My hubby is on tour a handful of months throughout the year and travels across the States. Consistently packed for the downtime between shows is his, Passport to Your National Parks. An avid backpacker in his younger years, he is ecstatic to be collecting the Regional Stamps once more. Me, formerly a LA girl, preferred roaming the beaches of Santa Monica and the mountains of Mammoth. While the world is on hold, our excursions to wondrous locations now are from our game shelves. We have traveled to Tuscany, Dungeons, Mars, and most recently, we have sojourned to the National Parks.
Parks, by Keymaster Games, tasks you in the role of two hikers as they trek across impressive trails across the seasons. While trekking, you collect memories, photos, and encounter other hikers. The collected memories (tokens) can be exchanged to visit a National Park. Collecting these National Park cards accrue points, taking photos, or being the first Hiker, each season offers additional points. You can acquire Canteens and Gear to boost your resources. The Canteens can be filled with fresh water (water you have collected on the turn) and then gain token or advantage. The main objective sounds simple, but warning, this is not a leisurely hike, there is an engaging strategy and some severe sabotage in the race to the end of the season. The Hikers take turns moving their Hiker from site to site. Once on a site, you accrue the token or take action. Two Hikers cannot occupy the same place unless they use their Campfire to share the location. Campfires can be used once per season, however, when one of the Hikers reaching the Trails End, the Campfire is refreshed and can be used again. The ends when the last Hiker passes the Trails End in the Fourth Season and captures a photo opportunity. The National Park points, Photos and personal Year Card goals are totaled, they Hiker with the highest points is the winner.
The good, the bad, and the beautiful. There is much to keep track of while racing to the Trails end. Your Year Goal, the advantages of the Gear cards, and the special effects of the Canteen both good and bad. The added layers maintain the engagement, and the bad is when you realize that after your turn has passed, you neglected to use an ability—curses under her breath. The beautiful surroundings on every component of this resolutely thought out game.
Mechanics That Worked ~ For Us
Each season starts with a new weather pattern that beginning on the second trail site that offers a bonus Water or Sun when you are the first to arrive at the location. Planning early to grab the site with additional water to fill the Canteens is advantageous.
Utilizing the Personal Year goal as the foremost agenda while accruing National Parks. Those extra few points have invariably brought the player squeak past for the win.
When the (Copy Action) comes in early in the game, save water so action can be taken) is essential. Being able to pick an activity to play again is a game-changer towards the last few rounds.
When we play, there are usually two players. House Rule, at the Trails Ends in the clean phase, we wipe the Gear cards and draw new cards to broaden the selection.
Search early for multiple Canteen cards. Favorites are the Trade 2 for 2 resources and Trade one resource for Wildlife Token.
Towards the end of the game, we are fighting over the Camera. (Every point makes a difference)
One of us is a slooow Hiker collecting at each site, and the other is racing to the Trails End to ensure she the first Hiker next season. Someone gets angry when she does that.
Bits and Bobs
48 unique illustrations featuring 45 US National Parks from over 35 artists.
102 Wood resource tokens include 12 unique wildlife tokens representing some of the most iconic animals that can be seen in the National Parks today.
1 box organizer and 2 removable resource trays with lids to make table storage and clean up easy – designed by Game Trayz. (LOVE THEM)
15 unique chipboard photo tokens and 1 camera token reflecting significant moments in your hikers’ journey.
Hike the trail solo or with up to 4 of your friends in under 60 mins.
Gamer Board, First Hiker Marker and Camera
We love the module changes each time we play. The Trail Board begins with five basic sites and added each year is a random new Site to the Trail, which lends a new game plan each time it’s on the table.
Every bit of this game is charming from the cover art to wooden Hikers and tokens. Parks has partnered with The Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series that is a celebration of our National Parks. The series comes from an eclectic mix of artists and the unique beauty of each park. Their goal is to get poster fans into the parks and parks fans into posters. The full series is currently being archived by The Library of Congress.
Parks reminds us that are so many cool places out there to visit when the time allows.
*We are so ready for the expansion which was successfully funded on Kickstarter. The link below takes to their page where you back the project and order the game and expansion.
Join the Game!
1% of every purchase donated to The National Park Service
Designer: Henry Audubon
Artists: Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series
Publishers: Keymaster Games
Release Date: 2019
Player Count: 1 – 5
Time: 40 – 60 minutes
Mechanism(s): Point to Point Movement, Set Collection, Worker Placement