On todays episode of the Burnt Toast Board Game Podcast we review a beautiful game about hiking the United State’s national parks. Listen to find out where it ranks on our list the best games ever.
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Game Review Transcription
Zach (Z): What’s up, everybody? Welcome back to the Burnt Toast Board Game podcast, where four friends come together in the search for the best board game ever. I’m here with Tim.
Jeremy (J): Hey, Zach.
David (D): Hey. I’m a squirrel.
Z: And I’m Zach. Today we are talking about a beautiful game, I would say one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen. Today we are talking about a board game called Parks designed by Henry Audibon, where I think we’re going to say in partnership with the 59 parks print scenes and published by Keymaster games.
T: Keymaster? This my kind of game!
Z: This game is an adventure kind of game. Environmental game, just travel game. It’s a point collecting game, really? In a way, resource collecting and point game.
But in parks, you are hiking the 49 state parks. Not. Sorry, not state parks. National parks.
J: There are nine of them?
Z: Well, I’m guessing based on the artist 49 parks prints, I’m assuming there’s 49 parks, but I could be wrong. But your whole thing is you take on control of two hikers and there’s a trail that is developed in front of the board, which kind of acts as the board. And as you go along the trail hiking, you collect resources which would be like sun or water or mountain tiles or wood? Is there a wood one? I don’t remember what the fourth resource was.
T: I don’t remember. Camera?
Z: Well, there’s a part where you take pictures. There’s another resource in there I don’t totally remember. But you’re collecting them and you use those?
Z: Yeah, that’s probably the wood one. I’m thinking of.
J: water, sun, fire and wild.
Z: Yeah. Is that it?
Z: Yeah that is what we were thinking for fire.
Z: Trees? Oh year! That was the last one. Which one were the tree ones?
J: The little green tree ones. Exactly like a tree.
Z:I cannot picture that.
T: Remember? I needed to get six trees.
Z: Yeah. David, Where’s your picture? So we have this memory in our brain.
D: Sorry, I was looking up Auto Bond tree Guide.
J: It’s just a little green tree.
Z: It’s just a little green tree? What are you talking about? I need to look at the pictures of board game geeks, so I know what I’m talking about. It’s like a pine tree.
T: How do you describe tree better?
Z: Anyway? So the resources are sun, mountain tiles, water tiles, trees. And then also you can get wild ones, which count as all of them,
J: which are actually really cool. I liked it.
Z: They were different shapes of animals and creatures and things like that.
D: Yeah. Every single different one had a different shape.
Z: Yeah. So you hike the trail and you do these things and then you use those when you reach the end of the trail. In a way, you’re purchasing parks. Not that you’re buying them, but it’s like you’re purchasing that you visited that park and each park is worth points and it is 45 or 49.
All the different national parks painted beautifully. They’re amazing art. We’re going to post these on Twitter and Instagram this week.
J: They look like pictures.
Z: Yeah, they’re so good.
T: It inspired us to want to go to these places.
Z: It’s true, which I’m sure that’s 100% what they want. But you can also purchase gear that helps you to accomplish different things and maybe get different resources.
And then as you complete the trail, once everybody completes the trail, you shuffle and you add a tile and you redo the trail and it becomes different systems.
But the trail gets longer each time and the game goes until everybody hikes the trail four times.
And then at the end of the game, it’s whoever has the most points. And points are made up by the parks you visited. You have a personal goal you’re trying to accomplish that’s different than everybody else that could get you points.
If you take pictures throughout the game, which has there’s a camera in the game and things like that, as you take pictures, each picture you take is worth a point. And I think those were really the main point factors. In a nutshell, that’s the game.
J: Well, one of the things that you didn’t mention is when you get to the end of it, if you don’t have enough to purchase a park, then you can reserve a park.
Z: That’s true.
