Parks is beautiful game that I fell in love with immediately. Everything about the game is quality, the artwork is gorgeous and tokens are adorable. The game looks great on the table. I love hiking and this theme really shines through. The parks artwork gives you a feel for each park and got me excited for hiking and camping. With the nightfall expansion I think there is a lot of replay value. The base game has a lot of different parks, canteens and gear to keep the game fresh but when you add Nightfall you gain more cards plus the camping element so I would recommend adding that to the game. There is some strategy to how you decide to hike, if its worth getting gear and canteens over visiting parks. It’s really about finding that balance. You do have a decent amount of choice in the game.
One thing I don’t like is that the hiking trail part doesn’t fit on the game board. There is a mat you can buy for the game that is larger and fits everything from the base game. There are also 2 expansions available but I am only going over the base game.
Designed by Henry Audubon and published by Keymaster Games. Parks is a 1 to 5 player game for ages 10 and up. The game takes about an hour to play.
- 1 Tri-fold board
- 2 Token trays
- 48 Park cards
- 10 Season cards
- 12 Year cards
- 36 Gear cards
- 15 Canteen cards
- 9 Solo cards
- 10 Trail Sites
- 1 Trailhead
- 1 Trail End
- 10 Hikers
- 5 Campfires
- 1 Camera
- 1 First Hiker Marker
- 16 Forest tokens
- 16 Mountain tokens
- 30 Sunshine tokens
- 30 Water tokens
- 12 Wildlife tokens
- 28 Photos
Each player represents two hikers who are travelling through National Parks over one year. The game is played in 4 seasons and the hike length grows longer throughout the game. Throughout the hike players will take actions. Actions include filling their canteen, taking photos and collecting tokens. Once you hit the end of the trail you can spend tokens to reserve parks, collect gear or visit parks. The player with with the most points at the end wins.
Place the board on the table with the token trays accessible to all players.
Shuffle the parks card and place face down on the far right of the board, turn over the top 3 into the slots on the board.
Shuffle the gear deck and place it face down on the bottom right of the board. Turn over the top 3 into the gear spots.
Shuffle the canteen card deck and deal one canteen to each player. Place the remaining cards on the top left of the board.
Shuffle then deal two year cards to each player. Players will choose one to use as a personal bonus at the end of the game. Return the deck and unused cards back to the box.
Shuffle the Seasons deck and place it on the board. turn over the top card, this will be the first season.
Set up the trail by placing the trailhead tile under the board on the far left. Take the 5 basic site tiles, and if there are 4 to 5 players, the 4+ tile. Add one random tile to the basic tiles and that will make up your trail deck. Place the remaining advance tiles facedown to the left of the trail.
Shuffle the trail deck you created and place one by one to the right of the trail head, then place the trail end tile. Make sure the trail end is not on the solo side.
Each player gets two hikers of the same colour and a campfire. The two hikers go on the trailhead and the campfire is placed on the lit side in front of the player. The player who hiked the most recently will get the first hiker marker and the camera will go to the player on their right.
STARTING THE SEASON
The game is played over four seasons. Season cards will change the gameplay each round and the season ends when all hikers have reached the end of the trail. Each season card will have a condition listed for the round and in the bottom corner a weather pattern for the trail. The weather pattern starts on the 2nd trail site and the tokens from the weather pattern will be placed on the trail, one per site from left to right repeating until the end of the trail.
STARTING THE HIKE
The player with the first hiker marker starts the beginning of the season. The player will select one of the hikers to move to a site on the trail. They must keep in mind that they cannot move backwards. One the spot they chose they will take any weather token and the action on the card and then next player will go.
A couple things to note, you must be able to take the action of the site to be able to visit it. So if you need a token and you don’t have one you will have to skip that spot. Players can have a max of 12 tokens at a time. Players cannot go to the same trail spot that someone else is on unless they use their campfire. Turn over the campfire if you use this action and once one of your hikers makes it to the end of trail you can relight the campfire. Wildlife tokens are wild and can be used in place of any other resource.
Everyone starts the game with one canteen but you can gain more on one of the trail sites. When you gain a water token, instead of adding to your supply you can use it to the fill the canteen and gain what’s on the card. Once the canteen is filled, it stays filled until the end of the season. At the end of the season the water token returns to the game supply.
Taking photos is a great way to gain points. Each photo is worth 1 point. When you land on the trail site for photos you can pay 2 tokens to take a photo. Once you have taken the photo you will also be given the camera. If you have the camera when you land on the photo tile it will cost only one token to take a photo. The camera will move around to other players throughout the game.
END OF TRAIL
Once you’ve reached the end of the trail, your campfire can relight and you have three options.
RESERVE A PARK – If you place your hiker here you can take one of the 3 available park cards. Place the card horizontally near you. This card hasn’t been visited yet so you won’t get points at the end of the game. It does give you the opportunity to save that card for later when you have the means to visit. The first player to reserve a park at the end of the trail also gets the first player marker for the next round. The first player token is worth 1 point at the end of the game.
BUY GEAR – You may choose to buy gear that will help you in the upcoming seasons. The gear cards give you extra perks and can be quite useful. You can buy from the three available cards and use sunshine tokens listed to cover the cost. Gear card abilities are ongoing and some can even have immediate effects. Place the card face up near you so you remember to use it throughout the game. The first player gets a one sunshine discount for buying gear. In a 4+ player game the second player also gets a discount.
VISIT A PARK – This is the whole point of the game, to visit parks. For this you will pick up one of the three available parks cards that you want to visit or a park you’ve already reserved and pay the amount of resources on the bottom for it. Keep this card with you it will give you points at the end of the game.
END OF A SEASON
Once a player has their two hikers on the trail end they are done for the season. Remaining players will keep moving until only one hiker is left. Once there is one hiker left they must move to the trail end. The player with the camera may pay a token to take a photo. Empty the canteens, light the campfires and return hikers to the beginning of the trail.
START A NEW SEASON
Pick up the trail sites except for the start and end. Add a new advanced site and shuffle together to make it one site larger. Now create a new trail for the season. Turn over a new season card and set up the weather pattern.
END OF GAME
Once the fourth season is over players can add up their points from their visited parks, photos and any points earned from the year end card. Also the player with the 1st player marker will get an additional point. Player with the most points wins.
If you are looking for a good summer themed nature game, this is an obvious choice. Also if you are a fan of the US National Parks this is a great game to celebrate them.
If you like parks, please try: