Welcome to Hike!, a game set in the fascinating world of dog sledding. You’ll be stepping into the boots of a musher, preparing for and participating in a thrilling sled race.

2-6 players, ages 8+
Playing time: 20-45 minutes
Designers: Blaž Hribar & Nika Mlinarič
Artwork: Paulina Wach

Publisher: SnowBoardGames

🏁 Hike! is essentially divided into two key phases – the Preparation phase and the Race phase. As in any competitive sport, preparing your team and equipment can significantly impact your performance during the race. Let’s look into these stages.

📝 Preparation Phase

🛷 Before the race begins, you need to set up your sled and team. This involves revealing and drafting cards from the husky deck, assembling your sled team, and preparing your equipment. A landscape card is revealed each day, which indicates the track conditions. This card allows you to prepare accordingly – perhaps you’d like to squeeze in some extra training or make sure you’ve packed the necessary gear.

🐺 Drafting huskies is an essential aspect of this phase, and the placement rules determine how your sled team is set up. Players take turns revealing cards from the husky deck, followed by taking an action such as drafting a husky to the sled or drafting a card to the hand which can help gather equipment and care cards.

🏁 Once your sled is complete with all huskies in place, you can declare that you’re ready to race. This involves moving your pawn to its dedicated slot on the start landscape card and placing any husky cards from your hand to the center of the table for other players to use. Other players have up to three more days to prepare, after which those not ready are out of the race.

🎉 Race Phase

🚀 This phase is where the adrenaline truly kicks in, as players navigate their way across the landscape cards using their huskies’ movement points and equipment. Each day, you move your pawn over the racetrack fields, using your experienced huskies’ movement points, equipment, and care cards. You must manage your huskies efficiently, as once a husky card is used, it becomes tired, and you’ll need to use a care card to re-energize it.

🌲 Some landscape cards require specific equipment. If you lack or do not wish to spend the required equipment card, you can still pass, but two of your huskies need to rest, rendering them unusable for the rest of the race.

🌅 At the end of each day, if you are more than six fields behind the leading player and don’t have any care cards, you get to draw a card from the care card pile. Once all players have taken their turn, the husky cards are reset, and another day of racing begins.

🏆 Ending and Winning the Game

🎉 The grand finale of the race is reached when at least one player successfully traverses the last field of the racetrack as the day concludes. In the case of multiple players finishing simultaneously, victory is bestowed upon the player commanding more ‘ready’ huskies.

Hike! is an engaging family game that seamlessly brings to life the exciting world of dog sledding. Designed by the duo, Blaž Hribar and Nika Mlinarič, it’s a race game that’s easy to understand and play, while offering players an immersive experience through its two-phase gameplay.

📝 In the first phase, you act as a musher in the Preparation stage. Don’t take this lightly! This phase is where you lay the foundation for your forthcoming race. It feels like a fast-paced mini-game where you draft cards from the husky deck, keenly ensuring your sled is ready for action. Remember, while putting together your sled team, it’s crucial to match the edges of neighboring huskies. The snowflakes on the husky cards symbolize movement points, guiding you on the terrain fields each husky can traverse daily during the race.

🏁 The second stage is the race itself, and it’s here where Hike! really shines. It’s a fun, intense, and strategic puzzle of efficiency. Can you smartly manage your huskies’ movement points and equipment to best navigate the landscape? Often, games come to thrilling, nail-biting finishes. The theme is well implemented in both phases, keeping players engaged throughout.

🎨 When it comes to visuals, Hike! has an edge. The artwork is commendable, beautifully enhancing the overall gaming experience. However, the components could have been given a more thematic touch. Instead of standard pawns and cubes, some unique, thematic wooden pieces would have added extra charm.

🔀 For those looking to add a twist to the game, there’s “Husky on the Loose,” an add-on expansion module. This clever extension introduces new interactions during the Preparation phase and brings an interesting twist of huskies running away and switching sleds.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 To sum it up, Hike! is an enjoyable, accessible filler game that offers a balanced blend of strategy and excitement, perfect for family game nights. It’s suited for all age groups, making it a great choice to introduce kids to strategic board games while having fun in the fascinating world of dog sledding races.

*Disclaimer: We received a review copy of the game from SnowBoardGames.

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