A visit to
is fun for everyone!
At the Bear Park, you can encounter Polar Bears, Panda Bears, Gobi Bears - which are threatened by extinction - as well as Koala Bears. Well, yes, Koala Bears are not bears, but marsupials, but let’s not nit-pick about it. In Bärenpark, two to four players begin their rivalry for the most attractive and sought-after Bear Park with the best attractions. If you can lure most visitors to your park, represented by points, you win the game.
Before the park can be opened, we need to make a few arrangements, because you surely do not start such a venture without the corresponding preparations. For a family game, Bärenpark features quite a lot of components, it takes some time to sort all tiles and to select the amount of various tiles, always in correlation to the number of players.
The Supply Board holding the stock of tiles is placed in the middle, to be in easy reach for all players. The stock of tiles comprises Green Areas, Animal Houses and Enclosures. The Green Areas are made up from Toilets for cleanliness, Playgrounds if children need a break, Food Stall areas for a snack and Rivers for a nice layout of the park. Three players use 10 toilets and 10 playgrounds, stacked for stock, as well as 12 Food Streets and Rivers.
The number of animal houses with the various types of bears depend on the number of players. In a game for three players, you use all tiles of values 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Those tiles not only have different values, but also different shapes and are placed into stock sorted by shapes and stacked in ascending order of value, lowest one at the bottom, highest one on top. Therefore, if you build a type of tile earlier in the game, you score more points for it at the end of the game.
The Enclosures are also sorted by shape. For each type of animal there are only three Enclosures in three different shapes. In general, point values of Enclosures are higher than on Animal Houses and the value also improves when you meet Achievements with Enclosures.
The next step in preparations is to arrange the Bear Statues in numerical order next to the Supply Board. Again, the number of players determines the number of statues that are used- In a game of three players, we use the statues of values 3 to 14, which stand for points that you can acquire.
Each player receives one of the four Park Area tiles featuring an entrance and puts it down on the table. Those entrances are the starting point for your park construction. Then you shuffle the 12 park area tiles without entrance and stack them in two stacks of six tiles, face-up, next to the Supply Board.
The game is begun by the player visited a zoo most recently; this player is given a Toilet, the second and third player in seating order receive a Playground and the fourth player in a game of four receives a Food Stall. In a game with three players, player Three receives a Food Stall instead of a Playground. Those tiles are laid out in front of the respective player and form the personal stock of a player to create his park with.
The game mechanics are rather simple in this tile placement game. The game is played in rounds, in which each player must execute three phases in his turn: He must place one of the tiles in his personal stock into his Park Area. In Phase II, the symbols on the Park Area tile that were covered by the placement of the tile, are resolved. In a final phase, a Bear Statue is placed. Contrary to Phases I and II, Phase III is only resolved, when a Park Area tile is completely filled.
You can always only place one tile per round, even if you have more than one tile available in your personal stock. There are a few rules that need to be observed: The tile you place cannot cover the Pit symbol and it cannot exceed the edge of a Park Area tile. A new tile can, however, be placed covering cases on both two Park Area tiles, that is, if I have two Park Area tiles in front of me, I can place my tile in a way that it touches both Area tiles. A tile can be rotated any way for placement and you can also turn it over to its backside; this can be very helpful if you need to fill a gap, but need the mirror image. A mandatory rule for placement is, that the tile about to be placed must be adjacent to a tile already on the Park Area Tile, of course while observing all the other rules, too.
After placement, the symbols that have been covered by placing the recent tile, are resolved. When several symbols have been covered by the tile, they are all resolved in any order. Most tiles give you tiles that you take from the Supply Board and place into your Personal stock, which can hold any number of tiles.
The Green Wheelbarrow gives you one of the Green Area Tiles.
The White Cement Truck allows you to take the top Animal House of any stack, the choice is left to your discretion. As an alternative or If this action is not available because there are no Animal Houses left, you may take a Green Area. Taking a Green Area is always only a stopgap alternative, if you have no other choice left, and yet, they can help to fill the areas if you built badly.
