Yosemite is a National Park located in California, and like many national parks, it’s home to lots of wildlife and great views. If you can’t afford to go there, then this is your chance to visit while not setting foot inside. While playing the game, you will participate in a photo contest, taking pictures of animals found in the park. This is a 2 player abstract strategy game that uses set collection and grid movement. The game is designed by Tim Blank, and this is his 4th published game. The game is published by Wizkids, the publisher of other games like Marvel Remix that I previously reviewed, Super-Skill Pinball: Ramp It Up!, Bequest, Zombie Princess, and HeroClix.
What’s in the Box?
- 1 Game Board
- 45 Square Animal Tiles
- 5 Square Landmark Tiles
- 5 Landmark Tokens
- 2 Fish Tokens
- 10 Tent Tokens
- 1 Camping Token
- 2 Pawns
- 20 Photo Cards
- 5 Judge Cards
How’s it Play?
In Yosemite, the board is made up of 25 animal tiles placed in a 5×5 grid. The game board is placed next to the grid and tokens are placed on the matching sections. Photo and judge cards are then placed out to use for the game.
The game is played in turns and rounds. The first player will take a turn and then the next will take theirs, and that becomes a round. On a player’s turn they will play through 3 phases. The first phase is optional, and is to eat fish. The second phase is to explore, and the last phase of a turn is to reset.
1. Eat Fish
On the main board each player has a fish track, if you have any fish available to use, you can “eat” any number of them to move your pawn that many spaces the park. All movement is orthogonal (up, down, left, right), and you can move in any combination of those movements, but you can not pass through an opponent’s space or land on the same space they are on. This optional action is to help you setup for a better turn if you were either moved by your opponent, or you didn’t set up your turn from the end of your last turn.
You will choose one of the following options:
A. Move one space in any direction. Again, you cannot move onto a space your opponent is on, nor move through them. Then increase your fishing track by one. This is only an action you should perform if you don’t have any fish to use in the eat fish phase, and your stuck in a bad location.
B. Move according to the animal you’re on. If you are on an animal tile, and you didn’t perform the other option, you will move your pawn according to the animal’s ability.
Red Fox – Move one, two, or three spaces.
Black Bear – Move exactly 2 spaces in one direction. You may move your opponent one space in any direction.
Bighorn Sheep – Move any number of spaces in the same direction.
Rattlesnake – Move one to two spaces. If you land on your opponent, move them one space in any direction.
Cougar – Pounce to the edge of the park in one direction. If you cross through or land on your opponent, move them up to two spaces.
After moving, collect the animal tile you left from, adding it to your hand. Then perform the tile’s bonus ability shown on the top left.
Fish – Increase your fishing track by one.
Tent – If your the first to do this action, place the tent token on the first space facing you. Every time after, players will move the token one space toward themselves. If the token is on your “5” space, instead of moving it, collect one of the tent tokens. These are worth 1 point each at the end of the game. This is like a tug-o-war for points.
Camera – If you have enough animal tiles in your hand that match one of the available photo cards, you can discard those tiles to take the photo. These photos are worth points, and are placed face up in front of each player.
C. Take a landmark token. If you are on a landmark tile with a landmark token, which is placed out when it first comes out on the board. You can collect the landmark token, leaving the tile on the board. And you will not move this turn. Landmark tokens will give you additional ways to score points. For each photo card you have that matches your landmark token, you will gain points according to a chart.
You will refill any vacated spaces on the board with a new tile. If its a landmark tile, place the matching landmark token on it.
If you have more than 10 animal tiles in your hand at this time, you will have to discard down to 10.
If any photos were taken, refill its space with a new card, and then its your opponent’s turn.
This continues until there are no more photo cards left to fill in the 2 spaces. This means 9 photos total have been taken by both players, and 1 is left out unclaimed.
Players count up their points from their photo cards, their tent tokens, the judge cards (whoever has the most of a certain type of animal), and the landmark tokens. Whoever has the most points wins the game.
I am a big fan of national parks and games that highlight them. I like how this one is strictly focused on Yosemite Park. Although I haven’t visited Yosemite Park in person yet, but I really like the potential this national park offers.
I also was pretty surprised how the gameplay is pretty solid. This is not just a game with Yosemite theme pasted on it for a quick money grab. National Parks have become a big thing. We decorated our son’s room with national park posters. My sister in law has made goals to visited lots of the parks in person, and I’m sure many others would like to do the same. But the game, even without the theme is a pretty well designed game. You are planning on how to move around the tiles to place yourself on tiles that will benefit you by either taking its bonus action, or by collecting that tile to complete a photo card. There is enough to think about in this game that it’s not a boring game, but you are strategically thinking how you can get what you want, sometimes before the other player does.
In addition to all that, you will be balancing getting points from the photo cards, getting more a specific animals to get the bonus points from the judge cards, by getting tent points, or by collecting photos that match a landmark token that you grabbed. Some of these will award points better than others, or some will depend on your opponent.
The design of Yosemite makes it so both players will make points, but the smaller details in your strategy, overlapping just a little bit more or using special actions more efficiently to determine the victor. And for that, I like the design of Yosemite. Since it’s mixed with a theme I also like, it just makes Yosemite that much better.
Now, this is a 2 player only game, so it will have its place. I think the game is very balanced because of this, but it will cut it off from many gamers who would rather see a game that encompasses the 1-5 player sweet spot. I play a lot of 2 player games, so for me this game works and will be a fast game we can play that doesn’t require lots of time, nor will it take a lot of time to remember how to play.
You can pre-order Yosemite at the Wizkids store, where it’ll run you $31.95. It’s set to release soon pending the normal production and supply line issues the industry is facing.
Images via WizKids
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