My d4 D.I.C.E. review can be found here
Ski Tour Biathlon is a one to five player, dice rolling, race game with a modular board and variable player powers. It is designed by Tobias Olsson and soon to be published by Tea Time Productions.
In Ski Tour Biathlon you play as a nation competing against other nations in an attempt to ski and shoot your way to victory. Do you have the stamina to be faster than your opponents and the steady hand to hit all the targets? Well now you can find out.
The modular board is made up of various corners, uphill, downhill and shooting sections that can be arranged in either the recommended set up or however you wish.
The game plays over two phases, preparation and race. In the preparation phase all players roll their available dice and place them in various columns depending on their numbers.
In the race phase players can take all of their dice from one column and move that exact amount of spaces on the board. Players may also reduce their stamina by one to take the dice from another column for extra movement.
If the players are on the shooting range they must shoot five targets (using the dice in the columns) by rolling the shooting dice. There are four different shooting dice that represent your accuracy and you roll the dice in relation to your stamina level. The more tired you are the less accurate you will be. For any missed targets players will need to perform a lap of the penalty track.
Each player also has a number of “wax” tokens which can be used during their turn to allow them to reroll dice, add extra dice to what they have taken, reroll dice and many other special abilities.
Play continues this way until all players have crossed the finish line. The first player to do so takes the gold medal and is crowned the winner.
At its core Ski Tour Biathlon is a roll to move game, however, there are some interesting mechanisms which have been added in to the game which set it apart from a standard roll to move.
Stamina is effectively a resource that you have to manage. If you spend too much stamina then you are going to have a harder time hitting the targets on the shooting range, as you would expect. I like the integration of the stamina mechanisms in to the theme of the game. The more misses you have the more penalty laps you do and hence the slower around the track you will be.
There is also a drafting mechanism which allows you to move when another player moves and you are positioned behind them. This drafting allows you to follow their exact movement for free. The opposing player can however “sprint” ahead and leave you behind and unable to draft, but this costs stamina.
There are also uphill and downhill sections of the board which give you additional movement or diminished movement respectively. Careful planning of which dice to take and how the wax tokens can help you is key to maximising these bonus downhill movements or reducing the penalty of the uphill struggle.
The bonus tokens are good addition and I like how players can only choose the left or right most token from their board. However, the importance of how these are ordered in the set up might not be understood to new players. If a player hasn’t used the “reroll shooting dice” token after his last target then this effectively blocks the other tokens. Something to make people aware when teaching the game.
There is also, as with most dice games, a huge luck element. You can have a big set back if you have a bad shooting roll and the tokens to mitigate that might not be accessible.
One thing to point out that in a two player each player controls two nations. I can understand why this has been done and it is not a big burden to control two nations, I am just not a fan of handling scaling in this way. I wish there would have been some other method of scaling for two players. So I would say that this game probably plays better at the higher player counts.
Ski Tour Biathlon is a fun light hearted race game. It has some lovely looking artwork and the skeeples (complete with a riffle strapped to their back) are fantastic and very in keeping with the theme.
Please note – Ski Tour Biathlon was provided as a review copy from Tea Time Productions