Assault on Mt. Everest
Published by Eagle’s Nest Games (1976)
Review by Len Krol
Now is about the time the weather clears up enough to climb Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. Last year was very deadly, but maybe this year will be better. To understand why Everest is so dangerous, we must play Assault on Mt Everest.
This game comes in a bookcase box with a 23” x 35” map, 124 half inch counters, log sheet, three pages of rules with one sheet of simplified rules, and a red and white dice. The maps have Mt Everest as the background noting certain important features. There are no hexagons or squares. You are moving point by point to each base camp. Each camp has space to keep your party members, equipment and provisions. It even has a sequence of play listed.
Assault on Mt. Everest is a simulation of the first successful ascent on Mt. Everest in 1953. There are two nation teams, the British and the Swiss. While this game is meant as a two player game, you are fighting against the system. You will be playing two solitaire games side by side. You have from April 12 to May 29, to reach the top. The game usually does not last that long, because something always goes wrong. And it gets harder to do anything each turn. Your climbing party consists of twelve climbers who are identified by name, twelve high altitude Sherpas, and four teams of seven low altitude Sherpas.
There are two games that must be played to get to the top: The Buildup Phase, and the Assault Phase.
During the buildup phase, you start at Base Camp I. You need to establish routes to seven other camps, number II to VIII, to assault the top of Everest. At the beginning of a turn, you roll a D6. The result is the number of days that will pass until you set up the next camp.
Then you roll for a chance scenario. This is a random events table. You roll a red die and a white one and cross index them. The result is a number. The chance scenario page tells you what has occurred. Hopefully, no event occurs. Sometimes there are delays, but sometimes conditions improve that you can move faster.
Each carrier can carry one pack of camp equipment, or one pack of provisions or one assault pack. The camp equipment is tents and stoves and other non-perishable supplies. The provisions will feed eight people or a fraction of. The assault packs are used when making the assault on the peak.
Camps I through VI are the low altitude camps. After that only the climbers and the high altitude Sherpas can go higher. There are limits on how long you can stay above camp IV. The first three turns are not a problem. Afterwards you have to rest for a few turns. You keep track of how long you have been above camp IV and how long you have rested on your log sheet.
Now you have moved all you supplies and equipment to camp VIII. It is time to climb to the top of the world. First you roll a D6 to determine if the weather is clear enough. In the early part, you are almost certain to be clear, but near the end you have only one of six chances. The Assault turns are hourly terms. Next, you roll for a chance scenario/random event. Then you roll a D6 to determine how high you climb. You climb 150 feet times the number on the die roll. A one means 150 feet while a six means 900 feet. (You have to climb 3,100 feet to reach the top. You want some 6s.) Then you consume one ration from your assault pack each hour. You do this until you reach the top, turn back or run out of rations from your assault pack.
In my first attempt, I spread out my supplies along the base camps and had them guarded by a climber. Like a good war gamer I had garrisoned my supply lines. The problem was that each climber was eating eight rations each turn. I wasted a quarter of my rations before I noticed this problem. I spent the next couple of turns reorganizing. Then a rock and snow slide in camp VI destroyed most of my assault packs. I had only two assault packs left. I sent two climbers up, but they rolled low so I turned around before reaching the top.
On my second attempt, I was better organized and reached the top. The third time I tried, I broke down the rations. Instead of 80 rations, I had 640 rations. I felt that this worked better. If we were to do this one again, we could use change counters.
The game only takes about an hour and a half to play. Good planning is very important to win this game.
If this game was published today, we would have plastic tokens for the climbers, change counters to represent provisions, and you would have cards to flip to determine random events. This was published in 1976. By that standard, this is a quality game. It is equal in quality to what Avalon Hill was publishing at the time.
This game seemed to be aimed at a general audience. For those people this will be a complex game. The game designers warn you that “You have a real bear on your hands.” For a wargamer, I would rate this 4 out of 10 for complexity. The only problem is that sometimes you have to wait three or four turns until a base camp opens. You roll the dice for a chance scenario and then knock off a provision. People like to be very active when they play. Mountain climbing may be that way with a lot of hurry up and wait. I am not an expert on mountain climbing but this game seems right. A few Yeti or frost giant attacks or you can allow the climbing parties to fight it out at 25,000 feet with icepicks might liven up the game, but it will still be hard to get to the top.
I cannot remember when I bought this game. Maybe I bought it at a garage sale. Only recently, have I made an effort to play this game. Who designed and published this game? I cannot find any information. If anyone knows, tell them that they did a good job.
Watch the unboxing video below to see the components: