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.
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.
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.