World Cup Ski-ing
OK, I FINALLY got around to trying out Owzat Games Downhill Skiing World Cup game. It's a lot of fun and actually a very clever design that doesn't become really apparent until you start playing.
"Courses" are made up of several course section cards that represent certain portions of each course. A course section could be short, medium or long, it could have an extra ordinary difficulty, it could call upon different skiing skills such as speed, or the ability to handle lots of turns, bumps or jumps respectively. By combining different course section cards to make a course, every course is unique and individual.
In addition to the skills mentioned above, skiiers are also rated for their Control ability (which can start out good or bad to start the race depending on the skiier) and their gambling ability to charge ahead and take chances.
Each section you approach, you choose a mode of skiing, Caution, Normal or Charge. This mode not only affects your time on a course section, but also could positively or negatively affect your Control ability for the next course section. Caution will almost always increase your control on the next section, but your time will pay a hefty price. Charging will net you the best times, but can lead to a real lack of control. Lose enough control and you can be in danger of falling and losing even more time OR just taking yourself out of the race altogether. Really difficult sections can increase your chances of losing control as well.
It's this feature of choosing modes and the affect they have on both the section you're on AND the NEXT section you approach that really makes this game more than just a "start at the top and ski flat out all the way down". The best skiiers who start with high control factors can charge a couse a lot more than a skiier who starts with a mid-range control factor. The latter skiiers often have to take it easier early on to build up control to charge later, OR decide WHICH sections they want to charge and take chances on and which sections are wisest to hold back and bide your time on. If you don't want to make the decision for yourself, there is a solitaire chart (which I've found works VERY well) that will choose modes for you.
The combination of Charge ratings, Control Ratings (both starting and Maximum rating skiiers are rated for), and individual skills ratings make each skiier as unique as each course. Not every skiier will tackle every course the same way and some courses will just suit some skiier's styles and ratings better than others. Despite all this, each skiier's run down the slopes only takes a couple minutes as even the longest courses only have like 8 course sections to them. Most of the time will be spent doing the math of adding split times. I find that fun myself, but for those who don't, there is an Excel spreadsheet available that I found is very nice to use.
The game comes with 27 all time great men's skiiers and the men skiiers for the 1997/98 World Cup season. Also available as expansion sets are the 1997/98 women's downhill skiiers and a combined set for 1998/99 both the men and women's skiiers. The game and all expansion sets come with the complete World Cup schedule for the current seasons (plus how to 'build' the courses in those seasons) and a complete list of available courses that can be built from the race section cards for the all-time great men's skiiers.
Like I didn't have enough favorite games to play right now, I have to add this one to the highly reccommended list. It's another excellent Terry Goodchild design and is available from Owzat Games at http://www.owzatgames.com I give it four stars.
Added: Friday, February 13, 2004
Reviewer: Dave Arlington
Related web link: 'Owzat Games