Parks: The Perfect Date Night Board Game

Parks Boardgame
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I want to propose a new date-night option: board games. Hear me out!

You can choose the style and format of game you play based on with whom you’re on a date.

Do you have a first date? A board game is a perfect ice-breaker and welcome at most coffee shops. Talk about the game if you’re struggling for conversation.

Would you like to know more about someone you’ve been dating? Choose a competitive game or a cooperative game. Either one will illuminate plenty, I promise.

Not to mention, role-playing and dungeon-crawling with your spouse never goes out of style. Choose your own adventure, and have some fun! Today, I want to tell you about one game in particular, one I’ve fallen in love with!

But before we discuss my latest infatuation, let me ask you: how many parks did you get to this summer? This season is winding down, and if you didn’t get “out” or “away” as much as you wanted, I offer you an alternative. 

I am an avid supporter of our US National Park Service and state parks. I adore our public lands, and hiking/swimming/snorkeling them all IS my bucket list. I also love board games. Playing board games in a national or state park after a day of hiking or other activity is even better. 

I recently discovered “Parks” by Keymaster Games. In addition to being a beautiful and brilliant board game, a donation is made to the US National Park Service for every game purchased. What’s not to love? 

In this game, your two-member team treks through “Parks” over four different seasons. To complete the game, your meeple (game pieces) visit parks, pick up gear, fill their canteens, observe wildlife, and take photos. The best part? The art of the game derives from the Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series, @FiftyNineParks, which also donates a portion of the profits of prints sold to the US National Park Service. Which makes purchasing this game officially guilt-free. It doesn’t get any sexier than “guilt-free”!

I can honestly tell you the first game I played of “Parks” took longer than it should have because I was enraptured with the beauty of the card and tiles. I marveled over the wonderful art, and I am thrilled to report that the artists’ names are on the cards they created. As a creative individual who writes for a living, this recognition brought a tear of appreciation to my eye.

“Parks” can be played with one to five players; therefore, it is a great date-night or family-night game. One game can run thirty to sixty minutes, unless you’re like me and ogle at the artwork. Trust me, and plan on working that extra time in on your first go-round. 

Beyond the stunning artwork, let’s go deeper into nerdy territory, Dearest Readers and Gamers. Question: Can you name forty-eight National Parks? Me neither. That’s how many National Park cards come with this game. (I hope more Parks cards will be forthcoming via an expansion pack[s].) And for someone who claims to love our National Parks system as much as I do, the number of cards which contained parks that I’d never heard of before stunned me! Cuyahoga Valley National Park, National Park of American Samoa, and Isle Royale National Park are now all on my list. I also learned two out of three of those are within driving distance from me. Each Park card states the year of establishment as a National Park, the artist’s name (as mentioned earlier), and a piece of trivial information about the park. 

The goal of the game is to visit Parks and accumulate points for visiting them—an excellent goal, I might add. Although there are ten different seasons of weather patterns in the game, as you go through the game you will only use four of the seasons per game. Your trek grows longer by one tile with every passing season. Each player is also dealt a yearly goal card which will merit extra points if those objectives are met after the four seasonal rounds. Points are tallied at the end of four seasons based on several things: number of parks visited, number of photos taken, etc. Keeping your canteens filled allows you to do more heavy lifting, and purchasing the correct gear will help you reach your yearly goal. 

Tokens are collected along the trek which allow players to do all of these things. To keep things interesting, players may only carry up to twelve tokens at a time. Players must discard down to twelve tokens at the end of their turn. Hikers, after all, must travel lightly. I never made it up to twelve in the first couple of games I played, but I suppose it’s possible to do so. 

Strategy also comes into play. There is only one camera in this game, but everyone wants/needs to take pictures for points, so take your pictures while you have the camera, because you may not have it for long. Another player can take the camera away from you at any time. Each player is dealt a campfire which should be used wisely. Also, the last hiker on the trail must move directly to the trail end without any more stops or actions along the trek, although every meeple takes an action at the trail end. Ergo, plan your hikers accordingly. 

“Parks” was fully funded under a Kickstarter this year, and Kickstarter backers receive their games with special bonuses this month. I played the edition of “Parks” purchased at GenCon 2019. Retail sales to the public should commence in September. 

This game is perfect for learning about our US National Park system. In addition, it is a resource to potentially plan visits for your next getaway—you will be amazed at how close some of these parks are to you. If nothing else, you can escape to a Park right from your kitchen table. Dim the lights, pour the wine, and imagine a whole new terrain surrounds you. Ancillary romantic role-playing at your will! 

Love your Parks, Dearest Readers. Love them, or lose them. It’s that simple.

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