J: Along the way
Z: So the board is set up where there are kind of like a normal kind of like ticket to ride style. There’s a deck of park cards and you show three same thing with equipment and stuff like that. But then when you get to the end of the trail, if you have the resources to purchase the park and make it yours, you can purchase it or you can reserve it where you take it and set it aside for yourself. You don’t purchase it yet, but you just set it aside so you can later. It just keeps it from other people being able to do it,
Which if you’re like David or Jeremy or everybody else, that’s not me. You got a lot of those or you’re the fool like me that just doesn’t think ahead. And you’re like, great, I’m going to purchase that park. And then one turn before it’s my turn. Oh, we’ll just reserve this one over here. I’m like, come on.
D: Also if there’s something that you know, you can’t get ever, you can reserve it out of the way and let a new card come out.
Z: Or if it’s a really big point card, you can steal it. So that way nobody else gets the points.
J: Because there’s no penalty for not getting the parts that you have reserved.
Z: Correct. But that’s pretty much the game. It’s a real chill, laid back game. I mean, there is an element of like there were multiple times where we were like it would be a person’s turn and they were sitting there thinking for a good solid five minutes trying to figure out what their best next move would be.
Because part of it is the trail is made up of, I think, at the beginning, like eight tiles maybe or so. But the trick is if there’s a hiker already on a space, you cannot go on that space unless you use your campfire, which every person has a campfire, but they can only use their campfire once per hike.
So you can do it, but you use it for campfire. After that, you can’t land on the same space. So that might force you to move somewhere where you don’t want to move. So there’s a little bit of strategy in that and you can’t go backwards on the trail. So if you skip ahead, you can’t skip back to get a resource that was there.
T: And you have two hikers.
T: You got to think about, okay, if this hiker goes there the whole time someone else is going you’re thinking. Which I think is fun.
J: and the first one that was another thing like Zach, I think you went first. There is a first players token you get by being the first one to get a reservation.
D: Right. To reserve a park.
Z: Yes. First person at the end reserve park.
J: Yeah. So there’s a little bit of motivation to being the first one in, but then there’s also motivation to be the last one in,
Z: but then in return, you have to move your hiker and you only have one hiker left. So it gets full. And so you’re kind of going too fast. There were several times for me. I think what I learned from when we played the last is I should have gone slower through the hike, even though I felt like I went slow through the hike. I think you and David were like you.
J: We were the softest.
Z: Yeah. And that shows because I don’t have my board game stats app up to see, but I’m pretty sure I think it was you and David were second place. And then Tim and I were like in the back,
J: points wise, we tied. And then he ended up winning because he had more parks.
Z: More parks,
D: one more park. Yeah. I acquired one more park,
J: and he got a lot of the cheap parks. So it was easier for you to get more.
D: And yeah, the last season we played, I had both my hikers still on the board. So if you’re the very last hiker, once the second last gets to that final end of the trail, that last hiker also zooms to the end of the trail and chooses an action.
D: But I had both of my hikers there and I was going as slow as I could.
Z: Yeah. Being very strategic about it.
D: Using every single tile that I could. So that way I could use up as much time and use the board. So, yeah, it’s a strategy.
Z: Yeah. It’s a super fun game. It says ages ten and up. I would say that’s probably a safe bet. It’s a bit complicated with the amount of things you’re thinking about and processing.
J: You could probably go younger.
Z: You could, but
T: I would say with the right kid.
Z: But I would say if you have a younger kid and you want to play this game or a game like it in a week or two, we’re going to review Trails, which is a smaller version of this game that my kids love playing and they grasp it and things like that.
But we’ll cover that and talk about that when we get to that. But it’s a very similar I think it’s made by the same people, made by the same artists. They just have like kind of stripped it down to be a simpler form of the game. But we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about parks.
But ten plus per age, it’s 30 to 60 minutes or more. One to five players. According to Board Game Geek. It’s his best at three. But I thought it was fine with four as well.
D:I thought it was good at two. Emerald and I played
Z: because you played later.
D: So we had good fun with two. It was definitely different. I think with two people we had a higher score. I had 40 points. Yeah, I think 40.
J: We had 38 when we played.
D: I thought we had like 31 each.
T: He’s a number guy.
