I unabashedly say this WILL make it to my personal Top 5, for 2019.
Publisher: Keymaster Games
Designer: Henry Audobon
Artist: Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series
Game Type: Worker Placement
Game Type: Area Semi-Control
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Age Range: 9+
Expected Playtime: 40-60 Mins
Number of Players: 1-5
Game Type: Reverse Race
Theme and What is it?
I have apparently become Kickstarter blind. Parks did VERY well during their funding, and I never saw it. I blame all the stuff that is out there currently, and a lot of it very cool.
In PARKS, you are hiking our great national park system. While hiking you will see beauty, and be able to stop and smell the roses. You are ultimately going to get points for the more parks you visit and the more photos you take.
It reminds me of seeing people at National parks, and their goal is to go to every national park. They always joke they do not know where their RV will be parked at Biscayne National Park (95% water). Yet, they still have plans to go to all 59. The theme, as a camper, is one of my favorite things about this game.
This is a bit of a conundrum. I did not originally know how to classify this game. It has borrowed mechanics, almost all games do, from other games.
However, how it has stitched those mechanics together, feels so unique while playing. You will be moving your meeple-hiker left to right along the trail. You can go as far, or as little as you want. Once you are on a location, no one else can go there either, like a traditional worker placement. However, they can use their campfire to share the location with you.
This thematically is like going to a park, and asking someone to share the location, and offering them a beer and steak for doing so. Parks can get crowded. (Not all parks allow this.)
This game is pretty. The box even feels pretty. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I got this game. The quality is very nice, and I wanted to see it, but I had not heard of it, so I had no frame of reference for what I would be playing.
Sadly for me, this was the low-point of my experience. And, little did I know…
Game Build Quality
GameTrayz have become GameTrazy. That was cool crazy for the people that do not speak Josh (You should, it is a thing).
This company helmed by Noah Adelman started with Stonemaier Games, producing simple trays for Scythe (if i remember correctly). It has expanded into a company that does some of the coolest things out there for games currently.
Combine that with a beautiful board, a beautiful mat (if you upgrade), and some great cards, and you will have found hiking and board gaming bliss. Without hesitation or reservation, I give the game a 10 for quality.
This game is beautiful. Each thing you do, adds to the overall aesthetic. Here, the art was not originally designed for a board game, but rather was taken from a series of art, and added into our beloved board game world.
There were a slight few hiccups, that seemed strange from an graphic design point of view, like the canteen gear card that fills for free at the ocean.
This however, was so slight, that it is more idiosyncratic, than a problem. I really LOVE this game on the table.
We played with a group of four.
Each person at the table, agonized over moving left to right, EVERY SINGLE TURN. The fun factor is in that agonizing decision making. Unlike some games where you feel you are penalized for doing the wrong thing, each action here, just felt like it was GREAT, and became hard to make the choice over all the great choices.
We even helped each other, almost the entire game. That help also did not overly feel like it was too self-serving.
Age Range & Weight
This game states that 9+ is the ideal range of age.
I agree with this statement, and it could even be a bit younger. In our group, we helped each other the entire game, and that would easily translate to a younger audience.
For that reason, I think Keymaster missed the mark here. I think the audience is actually wider than they give credit for, perhaps their gaming groups are just meaner.
I unabashedly say this WILL make it to my personal Top 5, for 2019. If it doesn’t, there will have been an awesome end to 2019, that no one could have expected.
Right now, this was my FAVORITE gaming experience in 2019. There are other games I also put in the top five, that I need to get played more. It is possible with the right group, one could be better as an experience than this.
Currently however, that is just not the case. This will make it to my top shelf, and has dethroned something else that at one point I thought was very cool.
I’m very curious what other people think of this game after playing. Please comment below if you do play, I Would LOVE to know what you think!
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