Back in 7th grade I was really into skateboarding. That is to say, I loved perusing the amazing artwork on the bottom of the decks, reminiscent of my days flipping Tech Decks on my fingertips. I was terrible at the actual sport. But now I get a second chance at becoming a true Pro Sk8r with the Skate Summer board game by Pandasaurus Games!
Designed by Randy Reiman and featuring incredible art by Pape Ink, Skate Summer weaves us through the city streets where the scenery begs us to perform sick flips and sweet tricks. If you’ve ever sunk your heart into the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series, you’ll fit right in at Pelican Park.
I was able to get a sneak peek of Skate Summer on Tabletopia ahead of the Kickstarter Launch on January 18th and had a blast! It’s like riding a bike! But it’s a skateboard.
At its core, Skate Summer is a push-your-luck game with elements of set collection and area movement. Each player gets their own player (skate)board, simultaneously playing trick cards to build those tasty combos. Every time you play a trick your balance shifts, so you need to be careful that you don’t over-exert yourself! After each trick, an increasing number of dice are rolled which affect everyone’s balance accordingly. Will you land your trick or try another and risk bailing out?
Once everyone has skinned their knee or successfully landed, players use the cards they laid to skate around the map. You’ll be zooming off ramps, skimming ledges, and riding rails on your way to collecting the coveted S-K-A-T-E-R letters. There’s also set collection, as you can earn flaming hot wheels from your gnarly tricks and cash those in for spray paint cans, boxes, and bells.
So what makes Skate Summer standout in the middle of a cold Wisconsin winter?
If you’ve read any of my previous board game reviews, you know that the mechanical connection to theme is my top billing requirement for games. What I’m doing in the game should make sense as I’m shuffling cardboard and tokens around the table. Skate Summer successfully taps into skate culture and makes you feel like you’re cruising along on a skateboard.
The number one way this is accomplished is through the initial phase of slamming trick cards. As you play tricks, your balance shifts to the right and the left, and you feel the threat of gravity pulling you down. There were so many times in our game where the ‘fate dice’ wiped everyone out thanks to a lightning-bolt-filled roll. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to stay stable, you’re going to hit a rock or a rough part of the rail and bail out!
If you can manage to keep your balance and play your fourth card on one side, you earn a Special trick card! These give you way more versatility with your balancing, grant extra points, and can be spent to get some BIG AIR!
I love the BIG AIR ramp! It allows you to zoom from the outside edge of the board, soar into the air in the middle of the board, and use that burst of speed to quickly traverse the concrete jungle. Even if you only manage to get mediocre air or average air, the thrill of the trick is alive and well.
And then when you’re racing around the board, it truly feels like you’re rushing to scoop up the goods before the other skaters can get to them. I found myself focusing on two of the three items (boxes and paint cans) to try and at least be in the hunt for majority on those. Collecting the letters also gives very significant bonuses that help you in future rounds, as well as giving you points at the end of the game.
I also appreciate how everything is an extension of the player board. Your S-K-A-T-E-R letters are on top, easily flipped as you collect them. The upgrades that you get are presented in removable tokens that cover up parts of your board, like extending your balance or reducing the number of cards needed to earn a Special trick. You also earn upgrades that adjust the points that your tricks are worth, so you see tangible progress on how you’re improving as a skater!
Get ready to blast some Avril Lavigne on Tuesday, January 18th when Skate Summer goes LIVE on Kickstarter! You can sign up to be notified of the Kickstarter Launch to ensure you don’t miss a minute of Eggplants, Meatloaf, and 360 Inverted McTwists! There will also be a playable version out on Tabletopia if you want to put on the training trucks first.
I’ll see you in Pelican Park!