D: Okay. I think I had 41 and Emerald had 43, so she beat me. Yeah.
J: Whooped up on you? 43.
T: That’s okay.
Z: It’s okay.
D: It was definitely different. Like Zach said in our game that we that the four of us played. I was reserving a lot of parks
Z: that I thought you were not going to be able to get.
J: We were both talking about it. We’re like, yeah, who never get those?
Z: Which you did. You got most of them.
D: I think I got most of them. I think I had two or three still there. But then when I was playing with Emerald and for some reason we had a bunch of low point perks showing up.
Z: Did you shuffle?
D: Yes, but it was pretty late in the game until we only saw like one five point park and like four point parks were pretty scarce.
So I ended up feeling like I had tons of resources the whole time and was having a hard time spending them properly.
Z: We forgot to mention this, though. There is a of bit a resource management, too, in the sense that you’re only allowed to have twelve resources total. So if you get to that amount and you got to go over, you have to pick some to discard at the same time. So there is an element of when you’re getting full, you want to either spend them to take a picture or go ahead and go ahead and buy a park so you get your resources out so you can start collecting more. So there’s a bit of that balance there, too.
D: So whenever there was an opportunity to reserve a Park, I generally always had the option to buy a park, and I would generally prioritize buying a park.
Z: Are you saying with Emerald or us?
D: with Emerald. Just because I had so many resources and it was just always better to take the opportunity to buy a park. So I just had a huge bunch of parks.
T: Well, with two people, you basically can go every other spot.
D: Yeah. Use the trail a little more efficiently.
Z: Is there anything we didn’t really love about the gamer that we just didn’t really click with?
T: We like games too much.
Z: I know we do like game. This is my personal frustration. So it’s a good design in the game, but the whole reserving parks just got me so many times. Literally every time I was like, I’m going to get that part. Somebody got it right before I did. And that purely is. I don’t think that’s against the mechanics of the game. That was purely just bad luck on mine. Maybe that’s why they say three is better than four in the game number. But I felt like, at least for me, almost everything I tried to do, you guys ruined every moment. But…
T: I feel like it was me, because I was right before you every time
Z: It is just part of the game.
D: I know we’re supposed to be talking about bad things, but
Z: we don’t have to.
D:We haven’t brought up yet that the packaging is amazing.
Z: Beautiful packaging. And well designed for storage, too.
D: Yeah. There’s a place for everything, and it all fits nicely down there.
Z: and the resources have their own little trays that you don’t have to put them out on the table. It’s all prepackaged.
D: Yeah. There’s two different little trays, so you can have one on either side of the board.
Z: shaped like little trees. I mean,
T: that’s what when we packing it up, I was like, this is maybe the best designed.
J: Yeah. Every game would do that.
T: Yeah. Why can’t everyone,
Z: Unlike Gloomhaven’s design.
T: We had to go out and get containers ourselves. Right.
Z: That’s true. Yeah. Did I?
D: But yeah. When I was opening up our copy of the game Emerald in mine, I was just struck by how nice all the pieces of paper in there was printed on. Really nice paper.
Z: I’m assuming you probably got the same little postcard thing in yours.
Z:I got a postcard thing, but I wasn’t sure if it was, like, different for each box. There’s like a little tiny light. It’s one of the park pictures, kind of on a nice card stock.
D:I don’t know if we got that. I think I noted that the underside of the box lid was different. I think yours like the Joshua tree, wasn’t it? Yours had the Joshua tree, and I think ours had the arches.
Z: Okay. Now I want to go home to my box and look at it all and see if it’s the same I’ll do that tomorrow. I’ll take pictures.
Z: Well, with that then, where do we want to put it on our list? Is it the best Ford game ever?
Our current list from the top ten, we currently have 15 games on the list. If you’d like to see our full list, you can go to theBurnttoastpodcast.com. But we always start with our top ten. And if we feel it’s below that,
T: we’re just going to say, can you bring up the top ten?
Z: Sorry, I thought you’re waving because it’s not recording.
