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Insider Look - Mountains Out Of Molehills

There is, perhaps, no finer tradition in board gaming than mining, where gems, ore, and even the occasional balrog make their appearance on your tabletop. Mountains Out Of Molehills from The Op continues this lineage by putting you and up to three of your friends in the roles of blind rodents, digging to see who can literally come out on top. Or, rather, bottom. You’ll see... (but they won’t... Get it? That’s a sight joke. Because moles.)


The first thing you’ll notice as Mountains out of Molehills meets your table is that the stunning three-dimensional board is built out of the box. The bottom of the game box has four support pieces coming out of the corners, which hold up the aboveground board. While your moles move and scrounge below, the dirt they disturb grows ever higher up above, threatening to topple at any moment. Each player begins their path on a corner of the board, with a single molehill piece above them. The individual mole character pieces are depicted by elegant, acrylic standees with different colored bases. 

Over the six rounds of the game, your goal will be to control as many “mountains” as possible by having your mole’s color at the base of the molehill. As the game goes on and your moles become more and more adept at their job, the maximum height of the mountains will increase, and so will your score. To begin each round, lay out 5 cards for each player within everyone’s reach. In turn order, each mole will draft a single card until everyone has four in their hand. Once that’s done, stack your four cards in the order you wish your mole to take their direction, face-down, before placing your King of the Hill token on top to let everyone know that you’re done. Then, again in turn order, each mole will resolve their movement cards one at a time. As the saying goes (somewhat), the best laid plans of moles and men don’t always work out, so you may find yourself bumping into other players, rocks, or even the edge of the board. 


As you move your mole into a new space, place a molehill of your color on the bottom of that space on the aboveground board, putting any existing molehills on top of it. If this causes the height of the mountain to exceed the maximum for that round, it will “topple”! The mole who caused the topple will choose a non-diagonal direction and spread out the individual molehills that way. Leaving the bottom of the molehill in place, take the second-highest molehill and place it on *top* of the next space over. Then take the next molehill up from the bottom and place it on the next space over, and so on, until the mountain is out of pieces or until you reach the edge of the board. If this causes another mountain to exceed the height, another topple happens, and another, and another—just be sure to resolve each one individually and completely before moving on to the next.

Once all the movement cards of the individual moles have been resolved, you’ll score the round. Each mountain is worth points equal to the number of molehills in it, and the points are awarded to the player whose molehill is at the bottom. If there’s another round to play, leave all molehills exactly where they are, and the player with the most molehills on the *top* of the mountains gets to choose which King of the Hill token they want, earning the player order printed on it for the upcoming round. Then, deal out five new movement cards per mole to begin again. After the sixth round, add all the rounds’ scores together, and crown a new Mole Monarch!

Mountains Out Of Molehills is for 2-4 players, ages 9 and up, and is available for $39.99 from your local game store or The Op’s online shop! The game takes on the familiar mechanics of action programming, table drafting, and king of the hill scoring and adds an eye-catching table presence as well as adorable artwork. With a speedy 45-minute play time, it’s perfect for your next family game night.


Nicholas Leeman has been writing about and reviewing board games since 2017, and currently reviews games for the YouTube channel GLHF Boardgames. He makes his home in Minneapolis, MN

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