Game Review: Parks by Henry Audubon (Keymaster Games)
Pack your camping gear, grab your camera and get ready to trek through some of the most scenic landscapes the United States has to offer — without leaving your home!
In Parks, up to 5 players each take on the roles of two hikers visiting different trails in U.S. national parks. Isolating at home alone and no one to play with? That’s okay! Parks can be played in Solo Mode.
I’d heard a lot of positive feedback about Parks, and the look of the game called to me every time I saw it on the store shelf so I decided to pick up a copy. I am pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it is.
How it plays
Parks is played across four seasons. Players travel the country to see trail sites, observe and take photos of wildlife, and visit national parks to earn points. Hikers can only move in one direction on the board — from start to finish — collecting nature tokens for cashing in to visit a park. Players must be very strategic when deciding which of their two hikers to move and to which location on the board in order to maximize picking up token and bonus points.
One of the aspects I especially enjoy with Parks is the changing board. The spaces on the game board are made from a set of Trail Site cards and Park cards. This allows for a unique game experience as the board setup is different each time you sit down to play. With each new season, the board is reset and expanded as additional Trail Site cards are added to the board. Gear cards give players small power-ups that offer both instant rewards and persistent effects throughout the game. Combine all these game elements and you have a nice, dynamic experience that will keep the game fresh even after many plays.
Also, player strategy changes with the size of the play group. A two-player game, for instance, plays different from a four-player game. This also keeps the game fresh as you sit down with more or fewer players.
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The setup for Parks is simple and only takes a few minutes. This lightweight game is easy to teach so new players can get up and running quickly making Parks an easy addition to your next game night. However, its simplicity disguises the depth to the game. Having two hikers to control is a fun mechanism. You’ll often find yourself thinking two and sometimes three moves ahead as you map out the path you want your hiker to take. That is until you find your plans fall apart as other hikers steal your spot before your turn comes around again!
Games can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour so it’s a great choice to play after dinner or if you want to pair with a longer game on a weekend afternoon. It’s suitable for players as young as 9 which this makes for a good game for families.
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Everything about Parks is gorgeous from the high quality board and attractive game pieces to the illustrations on the box to the instructions booklet. The game art is adapted from the Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series.
The first expansion to Parks, Nightfall, includes enhanced park cards and a new feature: camping.
See for yourself
Keymaster Games has a cute video explainer showing just how lovely the game looks on a table.