Nightfall arrived a couple of days ago and I was able to try out a two-player playthrough (with me being both players) yesterday and test the new additions. Close game 35-33 with a slightly higher score than most of our previous PARKS games. Here are a few of my takeaways:
1. PARKS is still PARKS. The gameplay is smooth and easy and playing PARKS still feels like a 'walk in the park' or a hike through the woods. The addition of Nightfall hasn't changed this.
2. The updated Year cards are better. We found the Year cards from the original game to be a weak point as they only resulted in a few points and players could never obtain more than one. Nightfall allows for more Year cards to be obtained (these would be similar to bonus cards in #Wingspan ) and for additional points to be worked toward during the gameplay.
3. The new PARKS added to the game are fun and add a little spice! The added parks (or most of them) have instant actions. They are one-off actions you can only take when you visit the park. When these parks appear players have to really think about going after them because they essentially allow the player to take an extra turn.
4. The campsites are more powerful but seem balanced. I haven't tested this feature enough to know how much of a difference it makes overall but each campsite is unique in what it does and adds a nice layer of choice to the gameplay. Most of the campsite actions seem to focus on year cards, gear, and obtaining wild tokens. Taking too many of these actions would likely result in not visiting enough parks and seems inherently balanced this way.
5. Remembering to flip the campsites from year to year is easy to miss. I like the idea and it is a neat feature that the flip is added as it changes the action taken at the campsite and adds diversity to the gameplay. That being said it is more upkeep from year to year and will take getting used to. I suppose there's upkeep to camping as well :)
6. I have two boxes now. Sadly the expansion doesn't fit into the base box. I like to combine boxes when I can but don't think I will for this game. If a third expansion comes out one day I might reconsider but Nightfall is a small box.
Overall I think PARKS is better with Nightfall and I enjoy the game more with the additions. I bumped up my BGG rating on this game as a result and think it might end up seeing more plays this year. We are taking it camping this weekend and will try it out at some point. PARKS is not heavy or cut-throat competitive (I suppose it could be?) but I'm not sure I'd call it a Gateway game either. It really falls into the #Wingspan category for me of being light and easy to bring to the table over and over again.