SNAP Preview – Maul Peak
On episode 282 of The Family Gamers Podcast, we talked about some of our favorite two player battle games. On the list was a game that I absolutely love, Skulk Hollow.
But this is a preview – and Skulk Hollow has been out for a while. We’ve even already reviewed it. This preview is for something different. This is a SNAP preview for Maul Peak, the standalone sequel to Skulk Hollow.
Maul Peak is a two player asymmetric battle game from Keith Matejka, Eduardo Baraf, and Dustin Foust. We mentioned it’s the sequel to Skulk Hollow, but Maul Peak can also be combined with Skulk Hollow for new battles or team games with up to four players.
It’s appropriate for players ages 12 and up, and takes an average of 40 minutes to play.
We love this art. It’s the same basic style as Skulk Hollow, but the Grizzar tribe feels slightly more “grown up” than the Foxen clan of Skulk Hollow. The guardians are still done in a cartoon style, so they’re not scary. We also really love the giant meeples used to represent each one.
The card art remains clear and crisp while also expressing just a little bit of humor.
And I love the winter theming. Snow on everything and the white guardian (boards) makes the colored items really pop.
So, how do we play?
Decide who will play as the Grizzar and who will control the guardian. (Try not to fight about that – the fight comes later!) The guardian player chooses their guardian, and the Grizzar player chooses a winter beast to help their tribe.
The guardian goes first, starting in the LAIR space on the main board. The Grizzar get to start with just the Druid and their chosen winter beast on the space farthest away (called the KEEP). On each player’s turn, they play a limited number of cards from their hand to do actions such as moving, attacking, using magic, and healing.
The Grizzar also have the option to use “rage” on their turn, either to use their winter beast’s special ability or to pay the cost of summoning another tribe member from the Den. Using rage doesn’t count towards their action limit so it can be very handy.
How to Win
The various guardians have different goals that fit their play styles:
Saboso wants to freeze enemy units and wins when it has trapped 4 units in the cell in their chest.
Veblyn wants to web up enemy units and drag them back to its LAIR – so it wins if 3 hero units are in the LAIR space.
Quagra wants to confuse enemy units; it wins if it can get all 8 of its “confusion” cards into the hero’s discard pile and deck.
Trovak & Gnarl, the most challenging guardian pair – they cooperate, in part by lending each other power. They win if they’ve spent power cubes 9 times.
…but of course this is just a straight up fight, so any of the guardians can also win by eliminating all the Grizzar from the board.
The Grizzar, meanwhile, will be hopping up onto the guardian to attack it directly with melee cards or at a distance with magic. We loved this about Skulk Hollow and it remains just super cool. You have that main board with the LAIR and the KEEP, but Grizzar get to jump onto a separate board that represents the guardian.
Every wound space corresponds to specific Guardian abilities, so the Grizzar player can attack to disable the most annoying aspects of a guardian – and this might change depending on the player and their habits!
The Grizzar win by filling all the wound spaces on the guardian board.
Like we said, we are huge fans of Skulk Hollow. It’s a great two player game that we reviewed in 2020 – see the link below.
We expected more of the same from Maul Peak – huge guardians versus a small but plucky band defending their home. Once we learned the abilities of the guardians and Grizzar, games sometimes ran a lot longer than the stated 40 minutes, because it’s incredibly balanced. It’s a true back and forth fight, with opportunities to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. (Or steal defeat from the jaws of victory.)
We were excited to see that you can also combine Maul Peak with Skulk Hollow for a massive 4 player game – or mix it up by trying out a guardian’s strategy versus the hero clan from the other game.
Maul Peak feels just a little bit more difficult than Skulk Hollow. Perhaps this is because the Grizzar clan is fewer in number, and when they die, they’re removed from the game entirely. Perhaps it’s because more of the Maul Peak guardians match the Grizzar for number of actions in a turn.
But the new guardians bring new and interesting abilities to the table, and getting to choose which Grizzar heroes to bring out leads to more interesting strategies than with the Foxen. You definitely have more choice and agency when playing as the Grizzar.
One thing I was really surprised by was the way the four player battle mode worked. I was nervous that there might be too much going on, and there was a lot on the board, and it would turn into a slog. But it wasn’t. The win conditions have very slight differences depending on which guardians are being used, but the game actually flowed incredibly well. We played with three players, so one of our players controlled both guardians, but everyone was engaged because it was a team fight on the Foxen, Grizzar side anyway. (When I was playing, you were watching and when you were playing I was watching.) It was really fun, and an epic game.
Skulk Hollow was rated 8+ and Maul Peak is listed as 12+. I think the true difficulty is somewhere in between. There’s still some reading required, and kids need to be able to look a little bit ahead to figure out what their opponent is likely to do next.
But we think it’s great.
If you enjoyed Skulk Hollow, you’ll like Maul Peak too (Family Gamers guaranteed!). If you’re looking to buy one of them for the first time, Skulk Hollow is a tiny bit easier to learn and you can get it right now.
Make sure to check out Maul Peak on Kickstarter starting Tuesday, April 5th.
The Family Gamers received a pre-production copy of Maul Peak from Pencil First Games for this preview.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?