Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Randy Flynn

Alderac Entertainment Group / Flatout Games

No. of Players:

G@mebox Star



G@mebox author Lutz Wildt writes about the game:

I like to go hiking in my free time. Unfortunately, there are only very small mountains in my area. More precisely, they are rather hills. Hiking is quite funny in these hills. But of course, it is much more funny in the real mountains with high peaks, wide valleys and in the best case a few clear mountain lakes. To find such landscapes, I have to drive quite a distance, almost 1000km. So, when I saw the packaging of Cascadia, it immediately warmed my heart, because my dream of a hiking vacation is depicted one-to-one on the cover of the game. This was released as a Kickstarter version by FLATOUT GAMES and as a retail version by ALDERAC ENTERTAINMENT GROUP shortly after. And there is even an elk in the painting of the gamebox! So it is obvious that I had to try this game. Maybe this way I can dive into a wonderful mountain world much more comfortably and quickly than to drive north or south.


Click on image to enlarge!

Cascadia is a tile-laying and token-drafting game inspired by the habitat and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. Players try to create the most diverse environment possible by drawing hexagonal Habitat Tiles and round Wildlife Tokens while transforming these tiles into the most beautiful landscape with wildlife possible. While all of the game material is of very high quality and the artwork is beautiful, this still doesn't work just alone from an aesthetic standpoint.

Cascadia consists of a large stack of Habitat Tiles and a cloth bag full of Wildlife Tokens, four combinations of each pairs are available in a display for players to choose from. The Habitat Tiles represent Mountains, Forests, Prairies, Wetlands and Rivers, while the Wildlife Tokens come as Bear, Elk, Salmon, Hawk and Fox. In addition, there is a set of five Wildlife Scoring Cards (out of a total of 21) of the aforementioned animals.


Click on image to enlarge!

The game principle is very simple. A player selects a pair of the Wildlife Tokens and Habitat Tiles on display and inserts both into his landscape, that at the beginning consists only of a three-part Starter Tile. After that, a new Habitat Tile and Wildlife Token are drawn again and it is the next player's turn to choose from four pairs. This continues until no more Habitat Tile can be drawn and the game ends. Especially at the beginning, the choice of tile and token combination is quite easy, because players can easily expand their landscape. However, as the game progresses, the choice gets more and more difficult. As mentioned, it's not about the aesthetics of the landscape that earns the players victory points. Rather, points are awarded for a predetermined arrangement of Habitat Tiles and Wildlife Tokens. The rule for Habitat Tiles is the same in every game. Players receive one point each for the largest group of equal contiguous Habitat Tiles, and this applies for all five types of landscapes. Furthermore, the player with the largest contiguous corridor of each landscape gets bonus points depending on the number of players. But that's not all! Otherwise it would be a bit like the classic Carcassonne. This is where the Wildlife Scoring Cards come into play. For each of the animals mentioned above, these cards also display specific patterns or combinations of patterns for which players can earn points.

There are two things I particularly like about these cards. Actually, three! First of all, I have to say that they are beautifully drawn by Beth Sobel. It really makes a statement on the table! But they also have something to offer in terms of rules. Finally, there are four different scoring cards of each animal. For each animal, however, the basic idea, the arrangement always remains the same and at the same time differs from the other animals. This means, for example, that with the bears there are always points for a group of a prescribed size, where no other bears may be on the neighboring tiles. Whereas with the fox, different other animals must always be adjacent to get points. This is certainly feasible, but in the game you have to pay close attention to implement this, because of course you can not just place any animal on a habitat tile. On the contrary, the possible habitat inhabitants are exactly prescribed. Most of the time, two or three animal species are allowed (although you may only place one animal per tile).

In rare cases, only one type of animal can be used. If you place an animal there, however, you receive a Nature Token as a reward. This token can be used to remove the obligation to use a habitat and wildlife pair and simply choose any combination of them. In addition, you can swap Wildlife Tokens in the display with help of these tokens, quite useful if you you have no use of the current ones. These advantages become especially crucial towards the end of the game, when the landscape layout and animal patterns are already well advanced and not as flexible for changes. A poor foresight of possible combinations can quickly cost you a lot of points.


Click on image to enlarge!

All right, FLATOUT GAMES and ALDERAC ENTERTAINMENT GROUP combined with tile-laying games, Calico (which was also illustrated by Beth Sobel) naturally comes to mind. Certainly the basic principle and also the high quality is very similar, but I must say that the two games are indeed very different. Especially towards the end they differ a lot. While in Calico you have to bury one plan after the other, because the playing field offers you no more space, in Cascadia you can almost draw from the full and expand your playing field more and more during the game. In addition, Cascadia gives you much more choice in terms of puzzle pieces, and the Wildlife Tokens add an extra layer to the game.

With Cascadia, the author Randy Flynn and the two publishers have to my mind really created a masterpiece. It is quickly explained, plays easily, is nevertheless challenging and offers high replayability with all player numbers. The game material and artwork are really great. I've been able to try it out with a wide variety of player types and they all really liked the game! I think this has to do with the fact that it can easily be played in different competitive ways. There are even cards available that simplify the scoring rules for the Wildlife Tokens, making Cascadia even playable as a simple family game. For me a clear must have! Of course, also because I can wonderfully switch to wander mode while playing. So if the weather is extremely bad or the next hiking trail is too far away, I just take Cascadia out of my shelf and start hiking! If that's not worth a Gameboxstar!

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