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Subject: Skinning Winter Tales rss

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Kris Rhodes
United States
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To skin, oddly, is to take skin _off_.

In Winter Tales, players manage a pool of resources, represented by cards, balancing between spending these resources for a quick early game payoff, and on the other hand saving them for use during a final confrontation. Resources used in that final confrontation contribute directly to the team's score, but it can be worth it to spend a few of these precious resources early to gain an advantage during the earlier stages.

The basic mechanic is point to point movement. Players begin the game at various points on the map. Certain points on the map are designated hot spots. Players can spend cards to move around on this map, in order to jockey for position. Ultimately players want to be in a position such that when a hot spot is triggered, their pieces are both close enough to easily get to that hot spot, and also, able to be activated during that very turn. (Timing becomes important here--you may spend resources to move a piece into range, only to find that the hot spot is triggered before you get a chance to re-activate that piece, knocking it out of play for that hot spot resolution.)

The teams have the power to interfere with each others' movement by raising the price of movement in a pretty cool asymetrical way.

One team has the power to "battle" the other when their pieces try to cross an occupied zone. To battle is to spend a resource to raise the cost of movement by one. But if the player goes ahead and pays this additional cost, the battling player may now choose to raise the cost by one _again_. In this way players may find themselves spending far more than they expected for movement--or may simply give up and return home having lost a lot of resources.

Meanwhile the other team has the power to "trap" opponents. Rather than spending one card at a time as in battles, a trapping player _secretly_ plays _several_ cards, and the person trying to move through must then try to guess how many cards were played by playing cards of his own. If he guessed too low, he must move back. If he did bet enough cards, though, he may move through--though if he bet _too_ many cards he may regret the loss!

Anyway, when hot spots are activated, every player in the game has a chance to declare whether they will be activating a piece in response. At this point, participating players gather extra resources, then may move around the map for a final positioning for the hotspot resolution.

Once everyone is in position, the hot spot resolution begins: Each participating player _who managed to reach the hotspot_ now selects, in turn, a number of resources to pay. Simply put, the team that spent the most resources wins. So it is to each team's advantage to make careful decisions at each stage during this round as to whether a player should blow a lot of resources or play conservatively, based on what the other team has and what the other team has done during the resolution.

Play continues until a number of hotspots have been resolved (this can vary from game to game, depending on how long the players want the game to be). By the way players can, at will, generate new hotspots--though there is some randomness involved in where they will actually appear when generated.

Once the number of hotspot resolutions have been resolved, a final confrontation begins. This confrontation basically involves counting how many cards each player has left in hand. If they have played conservatively prior to this, they might have a lot of cards at this point. If they've been playing aggressively to win hotspots, they may not have that many left. This is what the balancing act turns on, since each card in hand is now worth a point, while won hotspots are worth three points each.

The score is counted, and the team with the most points wins.

Also the cards have squiggles on them but I couldn't figure out what those were for.
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John Greek
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What I really really like to watch is a fun playthrough of this game! I have´nt got the chance to play it yet but I am enamored with the idea behind it.
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