Review: Slalom – life is on the downhill

Slalom - packaging

Snow is everywhere. But when you lean out behind ticking rod, you can see a hill sloping down sharply towards finish. Wind shivers you on your face, so you better hurry downwards to safety, silence and warmth. But ticking will stop soon and so will your time to decide, when to start. Inhale. Tic. Exhale. Toc. And then there’s a beep, when you no longer have a choice. You have to throw yourself down right away. Your round begins!

It is this fast and exciting sport, which is subject to a new card game Slalom. It is heading to us from Italy and is really little known. Therefore we decided to ask for designer for a copy and write a few lines about it. Author’s name is and game was published in by with illustrations done by Danilo Paparella.

This time of year is ideal for issuing these ice-cold reviews. Indeed, a few days ago, we played ice hockey game Slapshot (review) with you. Today, in an equally simple game, we rise on steep slopes and any color other than black is no challenge for us this time. All skiers, do we have your attention now?

Slalom - game is ready

Let yourself be chilled with snow. You only have to look at the bright packaging of Slalom game and you will be cold. It has an elongated shape, but impresses mainly by its weight and its sound. Yes, you read correctly. This game has a sound to it, when packaged. From inside a clink can be heard, as if there was a cow inside. The packaging, however, contains mainly caricatures of slalom racers.

In this box, you will find snow-covered course. Main and most important pieces are piste tiles, called segments. There is 26 of them. On each of these tiles, there is one slalom turn, either to the right or to the left, passing between the two gates. Red and blue colors of flags on gates will be important, when you will be playing the game.

Most important is division of the tiles into several smaller parts, numbered from one and six, but not always in the same way. Sometimes numbers start at three, other time they end with five.

Slalom - game is ready

To these piste parts inseparably belong also cards, containing one big number in addition to red and blue colors for each particular one. And it is also in the range of one to six. Yes, these two parts will be linked together, as you’ll see in a minute. But you will still need thirty second hourglass to measure planning time, and five tokens for unexpected events.

I did not mention only two last, very unconventional, components. First one is metal skier miniature, who will accompany you while descending downhill. The second part was to blame for the aforementioned ringing across the box and it is real and genuine cow bell (!). Well, you have but a moment to think about, what it might be used for, before we proceed directly to the preparation of the match.

Players have eight skier cards of eight nationalities available. Each will choose two of them, who will he train. You can choose randomly or according to your preference, nobody tells you, how exactly. Before the deck should be properly shuffled, you must remove all racers, joker card, and mainly three cards with an hourglass. These will serve to mark timepoints on the track.

Slalom - game is ready

Now you find and separate starting and finish tiles out of the available 26 turns and put them aside. You then divide the remaining 24 by color to red and blue deck, both of which should be mixed thoroughly. Then you can begin to build a track in a way, that turns color always alternates. Once you take a piece from the blue pile, then from the red. On each tile, there is also an arrow, making clear in what direction should be tile rotated. If you draw a piece, that does not fit to the last one, you can put it away and replace it with another from the pile.

You must draw a total of 12 random pieces. Before the first of them you lay down starting line and after the last goes finish line. So your track has a total length of fourteen sections, which you have to ride through with your skier. Now it is still necessary to indicate the split times locations on the slopes. They are always on the fourth, ninth and fourteenth (last) tile of the race. You put there cards with clock, you set aside earlier. And on first of these cards, you prepare hourglass, which will measure time for active player.

During the journey, however, an important role will be on cards, which gets always only racer himself. Other players are just watchers for now. He gets six cards from randomly shuffled deck. But he cannot look at them yet. Instead, he puts a rider on the starting piece and prepares for the descent. This involves also cow bell and one joker, laying next to piste.

Slalom - game in progress

At the moment, when you are ready, one of your opponents turns and watches hourglass. At that moment, the competitor may look at their cards and assign all of them during time limit to tiles of current segment. In the first part of the race, there are four cards to assign, then five in second and again five in the last section.

And what are the rules, which you must follow during the placement? The piece of your interest are the numbers in a certain range written on each tile. They have three colors. Blue number is the golden mean for you. If you play card with number corresponding to blue one on the tile, your skier is traveling at a reasonable speed through this section, but its nothing exceptional.

