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King of the Mountain» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A capsule overview of the game, with component manifest rss

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King of the Mountain
A Complete Fantasy Game for 2 - 10 Players
Dimension Six
(1980, $15.00)
Designed by Michael Dinacola

Players: 2 to 11
Playing Time: 45 minutes to 3 hours
Period: Fantasy
Scale: Tactical
-- Turn: not stated
-- Map: not stated
-- Unit: individual men and monsters

Box: bookcase box.

Components: 29x22" mounted mapboard, 156 die-cut counters, 12 page rulebook, 2 identical cards of charts and tables, sheet of 12 uncut character cards (ten characters and two blanks), pair of dice. (NOTE: My unpunched second-hand copy of this game did not include any dice, and the manifest listed in the Space Gamer review did not note dice either, but the component list in the game does says it includes a pair of dice.)

Counter Manifest: 78 white, 78 blue. White - 27 weapon, 24 wound, 10 player characters, 9 armor, 8 shield. Blue - 25 gargoyle, 10 tunnel, 5 behemoth, 5 fire lizard, 5 giant barbarian, 5 lummox, 5 sleen, 5 dummy monsters, 13 blanks.

Dimension Six says: "A moderate-skill level strategy game for two to ten players, ages 8-adult. The many original ideas should please both novice and expert alike. King of the Mountain is fast-moving and challenging, without overburdening the players with too many complex rules."

The developer says: "King of the Mountain is a strategy game of moderate complexity . . . The object is to be the first player to take his/her character to the Citadel at the Peak and attain the Wizard's prize. One player controls the actions of the Wizardand the monsters the other players will encounter; the object for this player is to eliminate all other characters before any of them reaches the Citadel . . . Each character has ratings for Strength, Endurance, Morale, Speed, Offensive capability, and Defensive capability. The characters equip themselves before beginning their journey by choosing from the store's inventory, which has limited supplies of all items." Mark Simmons in The Dragon #44.

The reviewer says: "One player is the wizard, the rest begin around the edges of the mapboard and are the challenging heroes. Both heroes and (wizard-controlled) monsters must stay on the paths or in the tunnels. Only gargoyles may enter rough terrain . . . The game involves semi-hidden movement. Heroes, when in tunnels, remove their counters from the map. Monster counters, along with five dummy counters, are usually turned face down, concealing which of five monster types they are . . . The map doesn't always coincide with the hex grid. The counters are oversized. The mapboard begins to fray at the folds after 10 or more games. The graphics are bland. The greatest drawback might be the suggested price . . . at $8 I might recommend it, at $15, I won't." David Ladyman in The Space Gamer #36.

Comments: I ordered this game on a whim about a year ago, mainly because it was unpunched and I hadn't seen a copy up for sale before. I should have resisted.

Despite the mounted mapboard, King of the Mountain is a low budget, bare bones fantasy game at heart; and perhaps it would have fared better as a ziplock minigame. The aim is simple - be the first to succesfully reach the Citadel at the center of the board. King of the Mountain's sketchy background story is generic and lifeless, something that generally spells disaster for a fantasy game. The simple monochrome counters don't do much to draw the player in either, and they look even more out of place on a full color mapboard which uses a realistic Squad Leader style depiction of the terrain.

The developer's article in The Dragon #44 states that the designer was "an old-time wargamer who claimed to have never played or even looked at another fantasy game in his life." It shows.

Collector's Notes: Boone's Internet Wargames Catalog (3rd edition) does not list this game, nor have I noticed it up for sale very often. I think the suggestion in the Space Gamer review applies equally well today - you might want to grab a copy of this game if you can find it for $8 (unpunched), but I wouldn't recommend buying it for $15.

This article was originally published in issue 15 of Simulacrum, April 2002.

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