Barenpark is a light puzzle strategy game that is perfect for adults, kids, families, gamers, and even non-gamers (I prefer to call them soon-to-be-gamers!). We’ve had a blast with every one of these groups. Call it an expanded filler game perfect to play a couple of standalone games or slip in between some heavy strategy games.
Your job is to create an entire park worthy of its carnivorous Ursidae (i.e., bears!). Place pieces which cover construction equipment to gain access to new pieces. Wheelbarrows open up outhouses, food stands, playgrounds, and rivers; cement trucks open animal houses; diggers open full-scale animal enclosures, the largest pieces on the board (and worth the most points!); and construction crews open an entire new section of the park to build upon. Fill up every space in a section to gain bear statues worth more points the sooner you receive them.
As a light area control game, the mechanics of Barenpark are a blast as you race to fill up all squares on each of your boards to get the next coveted bear trophy. It’s amusing watching other players rotate their hands, tilt their heads, purse their lips, and place pieces in 15 different locations trying to figure out what the best placement will be. =-) Kids are especially fun to watch doing this.
The expansion or advanced mode is fantastic and takes this game to a whole new level. Essentially, gain extra points for fulfilling goal cards such as being the first to connect three river pieces, place three koala tiles, or group six green tiles. It’s a very fun game within a game. The best part about this is that it’s included in the base game!
Tips & Tricks
- If you think ahead, you’ll be able to leverage your turns in such a way as to maximize space usage. I try to never use the playgrounds (2 squares) or the outhouses (1 square); I only use the rivers (curved 3 squares) or food streets (straight 3 squares). This naturally leads to filling each park area faster which leads to earlier bear trophies which are worth more points. See where I’m going with that? =-)
- I have found that a focus on fit and speed (finishing first to both gain higher-valued bear trophies as well as keep others from getting them by finishing the game faster) is most successful.
Scoring & Wrap-up
Overall, I give Barenpark a 7 out of 10 for the following reasons:
- Builds spacial awareness skills in kids
- Portable, easy to learn, and quick to play
- Equal fun playing with any group or age
- Superb expert variant
- This was more my fault than anything, but after playing maybe 15 times in a couple of weeks, it became a bit automatic. The replay value shot so high so fast but then crashed down. I’m sure it will come back, but for now, I need a break. =-)
- It can be a beast fitting all the pieces back in the box. There’s a partial attempt to segment the pieces (one cross insert), but several more cubic inches would have been very helpful.
Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.