PARKS is a celebration of the US National Parks featuring illustrious art from Fifty-Nine Parks.
In PARKS, players will take on the role of two hikers as they trek through different trails across four seasons of the year. While on the trail, these hikers will take actions and collect memories of the places your hikers visit. These memories are represented by various resource tokens like mountains and forests. Collecting these memories in sets will allow players to trade them in to visit a National Park at the end of each hike.
Each trail represents one season of the year, and each season, the trails will change and grow steadily longer. The trails, represented by tiles, get shuffled in between each season and laid out anew for the next round. Resources can be tough to come by especially when someone is at the place you’re trying to reach! Campfires allow you to share a space and time with other hikers. Canteens and Gear can also be used to improve your access to resources through the game. It’ll be tough to manage building up your engine versus spending resources on parks, but we bet you’re up to the challenge. Welcome to PARKS!
—description from the publisher
I will caveate this list with not having yet ranked #Teotihuacan: City of Gods or #Maracaibo with only two plays of the first and no plays yet of the second. I do think at least one if not both of these might break my top 10. So without further ado...
10. #Terraforming Mars - a great game and well designed with lots of expansion options (I have none but have interest in Venus and Prelude expansions) and a great solo experience. It isn't high on my families interest level but it is a fun game and I will consider doing a playthough with my son and posting on YouTube at some point.
9. #PARKS - This is such a zen game and just a pleasure to play. Becky and I play this fairly often and when we can't figure out what to play or just want something quick and easy this takes about 30-40 minutes to run through. The zen experience give this an edge over Terraforming Mars but only slighty. Decent solo experience.
8. #Everdell - while this is not a perfectly designed game the art is beautiful, the expansions add to the fun, and the interaction between tableau building, hand management, and resource/engine building is engaging. I think PARKS and Terraforming Mars are better overall games but my daughter likes this game and even the base game is quite nice with no expansions. Ok, solo experience.
7. #Viticulture: Essential Edition - While the base game lacks a little umph the Essential Edition has everything. This is a fabulous game with player counts of 4-6 and makes for a great experience around the gaming table. The theme doesn't quite grab the rest of my family and so it has not been played as much during the pandemic but it remains an excellent game I look forward to getting back to down the road. Decent solo experience.
6. #Paladins of the West Kingdom - One of my favorire solo experiences amoung game I own and a fantastically tight worker placement game. Other's may like a more interactive experience such as with #Architects of the West Kingdom (almost made my top 10) but I find myself coming back to the personal satisfacting of playing Paladins. Of the larger games I have, this likely gets the most solo plays and competes with #Wingspan.
5. #Wingspan - The ease of play, number of times Becky and I play this one together, variability of birds, and fun in creating a tableau of birds and getting an engine going along with great art make this a great game. Even though this is not my number one game on this list it might be the one game I'd keep if I had to choose one game to keep (omg that would be a torturous choice!). This game has an excellence solo experience and ranks with Paladins in that regard.
4. #Heaven & Ale - This is another game that I love and can play over and over again. I believe it has tighter play than Wingspan and most of the games in my top ten and provides a great challenge every time I play. I found a set of automa cards on BGG that someone created and was able to print those and play a couple solo games (I lost both) but find the game best with three to four players. Becky and I love this game though and most of our playthroughs are two player runs.
3. #Clans of Caledonia - I have not had this game long and don;t have a lot of plays under my belt as of yet. I love the mechanics of the game and the challenges of obtaining and completeing contracts with each unique clan. The solo experience appears to be well designed and fun as well. Becky and I have one playthrough together and she enjoyed it (she won...again) and I think would enjoy playing again. The resource management is a little bit tougher in this game making it difficult seeing my kids playing until they are a little older. Very well designed game and lots to it given the smaller box size.
2. #Scythe - I struggle between this one and #Gloomhaven for number one as they are both excellent. THere are arguments for both and at the end of the day I think Isaac designed the best game to date among modern boardgames. Scythe is my favorite game to breakout for 5-7 player counts and everytime I've hosted a Scythe game night the experience seems to be excellent for all involved. From theme, to factions, to objective cards the game checks a lot of boxes for most folks and the teach never seems to be to challenging for new players. Sans pandemic this game gets about 5-10 group plays per year. I only played the automa once when I first got got the game but it was enjoyable. I don;t have a permanent setup place for games and so it comes out a little less due to it's sprawling footprint.
1. #Gloomhaven - I questioned getting this for a long time. After "beating" the original game I feel this is the best designed game on the market. I'm not sure any other game gives quite as much bang-for-your-buck as Gloomhaven does. If I had a garage with multiple game tables I'd probably have this set up all the time to run through unique play experiences. I played the game with a friend and the variable characters and character development was so top notch. We are looking forward to Frosthaven when it arrives.
Honorable Mention: #Anachrony was number 11 on my list. Its a bigger game with a more complex theme but fantastic to play and there are modules I still haven't included in my playthroughs because the base game is just so great and doesn't need them. I will say that the #Anachrony: Exosuit Commander Pack is a great add as the exosuits are well designed and make the game more engaging and thematic.
If you read all of this, you honestly deserve a point...lol
The original plan was to get in a 3p game of #Tuscany: Essential Edition with my wife and my mom tonight (where it would be my mom's first time). Instead, there wasn't a lot of time so I learned the rules for #PARKS (I borrowed @trentellingsen's copy a while back) and introduced it to the two of them.
Here are my first impressions:
(++) Fantastic production - I don't think anyone can deny this. Highlights include:
- Nice attention to detail. After you take off the lid, you can see a little graphic on one of the exterior sides of the box that shows where each component should be placed after you're done with the game.
