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Scottish Highland Whisky Race» Forums » Reviews

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James Torr
United States
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Buy less, play more.
I got to try this one last night. It’s a race game in which you’re trying to pick up whisky tiles and sell them at pubs along the race track.

The goal of the game is not to win the race but to get the most victory points (winning the race helps accomplish this goal since you get VPs for being 1st, 2nd, and 3rd). Along the race track there are various whiskey tiles you can pick up, along with tiles that represent pubs which will buy the whisky tiles from you (for VPs). There are also tiles that let you do other special actions.

The core mechanic is the blind bidding of brown “malt” cubes to determine movement. The person who bid the most cubes goes first, on down based on number of cubes bid. If two players tie in the bidding, they must negotiate for who goes first, and are allowed to offer cubes, whisky tiles, and I think even VPs as part of the negotiation. If they can’t agree, neither player moves, but both must still pay the cubes they bid (cutthroat players will soon realize there is a lot of room for extortion here).

The number of cubes you bid is also how many cubes you may use to move. Movement is interesting. If you are alone on a space, it costs 1 cube to move to the next space. But if you are on a space with one other person, it takes 2 cubes to move off. If you’re with 2 other people, it takes 3 cubes to move on, and so on. So if there are players ahead of you on the track and you want to move past them, you have to take that into account in your bid.

Much of the wacky fun of the game comes from the fact that players behind you can thwart you by bidding more than you, then moving past you so that the number of cubes you bid is no longer enough to get where you intended to go, since now you have to pay extra to pass them. For whatever number of cubes you bid, you must move as far as you can, so if you end up being off by one it means the differencing between landing on a tile or not.

Also, you can only pick up whisky, sell whiskey at the pubs, and use other special tiles if you are alone on the space that has the tile. If 2 people land on a tile, neither can use it. So out-guessing your opponents about where everyone’s going to go is the heart of the game.

The whisky tiles also can be used/drunk once to give you various special powers (such as move yourself or another player 2 spaces in either direction, or try to steal another person’s whisky or malt tiles).

Finally, there is a special token representing The Englishman. He moves 3 spaces per round, and if he ever passes you when he moves, he taxes you for 1 malt cube per whisky tile that you have. A couple of the special tiles let you move the Englishman.

If the Englishman gets to the end of the track before any of the players, then rather than getting victory points for being in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the race, the players in the lead lose victory points for being closest to The Englishman.

We had fun with the game. I didn’t mind the blind bidding and the need to outguess opponents, but players who hate those mechanics are advised to stay away. My biggest criticism was the difficulty of remembering what all the special tiles did – they added a bit of a fiddly element to an otherwise light game. But I would definitely like to play again, and I may need to own this game just because of the theme
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