Cover Art - Parks
Hike along a different trail every season, take in the sights, and experience the beauty of our parks in a new way. Get game night on the calendar, hit the trails, and make lasting memories... Happy hiking!
BGG Link
Designer(s) Henry Audubon
Publisher Keymaster Games
Player Count 1 - 5
Estimated Playtime 60 min

Game Review

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Journal Entries

August 1st, 2022

An early gaming night last week led to me playing Parks for the first time. I had heard about the game when it first came out, mainly from the art and donations side. Parks is a celebration of US National Parks, and the art is done by Fifty-Nine Parks. Fifty-Nine Parks has a large series of prints from various artists, each with a unique style. A portion of the print sales goes to the US National Parks Service, and the game Parks is no different.

Players control a pair of hikers each and visit different spots along a trail. As the year goes on and seasons change, the trails get longer and new areas become available. Visiting different locations lets you collect different resources, such as water and sunshine. At the end of the trail, you can exchange these resources for Park cards, the primary scoring mechanic.

20220801 - Parks - Travelling the trail is pretty
Travelling the trail is pretty but boils down to ‘pick a spot to collect resources’

There are other actions you can take rather than straight resource collection. You can take photos for points or buy equipment to help your future hikes. Reserving Parks is a strong move, as you can deny an opponent points or save up for it yourself next season.

This turns Parks into an area management puzzle. Each season, you only get one chance to share a location with another hiker, denoted by a campfire. You also can’t hike backwards – you travel even onwards. This is where the two hikers come into play – do you dash one hiker ahead, and let the other continue? Parks has a lot of elements to balance, but it doesn’t overwhelm you either.

20220801 - Parks - Building your scoring engine
About to cash in a park. You can see my equipment and secret end-game scoring.

I have glossed over a few rules, and if offered a chance to play again I would play. At some point, I will even show Rabbit and Alpal how to play to get their thoughts on Parks. For me, and after only one game, if given the choice I would pick Century Golem to play instead.

Parks isn’t a bad game in any way. It was a fun game, and catching up with Harls and Kaitlin was a great time. Century Spice Road/Golem isn’t exactly the same game as Parks, so it’s an unfair comparison in some ways. Century feels faster, as you don’t have as many elements to consider each game.

In many ways, I prefer Parks four season game length rather than the race ‘first to finish x ends game’ though. It’s not quite enough to elevate Parks for me, unfortunately. But as I mentioned, I will play Parks again if offered and would like to teach some others. All on Board Game Arena though – I won’t be rushing to buy a copy.

January 23rd, 2023

Last year, some friends introduced me to a game called Parks and I thought it would be something thatAlpal and Rabbit would enjoy. I wasn’t sure which of two camps (puns!) it would fall into. Would it be a longer but fun game like Isle of Cats, or an unnecessarily long game that would other games like Century Spice Road would be preferred?

20230123 - Parks - Still a pretty journey
Parks is a pretty game, but has a lot of moving parts

Luckily, Parks fell into the first category. Rabbit especially took to it, which was nice to see. The part of Parks that I thought would appeal to them is that you essentially play your own game together. You can try to collect resources that others might need or buy gear that someone else has their eye on. Going out of your way to do this will more often than not ruin your score. So Parks doesn’t really cater to “take that” players unless everyone is playing that way and that’s the game you want to play.

20230123 - Parks - Gear is important to get the most of future turns
Gear is important to help you get the most out of future hikes

I’m glad I got to play Parks with Alpal and Rabbit, but I don’t think they’ll be asking to play it again anytime soon. While Parks was nice to play, it will probably end up on our “We can’t play Isle of Cats and 7 Wonders Architects again right now” list.