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Subject: Run with the herd! rss

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Ted Groth
United States
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In this thread by luniki asking about possible expansions and fan art, duchamp suggested the possibility of moving obstacles such as animals crossing the track. That gave me an idea:

Have a herd of animals positioned on the track, that moves forward in the same direction as the sleds. This way if you move too slowly your sled will be stuck among them for a very long time, but of course moving quickly through the herd would be difficult.

You will need ten (10) animals.
The does (doeples) from Antler Island would be a perfect fit, representing reindeer, or caribou, but the animeeples made for Agricola could work too. The cows (cowples) could represent elk or moose well enough, or the sheep (sheeples) could be bighorn sheep, etc. (Just don't use the pigs!) I am sure there are other games with appropriate pieces too. Feel free to suggest them.

Use one of the special track sections indicating trees (saplings) but place one of these animals instead of each of the trees.

Movement of the herd:
The animals in the herd begin to move after the turn in which the first sled reaches the track section with the animals on it. Before the first player moves next turn, all the animals move. This pattern continues each turn after all the players have moved, until all the sleds have passed the herd.

Herd movement is determined one animal at a time, beginning at the front. If two animals are even in position, the animal toward the right side of the track (red flag) moves first. Each animal is moved in turn until the entire herd has moved, then the player turns begin.

Movement on straight or special tracks: Each animal moves forward two spaces, if possible. If there is an obstacle, the animal may drift one space to the right to avoid it. If there is an obstacle that direction, then the animal may drift to the left instead.

Movment on curved tracks: If the animal starts on a curved track piece, then the animal will drift one space toward the inside, while moving two spaces forward. If there is an obstacle, then the animal may move straight forward, or drift one space toward the outside instead.

The animals do not leave the track. If it is not possible for the animal to move two spaces forward then it only moves one space or (rarely) might remain still.

Movement of the sleds:
If your sled runs into an animal, treat this exactly the same as when you run into another sled. You don't take a dent card, but your turn stops immediately, and you do not take any cards to refill your hand, this turn. Otherwise the sled movement is exactly the same as the standard game.

The herd is slower than the sleds, but fast enough to create an interesting obstacle. In my playtest, the animals stayed with the sleds beyond their starting section, through a u-turn, and into part of another straight section.

The animals bunch up a bit in the curves, and at a speed of two spaces with one space of drift, they tend to block the inside lanes, making curves very treacherous for the sleds!

The herd can completely block the chasm, or snowdrift special track pieces, and afterwards the herd is set into two long lines, with the other lanes open. But if these special track pieces are at least three sections later, it won't matter. The long lines after these special sections can also be broken up a bit, by placing a curve just after the special section to direct the herd across the track.

I don't think I will use this variation all the time, but it does provide a "change of pace."

A more difficult set-up option would be to place the sapling trees and use them as normal, but also place an animal starting in the empty space behind each tree. If you do this, the movement of the animals should be adjusted to allow them to jump over any saplings that get in the way, instead of moving around them. This prevents them from bunching up too much at the start.

You could move the animals at a speed of three or more intead of two spaces. This will keep the herd with the sleds for a longer distance. If the speed is too high though and the drift is kept at one space per turn, then the animals tend bunch up on the outside of the curved track sections instead, which doesn't work as well.

edited to clarify language, correct some of the errors.
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Daniel Danzer
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Yessir! My son will like that! And owning Antler Island we have no problem getting all those does ...

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