Somewhere along the way, polyomino tiles became a big rage in board games. No one even used the word “polyomino” beforehand, it was covered in dust in a forgotten corner of the English language. Now, there are several good options for these kinds of tile-laying games, both light and heavy. Bärenpark is extremely light.
There’s honestly not much to say about the game itself. You have a “park” with a grid of squares and a small starting tile. On your turn, you place a tile into your park. Then, depending on what icons you covered with the tile, you get to draft one or more new tiles from the supply. Bigger tiles are worth points. You get a statue, also worth points, for filling one park section. One of the icons you can cover lets you expand the park with a new grid of squares to fill. Game ends when someone has filled 4 parks. That’s the whole game. There’s an advanced variant with achievement tiles also worth points.
We just played the basic version, as we typically do for our first time playing a new game. Even for simple games, we know that there can be a surprising amount of depth and nuance, so you want to get used to the game first before adding variants or expansions. Not so with Bärenpark. It’s extremely simple. And I think we finished in maybe 20 minutes? But it’s a satisfying little game, and even if you lose, you have a neat park in front of you with all your hard work. And your shame of empty spaces…
I honestly debated on if I should just make this a review, but we’ve only played once and haven’t tried the advanced variant. Given how incredibly short the game is and that everyone enjoyed it, I’m sure we’ll get it back to the table before long, tough.