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K3 Game Review

Reach out and touch the sky

Helvetiq makes super cool mini games. Join Andy in his review of K3, a game of ascent.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

K3 is the 17th tallest mountain in the world (at just over 26,000 feet). It’s part of a range of mountains collectively known as Gasherbrum, located on the border between Pakistan and China. While not the tallest mountain in the world, the primary massive exposed rock face, nicknamed “Shining Wall,” is thought to have inspired the name of the entire mountain range.

First ascended in 1958, K3 remains a favorite of serious mountain climbers all over the world. And even though playing this game isn’t quite as heart-poundingly exciting as climbing the real thing, I think you’ll agree that it’s still a clever puzzle on its own.

Let me tell you about K3.

K3 Overview

Presented in a square box barely larger than a fist, K3’s simple Swiss-style graphic design will catch your eye. After opening the box and spilling out the mega-sized hexagonal pieces, your attention will be captured as well.

The goal of K3 is to be the last person who can place one of their pieces on the mountain.

All red, yellow, blue, black, and green hexagonal pieces are placed in the bag to set up the game. Draw 9 out and line them up to act as the base of the mountain. Next, each player receives a white and a tan (wild) hexagonal piece, along with a number of randomly drawn colored pieces, based on player count. Using these pieces, you will construct a small pyramid (base camp), which will act as your supply. Take note here because there’s actually some strategy in how you place your pieces, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Over the course of the game you will pull pieces from your base camp and place them onto the central line, using the following set of rules:

  • You can take a piece from your base camp only if it is accessible (no other piece on top of it).
  • Pieces you place on K3 must sit on top of two other pieces.
  • Colored pieces must be placed on top of at least one piece of the same color (or a tan wild piece). Tan pieces can be placed on top of any color piece.
  • If you place a piece on top of 2 of the same color piece, you receive a penalty, which allows the previous player to take one of the pieces from your base camp and put it next to their base camp to be used on a future turn.
  • Pulling a white piece from your base camp allows you to “pass”. This action can only be done once per game (unless a white piece is taken by another player).

The game is over when only one player is able to pull a piece from their base camp and place it onto K3.

K3 Final Thoughts

The first time I opened the box, I was delighted. The chunky pieces poured out into a stream of wooden bits; it’s hard not to immediately grab a handful they’re so big. But what about the gameplay?

K3 is a puzzle, pure and simple…but one in which you don’t know how all the pieces will go together. Because all of the colors are randomized, you might wind up with a few of each color, or mostly black. And the thing with K3 is that you always have to keep your options open. You are limited to the available spots on the mountain, and you can only play accessible pieces from your base camp hoping they line up. One of the delightful elements of this game is even though your choices for placement are decreasing, your options for which piece to pull increase. Another helpful thing is that at any point in the game you can look at the other players and see what options they have. You can use this information to your advantage and make sure to pull and place pieces that will open up new pieces for you in future turns while hopefully closing off options to your opponents.

K3 isn’t deep, but it is clever and fun, and only takes about 10-15 minutes, and makes a perfect opener or filler game. It’s definitely worth checking out if you have the chance.


K3 details

About the author

Andy Matthews

Founder of Meeple Mountain, editor in chief of MeepleMountain.com, and software engineer. Father of 4, husband to 1, lover of games, books, and movies, and all around nice guy. I run Nashville Game Night, and Nashville Tabletop Day.

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