But the top ten is. Number ten is Santorini. Number nine is Flashpoint Fire Rescue. Number eight, Raccoon Tycoon. Number seven is Betrayal at House on the Hill. Number six, Tiny Towns, number five, The Mind. Number four, Settlers of Catan. Number three, Root. Number two, Scythe. And number one is Gloomhaven.
Now, if we feel like it’s not on that list, we will then read beyond the top ten list.
J: Oh , it’s on that list.
Z: Yeah. I would assume for some of us it is. Where would you like to put Parks,
T: Tiny Towns, what was that?
Z: Betrayal? So you are putting it at number seven, that is where Tim would like to put it.
T: Which is… I think it’s definitely a top five game, but I think the other ones we have is top five too.
T: So it’s hard.
Z: I get that that
T: because I got played over and over.
Z & D: Yeah.
T: I got frustrated at the end of it because I was like, okay, I’m doing really good. But then these two just were like, slow played it.
Z: I was confident you were going to win. I was like, you have so many points, Tim. I don’t know how we could beat you. And then we were the last two.
T: Like, I got beat by ten, but it was because I didn’t slow play enough at the end. So I was eager to play it again.
D: I put it maybe behind Rooting in front of Catan.
Z: Okay. So number four.
J: I was kind of debating where it was going to go. I have a hard time putting it in front of Catan.
T: Me too.
D: It is So much more pretty.
Z: It is.
D: I like the strategy better, I think. Well, I don’t know.
T: I agree.
J: I think it’s just because I haven’t played Catan in a while.
T: If they can make their packaging and stay together better, it’d be a better game.
J & D: Yeah,
J: it almost puts it over top of Catan. The packaging is awesome, but I’m not going to rate a game on its packaging.
Z: Where are you putting it after Catan?
J: After Catan,
Z: You’re putting it number five. I think I’m going to put mine at. I think I was going to put mine after the Mind. I would put it at number six. All above. I like settle as a Catan. I think on any given day I would maybe pick this over Catan, but at the same time, I don’t know if I would. And I think part of it might be that I was so heartbroken at how much I got destroyed last time.
T: I think we were all protecting Catan because I think Catan was our first game. That wasn’t Monopoly, at least for my life.
D: Yeah, I think it was for me, too. Yeah. Well, I sort of grew up more on the farming game because our mom didn’t like Monopoly,
T: but, you know, like that. Yeah, everyone did it
Z: I remember people played Catan like crazy.
D: Although I think you guys went to College and played Catan a ton. And then when I got there, everyone was sort of burnt out.
Z: That’s fine. No, I could put it anywhere in there. That’s okay.
T: You kind of convinced me to put in the same spot as you. After the mind before Tiny Town.
Z: Well, I’ve already done the average
T: never mind.
Z: Well, but it works because now it’s 5.5, so it’s tied with the mind. So would you put the mind before it or after it?
J: I would put mine after it for sure.
D: Yeah. After
T: both before us, I would put the mind.
J: We both rated it better. We want it closer to Catan.
Z: Yeah, I can accept the argument of that and say that it’s probably better than the mind.
T: It’s definitely more thoughtful than the mind.
D: Yeah. I mean,
T: although the mind is like this was easy to make and fun game.
Z: Let’s do it. It’s before the mind. It’s taking the new number five spot. Get excited.
T: Yeah, it’s a top five game for sure.
Z: So there you go. It’s in your top five, like you said.
So that makes a new top ten. Further. Monopoly goes down the list.
Number ten, Flashpoint Fire Rescue. Number nine, Raccoon Tycoon. Number eight, Betrayal of House on the Hill. Number seven, Tiny Towns. Number six, the Mind at number five, Parks. Number four, Settlers of Catan. Number three, Root. Number two, Scythe. And number one, Gloomhaven.
Again. If you want to see the full list beyond our top ten and even our list of our quick games to set up and play, you can have it over to theBurntospodcast.com and get all those full lists there.
Any last thoughts on parks before we move on and talk about our lives? Well, then we’ll be right back and we’ll talk about our lives.