Black numbers, which are usually the most ones on tiles, mean slowing down. You do not have to think why. You had some technical issues in this part of the race and it has to be seen in your time. It is important to remember that every black numbers means lower numbers. On each piece, there is also at least one orange number (in the rules incorrectly listed as red). Its appearances means, that you are driving on the edge and really accelerate in comparison to standard time. But you have to put card with this number on the tile, to reach that kind of speed.

Slalom - game is ready

Once you have put your cards to all parts of the track, leg continues with evaluation of this parto of the track. In case you were unable to place all cards within the time limit, you get a penalty. It is connected with time measurement, which we will describe in detail right away.

Each card, with which you have hit blue numbers, can be skipped over. Your time does not change there. You will not have to add or subtract anything. Important are black and orange numbers, which mean, you take tokens with a plus or minus number specified in hundredths of a second. For each space on the tile with an orange color, you have passed with your played card, you get a speed token -0.05 seconds. And vice versa, if you have used a card from black spectrum, then you are getting slower and take +0.05 seconds token.

You continue in that manner with the other two sections. At the beginning of each of them, you keep your remaining cards and draw up to five in total. Hourglass will always move to the next section with you and they will measure your limit for playing cards.

Slalom - game in progress

The game, however, contains also events, which can occur during the slalom. These are put on the track by your rivals before you throw yourself from the hill. Each of the opponents can one randomly chosen token. They affect a player and it can speed him up or make him slow down.

Moreover, once in the whole slalom round, you can use a joker in place of one of the three numbers written on it. And then there’s cow bell, which actually has no other function, than to ring it once in a round. They can decide – either player gets a new card from the deck, or he can safely pass this tile over blue number.

At the end of the slalom, player adds up all the plus and minus tokens, he has won on the track. Total sum makes his final time, which will have to be beaten by other players. But even player himself has one another competitor to overcome current leading time. Then the game continues with a second round on a different track. The winner is the player with quickest time sum at the end. Or you can play as a team with both your skiers.

Slalom - cards

Slalom is a simple card game, where you have to quickly and effectively plan ahead, but at the same time have a little bit of luck. Just such combination would be ideal, but that random factor is maybe a little too much for just one game. Drawing cards for three times during one downhill, you are able to keep some useful for the finish.

Author tried to partially compensate for this disadvantage by including joker and cow bell, but unfortunately the result is still dependent not so much on planning time player, but more on cards, he receives at the beginning. Some of it will remain in his hand until the end and significantly limit his choice.

At the same time, the very idea of playing cards and rewarding time by the distance from a middle number is good. You can plan ahead (if you have sand time available) and keep track of which cards will follow. So you would sometimes have to choose path of lesser evil, but it is not particularly easy and it still may not be enough for you to be victorious.

Slalom - cards

Processing is pretty. Game contains nice cartoon riders. But actual edition contains small bugs – the first one is a reference to color red in rules, which are actually orange-brown. Second is similarity among black-blue on the cards.

Slalom remains halfway between a good idea and perfect final design. In the memories of players, it becomes „the game with a cow bell „, but will not be played over and over again. As a simple relaxing fun, yes lets do it, but this purpose serve already many other games. So its a game for fans of downhill skiing in the first place.

DesignerMassimo Pesce
ArtistDanilo Paparelli
Year Published2010
# of Players1 - 4
Playing Time45
Mfg Suggested Ages14 and up
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(1 voters)
CategoryRacing, Sports
MechanicHand Management, Modular Board
FamilySports: Winter Sports
Primary NameSlalom

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: Slalom – life is on the downhill
Final word
Slalom is a racing downhill game, which introduces skiing on your desk. And you even do not have to tilt your table for it. You will be satisfied with some cardboard tiles, which make up a whole racing course. And then, when your turn comes, you have to use cards to ride as fast as you can. The higher the number the better, but each section varies in difficulty on your technique. And then you add up your time bonuses in finish. Unfortunately luck plays a great part while skiing and your success depends on cards, you get into your hand. And you often get bad ones. For large part of the time will you just watch your opponents playing without any action for you. And it cannot be saved even by the cow bell included. But fans of downhill skiing will maybe forgive it all..
Reader Rating0 Votes
random track assembly
speed is detemined not only by numbers of played cards
metal skier miniature
time pressure
you can plan ahead
event. tokens
each player has two racers
cow bell is used only to anounce action
luck is a great factor
player can influence his ride only partially
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