With the orange Excavator, you are allowed to take one of the Enclosures. As an alternative in case all Enclosures are gone, you can take either a Green Area or an Animal House. The values stated on Animal Houses and Enclosures tell you how many points you will score at the end of the game.
Tip: This symbol is not present on the starting Park Area tile; you can, therefore, acquire a maximum of three Enclosures as your park is limited to four Park Area tiles. Therefore, you need to remember this and plan your expansions accordingly.
The symbol for a Construction Crew enables a player to take the top card from one of the two stacks of Park Area tiles. The new Park Area Tile is added immediately to your park, adhering to a few rules: You must add it to the park edge to edge and flush-fittingly, and also with the same orientation of the symbols, they need to be upright on all tiles, viewed by the park owner. And you cannot add a new Park Area tile beneath the park entrance side. In the first round, you are not allowed to cover the Construction Crew symbol to receive a new tile, as you have now tiles to use and only receive your first tile in the first round.
It is possible to receive several tiles in one placement turn and this is something you should try to achieve, simply to avoid to be, at some point, being left with no alternatives for placement and have to pass a turn. Passing a turn somewhat spoils the fun. And, unfortunately, it is easy to build badly, so you should try to do that strategically and plan ahead to include future turns.
For phase III of the turn, placement of a Bear Statue, you check first, if you have completely filled an Park Area tile, with only the case of the Pit remaining uncovered. If this is the case, you take the Bear Statue of the highest value and place it on the Pit case. So, the faster you can fill a complete Park Area tile, the more points you score.
It can happen, that you have no tile left in your Personal stock. In this case, you must pass your turn and can only take a Green Area from the supply board for your Personal stock. This, however, ends your turn. Passing your turn is a compulsory action and cannot be chosen voluntarily.
The game ends as soon as a player has covered all four of his Park Area tiles with park tiles. This triggers a final round with one turn for each player, giving all others a chance to complete their parks or score additional points. Then the parks of all players are scored – you add the values of all tiles in your park and the values of all Bear Statues in it. The winner of the game is the player with most points.
The game described so far is the beginner’s version of the game, which is especially well suited to families that have little experience in playing games. If you want to be more challenged, you can expand the player turns by a fourth Phase. Phase IV introduces Achievements to the game, which you must complete to score additional points. As soon as you have completed an Achievement, you take the top tile from the corresponding stack. Point of Information: You can only acquire one scoring tile for an Achievement, even if you could meet the demand more than once. The points scored with Achievements are added to your score at the end of the game.
There are ten different types of Achievements, ranging from easy to difficult. An easy Achievement, for instance, is to have placed three tiles featuring Polar Bears, be it Animal Houses or Enclosures. These tiles do not have to be adjacent, it is enough for them to be somewhere in the park. A rather more difficult Achievement is to have three Enclosures next to each other in his park. The tiles must be adjacent along their side, but it does not matter which animal is featured on the Enclosure, all that is necessary are Enclosure-type tiles.
The Achievements make the game more challenging and also somewhat more strategic, as you must pay a lot more attention to what you place where. Both variants are highly recommended and a lot of fun to play. The only disadvantage of the game for me is the fact that there is very little interaction, as you rather play on your own, one after the other, that is, sequential, than together. If would be nice if the game would be a bit more player to player communication. All the same, the game IS fun to play and an excellent family game.
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Artist: Klemens Franz
Price: ca. 35 Euro
Publisher: Lookout / Mayfair 2017
Genre: Tile placement, shape filling
Users: For families
Rules: de en + pl pt
In-game text: no
Spiel der Spiele 2017 Award
Nice standard topic
Very nice components
Lovely family game
Several levels of difficulty
Ubongo and other shape-filling tile placement games
Zooloretto for topic
Mayfair Games (en), Lacerta (pl), Ludofy (pt)
My rating: 5
Bärenpark reminds me of Ubongo for its filling of given shapes, and is an excellent game for families, as you can play it in several levels of difficulty.
Chance (pink): 0
Tactic (turquoise): 3
Strategy (blue): 3
Creativity (dark blue): 1
Knowledge (yellow): 0
Memory (orange): 0
Communication (red): 0
Interaction (brown): 2
Dexterity (green): 0
Action (dark green): 0