- Game Trayz for the resource tokens. Great organization. Just open the lid and they're good to go for playing (will include a picture for this in the comments).
- Unique/fun token shapes (water, sunshine, forest, mountain, wildlife) with a sensible selection for color that fits with the organic theme instead of being "too much".
- Comes with a main board where you place many of the cards for common use (it's like having a board for a game like #Century: Golem Edition for where you draw the golems and the crystal cards from).
- Metallic first player marker.
- What a smart design for the trail "tiles"!
- And of course, the money-making use of the fifty-nine parks print series for the PARKS cards. They're gorgeous and you can't help but observe them while playing.
(+/-) Rulebook - It's not good but it's not bad either. While the game is on the simpler side, it unexpectedly has a lot of little rules. There are several parts that had me wondering about certain cases and how the rules would apply, but the rulebook isn't super detailed to address them.
- It's similar to #Tokaido with a leap frog mechanic where players take turns advancing one of their two hikers to whichever unoccupied trail tile to pick up its resources/benefits. You're able to go to an occupied space by using up your campfire tile. This campfire tile can be refreshed and used again when one of your hikers reach the end of the trail. It's relatively simple but gives you good amount of decision making. You're typically only able to visit or reserve a PARKS card whenever one of your hikers reaches the trail end, so there's an interesting decision of weighing whether you should be advancing fast to get the card you want vs. going slowly to pick up various resourced to purchase the PARKS cards or for getting other equipment that will aid your travels/build your engine.
- It's very satisfying to continuously build onto your collection of PARKS cards, and it's all about the art. I could imagine some people going after a card not because of how valuable it is in terms of score, but just because they want it.
- To me, the whole process basically feels like #Century: Golem Edition but with numerous layers of strategy. You're considering getting PARKS (Golem) cards with more points, but you also have to think about getting the cards that will work toward your individual end game bonus. There are also gear cards, cantine cards, and others that add to your engine.
(+/-) Gameplay Length & Player Count
- Based on my first play, I'm not sure how I'd feel about 2p. Feels like it'd be too loose, but it'd be closer to my ideal length of time for a game of this weight (which is relatively on the light side). I'll need more plays to know whether it would be a game worth getting because there's a super narrow group of games that my wife would be ok with playing often/owning when it comes to lighter games.
- For what it is, I also think the game lends itself to opportunities for a slight AP (analysis paralysis) from newer players.
- Will I get this for 3p? Maybe, but it will heavily depend on how our second game goes, if it does happen. It would need to clock in at around 1 hr MAX, which hopefully happens now that everyone's familiar with the game. But honestly, any lighter game that takes 1 hour ish has my wife thinking "Viticulture would've been better" haha.
- Koreans often say that there's been a "hand of god" involved when you recognize an ingenious decision-making that could've been a difference between a hit and a failure. PARKS' art and production carries the game, and by no means do I think that's bad. It was a genius move and honestly seems like a better Tokaido with a depth of strategy involved that will satisfy a wide range of audience.
- Will I get this for 2p if my mom likes it a lot? (and she did like the game, by the way). Maybe, but probably not. When it comes to playing against my mom, I'd prefer a game like #Welcome to... where it's less competitive and leaves you gunning for your personal best rather than trying to beat the other person. If we can get the time down, I'd get this for 3p because if time becomes an issue for this game, it will obviously be worse for Viticulture.
Wow. This is a very pretty game with great art, great storage, and solid gameplay. Now, I've only played once so my first impressions should be taken with a grain of salt.
First of all this is an easy game to play. It took me 5 minutes or less to explain the rules to my wife and 8 year old son and they were able to engage it fairly well. We played fairly fast due to some events for my wife this evening so I think a normal game would take about as long as a game of Wingspan. The turn to turn decision making is relatively easy although you do have several choices.
Each season you will lay out about six basic trail tile +1 one advanced trail tile add each season (including one during the first season). Each turn you move one of your two hikers along the trail to an empty trail space or use your campfire to occupy a space another hiker is using (including your own I believe). You gain something generally (sun, water, tree, mountain, or wildlife) which are use to "visit" national parks by paying the required resources for that park.
Additionally you can buy gear and attain "canteens" that make the parks cheaper to visit or give you other bonuses during the game. You can also "take photos" at the Vista trail spot that give you a point during endgame scoring.
All in all I'd say this game is about a difficult as Century Spice Road but a bit more fun due to the art and way you manage resources. It will take a few months to know for sure but I can see this hitting the table as much as Wingspan this year. My wife liked the friendly nature of the game as there is no stealing or resources or ganking parks from people.
It's just a walk in the park...
Wow, that's a steep price to pay. For those not interested in the "spin-off" memories game:
Base game + expansion + 1 KS mini print = $71
$11 flat rate shipping in U.S.
I'll have to think a lot about this before backing it. Considering its popularity, I have a feeling the base game will be seeing reprints in the future anyway (and likely the same for the expansion).
Feels like this came out way left field. It's a spin-off of PARKS that will be part of the February 4th Kickstarter campaign for PARKS: Nightfall, the first expansion to PARKS.
At first glance, I think I'll just be going with the expansion if I do back anything.
[PARKS Expansion: Nightfall, PARKS]
[PARKS Expansion: Nightfall, PARKS]
$8,134,126 / $1,000,000
A revolutionary table that evolves over a lifetime. Innovative, yet affordable, with magnetic accessories. Crafted without compromise.
Ends in 16 daysSee Kickstarter
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