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Published on August 13th, 2019 | by Ben Rueter


Gen Con 2019: Hiking through the National Parks in one box with PARKS

Adapting snow peaked mountains that embolden the horizon or bringing the rolling grassy plains to life in all of the United States National Parks in an 8 ½ by 8 ½ box may not be the simplest endeavour, but it’s one that Keymaster Games is embarking on.


the artwork was created for this game. In fact, the artwork was commissioned by 59 Parks for their print series celebrating the national parks.


PARKS: The Board Game, designed by Henry Audubon was at Gen Con this year available to demo and pre order.


Gen Con, the largest and longest-running tabletop gaming convention in America, took place Aug. 1-4 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year the convention brought in nearly 70,000 attendees to see more 538 exhibiting companies.


Matt Aiken, CFO at Keymaster Games said that this game is all about making memories.


This concept carries over to the game design that tasks 1-5 player with hiking through National Parks over the course of one year. Players collect memories, which act as a resource for scoring points in the end.


Players will move their little wooden hikers over trail tiles that allow them to acquire memories or resources. For example a hiker may choose to snap a photo of the landscape, collect a canteen or if two hikers cross paths they may want to set up camp and gather around a campfire. At a campfire hikers can trade memories.


Once at the end of the trail hikers can stock up on supplies, reserve a trip to a park or visit a new park.


The game will take about 30 minutes to an hour to complete. There is also a solo variant of the game.


But it’s mostly about the journey not the destination in PARKS. And nothing communicates that better than the game’s picturistic art on a 2.75 inch x 4.75 inch card or tarot card size.


“We wanted to bring a high level of graphic design, ease of play [and] ease of teaching,” Aiken said.


In order to best represent the untouched beauty of the parks, Aiken said the team reached out to the Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series last October.


“We are big fans of company called Fifty-Nine Parks,” he said.


Once Fifty-Nine Parks was on board, 37 illustrators created 48 illustrations for the game. Aiken said that it took around two months to develop the game.


Aiken said the attention to detail didn’t stop with the cards. The carefully considered design carries over to the box, wooden hikers and tokens.


The game fits snug in a 8 ½ by 8 ½ box with containers that hold in place every token and wooden game piece. Aiken said it’s part of limiting the barrier to entry for people that aren’t as experienced with tabletop games.


“Everything fits tight in the pack,” he said.


The game was successfully backed on Kickstarter in February with a total of 9,781 backers pledging $419,675 to see the game come to life.


Preorders are available online and PARKS: The Board game will be in retail stores this September.

About the Author

Ben Rueter has been writing for a number of years ranging from video game pieces online to traditional journalism articles as well. Every since he got his hands on an Atari 2600 and learned his way around DOS, he’s been keeping up with all kinds of video games. Ben is also an avid movie fan from classic Sergio Leone to Charlie Kaufman movies.

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