Apart from the dull-ish box cover art, the contents of Mush are outstanding, and comprise game boards, individual play (sled) boards, playing pieces, markers and 24 wooden die of three specific designs. This is top quality stuff, and the game represents fair value heft-wise.
The race track is created by laying the game boards end to end. Although five are included (they are semi-geomorphic), it is suggested that three are used for the first session of the game. Depending on the number of players, each crew of dogs will have endured a specific type of training, one of either warm, moderate or cold weather. A chart within the rule book outlines the options open. The initiative player, established on the opening turn by a roll of a D6 (subsequently clockwise), determines the weather for the round. Chips are then played secretly to effect the play order. Those who placed action chips go before those didn't, and the intitiative player plays in the middle of those two groups. Confused? You will be for the first couple of moves, but it all comes out in the wash. As the action chips are quickly depleted, their frugal use at this stage is vital.
Movement is prompted by the special ``dog dice''. Each set features a number of dog icons. The colour used -- green, red or blue -- is dependent upon your training and the current weather. If they ``match'', ie warm with warm, then the beneficial green dice are utilised. Adjacent weathers allows use of the red set, whilst a husky team setting off with little experience of the current conditions will be lumbered with the miserable blue combination. In the early stages of the race, with the dogs still frisky, eight dice may be used. For each ``dog'' rolled, a player may move his sled marker one space. When a turn is completed, a marker is placed on one of the dog pictures on the sled board. This aide-de-memoire records the number of dice which may be used each turn, as well as providing other pertinent information. As an alternative to moving, a player may rest. This option is particularly beneficial in the various village locations, where specific advantages are available. If you opt for a kip in the middle of nowhere, one dog marker may be removed or a couple of action chips drawn.
The all-important action chips, replenished by resting (as above), are crucial in hijacking the other dog crews. They may be used to place or move a blocking avalanche marker, or force a player to re-roll the dice or reduce the number available. Chips may also be used to modify a D6 roll when negotiating rough terrain.
Mush provides countless possibilities during each game turn, and the interplay negates thumb-twiddling. Even those stuck in the wilderness, and looking in a seemingly hopeless position, can use the ``Press'' bonus and risk the loss of a dog picture against the chance of a movement reward (either one or two spaces). In short, a lot goes on without any tedious delay, although the re-roll rule did invoke some grumbling.
Mush scores brownie points for being very ``game-orientated''. The mechanics feel familiar, and as a whole incur considerable player involvement. You will need to ``think'' your way around the course. Speculative purchasers looking for a ``roll and move'' junket will scratch their heads in confusion.