is the plural of colossus).  If you are the Grizzar you will use your growing rage to summon more Grizzar to the field to make your way to the Guardian, clamber your way up its limbs and start smashing.  If you are the Guardian, you will do your best to slay all the Grizzar you see, and/or strive to accomplish your own unique win condition.

On your turn you will play a set number of cards, most of the cards will have a choice of two different actions you can take.  These will likely be some combination of move, attack, gain rage (or energy as the Guardian), and use special powers.  Follow what the card says and do your best to beat the tar out of your opponent.  Most games take around 30 minutes to play, and the box comes with 4 Guardians, and several “Winter Beasts” which give your Grizzar leader a different feel.

There are also rules included that allow you to cross over Guardians, or the Foxen from Skulk Hollow, and additional rules that allow you to do an all out battle featuring 2 Guardians and both forest creature armies.

So what do I think?

Delectable

This game is pure asymmetric goodness.  The Guardians are all distinct from both each other, and from the previous games Guardians.  The Grizzar also have managed to feel completely distinct from the Foxen of Skulk Hollow.  This means there are tons combinations that you can create when you play the game, keeping it fresh almost every time.  

I also love the simplicity of the card play, there are plenty of options available, but not so many that it ever feels overwhelming.  I also greatly appreciate the flow of the game, there is usually a strong back and forth with both sides finding themselves close to victory and/or defeat multiple times throughout the game…unless you are playing with Pnecil First Games’ Eduardo Baraf…then you just lose.

Tasty

Fun art, and good production.  I only had a prototype and I can already see this is going to be a high quality production.

Edible

There is far more skill to this game than I ever realized.  In fact, I had begun to fool myself that I was pretty darn good at Skulk Hollow…that is until I played with the publisher and got waxed.  The game is truly combo-tastic but these are things that you will only learn over time, and you probably will not simply stumble into them either.  Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is worth noting that if you are playing against someone who has played many times before, then you are probably going to lose.

As with Skulk Hollow, the way the board is set up, and the way movement works is confusing to some the first few times they play, once you get it, you get it, but I have certainly encountered plenty of people who had a tough time with this out of the gate.

I would also be remiss if I did not whine about the lack of ability to battle Guardian against Guardian or Foxen vs Grizzar, though that would not really be in line with the theme…but what can I say?  I want it.

Bringing it all together

Maul Peak continues both the story and the fun of Skulk Hollow.  It manages to hold on to all the wonderful things from the previous game, and manage to make the new Guardians and Grizzar feel distinct from each other and their predecessors.  This is a lightning fast head to head game that is fun and unique every time you set it up.  There is a little bit of a learning curve, and a bit of skill in the game, but for someone looking for a head to head game this is a can’t miss.  For fans of Skulk Hollow, this is a must own.

Can’t Read!  Running from Guardian!

* All the fun of Skulk Hollow, with completely unique Guardians and Grizzar
* New mechanics are fun and thematic
*.Good art, good production
* There is a bit of skill to this one, so someone who has played before will have an advantage
* Still wish I could battle Guardians against each other, or the armies against each other
* A must own for fans of Skulk Hollow

Will "Hungry" Brown
Will "Hungry" Brownhttps://www.facebook.com/HungryGamerReviews/
Will "Hungry" Brown is an actor, producer, teacher, and passionate board game player, hoping to find new games and help you find new games to play. Will AKA The Hungry Gamer, has stepped up to fill the role of Lead Board Game Reviewer here at G33K-HQ!

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