Barenpark is a delightful little game. This light tile placement filler has players each constructing their own theme park, focusing on guest amenities, food establishments, and carefully balancing several – look, all of that was a lie. It’s all about the bears, people!
Jess: I’m in!
Josh: Heck yeah, sign me up!
In Barenpark, each player starts with a base tile, which represents their bear-themed park in potentia. Each turn, players will place one of their tiles on their board and, depending on what symbols they cover, they will gain access to either more tiles or even additional boards.
- Covering a wheelbarrow nets you a basic park shape of your choice. Useful for plugging gaps, these bearless tiles are simply fillers.
- Covering a cement mixer gives you access to larger, more bearish tiles. These are good for covering large areas simultaneously, making it easier to race ahead in your park completion and unlocking more tiles for your use.
- Covering an excavator gets you your choice of the largest, most bearish tiles available. These gargantuan attractions all have unique footprints that can spell the key to ursine victory.
- Covering some architects gets you a new park board to add to your tableau. Each player can have a maximum of 4 park tiles.
Jess: Every tile (besides the basics) is worth some points, with each tile type getting less valuable as the game progresses. In that way, Barenpark is definitely a race of efficiency – you want to get those tiles down in the smartest way possible, to maximize your per-turn tile draw.
Josh: And not only that! Every time you cover an entire tile (besides the forbidden ‘pit’ space), you will socket the most valuable bear statue into that last spot. Since these too get less valuable the more are placed, you definitely want to be ahead of your competitors. But then again, what else would you expect in the wild world of bear park construction?
Barenpark really is that simple. Once a player completes their fourth park tile, everyone else gets one turn and then points are added up and the best bear builder is declared!
Andrew: That’s all there is to the basic game, but there is simply no reason not to include the ‘expert’ (read: not at all complicated and should always be used) award tiles into the mix. At the beginning of the game, you will randomly pick 3 categories of tiles which will act as bonuses for the rest of the game. Some of these are for contiguous tiles of a certain shape, number of tiles of a certain type, or even completing multiple park tiles simultaneously.
Is the theme pasted on? Absolutely, 100% – but who cares? Barenpark is an abstract tile-layer. That they went with such a fun, if paper-thin theme is delightful. And yeah, it’s essentially multi-player solitaire, but that fits the weight-class just fine – the simple race that Barenpark represents is perfectly suited to its filler-class length and depth.
We really loved everything about Barenpark…
Jess: Almost everything.
Josh: Ok, I admit, the ‘insert’ was a little bit of a confusing thing to deal with. But I made it all work!
Bottom line, we recommend Barenpark – it’s a family-weight game, but with enough simple decision-making that it stays entertaining far longer than it has any right to. The art is clean and vibrant, the mechanics are straightforward and fun, and overall it’s simply an excellent filler all around.
If building a bear park sounds like your kinda good time (and I mean, obviously), snag yourself a copy of Barenpark today!
(Gameosity received a review copy of this game. We were not otherwise compensated.)