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Subject: Moving the element of luck from the climber's decisions to the weather rss

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Martin Sharman
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This is a great game, and kudos to Adam for managing to pack so much atmosphere into a rather beautiful box.

I feel, however, (as someone who has never seen the sharp end of a mountain close up) that the element of luck in the game is slightly misplaced.

The weather is determined for at least 3 days into the future, which is to say that the game doesn’t model the highly changeable weather at high altitude. At the same time, the player has little opportunity to mitigate the effect of chance in the way the deck is shuffled, so the game includes rather a large element of luck in the decisions open to the climber.

A simple way of putting more responsibility into the hands of the climber is to allow the player to select 3 from 9 cards, instead of 3 from 6.

The end of the deck is dealt with in the same way as in the standard rules, so after the player has selected 3 from the last hand of 9, they will then have to select 3 from the 6 left over, and then use the final 3.

But to balance this increase in the power of the player to make more reasoned, long-term choices on movement and acclimation, the weather must become less predictable.

There are many ways to achieve this, but I’ve been using a method that depends on three differently-coloured six-sided dice and 4 look-up tables (LUT).

The first LUT shows the weather forecast for the day after tomorrow. It contains 6 cells, 2 each for “excellent”, “normal” and “awful”.

The second shows the forecast for tomorrow. It has 6 columns and 3 rows (“excellent”, “normal” and “awful”), with 4 of the cells in the top row being “excellent” and 2 “normal”, and 2 in the bottom row being “normal” and 4 “awful”, and the middle row having 1 “excellent”, 4 “normal” and 1 “awful” cell.

The third has 6 columns, the leftmost being for “better” weather than forecast yesterday, and the rightmost being for “worse”. The rows in the table correspond to 6 altitude bands. I use 8000+, 7000+, 6000+, 5000+, 7000-8000 and 6000-8000, corresponding to “summit”, “peak”, “upper slopes”, “whole mountain (not base camp)”, “final approach” and “mid mountain”. The “worse” than forecast extends into the 5th column for the first and the last two rows, so that the table has a total of 9 “worse” cells.

The final LUT is in two parts, one for summer and one for winter. Each part has 3 rows and 3 columns, the rows labelled “excellent”, “normal” and “awful”, and the columns “better”, “as forecast” and “worse”. Each of the 9 cells of one of these tables contains a movement and an acclimation penalty - most of which are 0, the remainder being 1 or 2, with the frequency as near as possible to that of the original weather tiles in K2.

In any turn except the first, the tokens are cleared from today’s conditions LUTs (the third and fourth) and the 3 dice rolled. The red die determines the altitude band that is affected by the weather, and the green die determines whether it is going to be better, as forecast, or worse than forecast. That result is then used to determine the penalties corresponding to today’s conditions in the summer or winter LUT in the altitude band affected.

Tomorrow’w weather forecast is determined by moving the token from the LUT of the forecast of the day after tomorrow to the corresponding row, and then sliding it across to the column determined by the green die.

Finally the weather of the day after tomorrow is forecast using the result showing on the white die.

This all takes a great deal longer to describe than to do. Using this method to determine today’s movement and acclimation penalties and the weather forecast for tomorrow and the next day needs one dice roll and takes about 15-20 seconds.

This method means that while players know what the long range forecast says, there’s a chance the weather could turn out to be better or worse than forecast. The major difference, however, between this method and the (admittedly far easier!) method in the published game, is that nobody knows until the day has started what altitude band will be affected by the weather. That has the effect, particularly in times of bad weather, of shifting the tactics away from a long-range plan to a series of on-the-spot decisions about how to cope with the weather.

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