Could Bärenpark be the best game about filling a park with bears?

Now that is a mighty fine bear statue. A fitting tribute to Nigel No-paws, the armless polar bear who tragically drowned a week before the grand opening.

In Bärenpark, the aim is to construct the park of your dreams! Well, assuming your dreams are packed full of bears. I know mine are! More specifically, the aim of the game is to build a better park than any of your friends by placing beautifully illustrated tiles. Just like a real life bear park builder person!

Bärenpark is a fantastically simple game to learn. Each turn you put down a tile onto your park, you pick up you next tile(s), and then you check to see whether you’ve earnt yourself a brand spanking new bear statue.

Different tiles earn you different amounts of points. The big unique enclosures get you the most points, with the regular bear houses earning a little bit less. No bears on your tile? Then no points for you! Once someone fills up their fourth park board, everyone finishes their turn and the player who’s park earns the most points wins the game.

Where you place your tiles onto your player board determines which tiles you can then take. Green wheelborrows will allow you to pick up toilets, rivers, streets, and playgrounds. Now these aren’t worth any points but they are handy for filling in gaps in your board and every time you fill up a board you earn yourself a bear statue. A white cement mixer will get you a bear house and if you place your tile over an orange digger you’ll be able to get one of the unique bear enclosures. Finally, if you build over a construction crew, you can add a new player board to your park. If you manage to fill every space on one of your player boards, you can grab yourself a lovely bear statue and stick it in a pit.

If this all seems a bit too simple, the box also comes with a big pile of optional objectives which you can throw into the game to spice things up a bit. To be honest, it doesn’t add a huge amount to the game, but it gives you something more to aim for if you don’t feel challenged enough by the base game.

But whats it like to play? Well Bärenpark may not scratch that hard-core strategy itch for those Twilight Imperium fans out there. There’s also not much in the way of player interaction, beyond taking that one enclosure that will fit perfectly into your mates park before they can get their grubby mitts on it. That said, there’s a lot to like here. I love the theme and the artwork compliments it perfectly. It reminds me of playing Zoo Tycoon all those years ago but without all of the rubbish non-bear animals. This is a solid little tile placement game and the simplicity of the rules makes is a beautifully accessible game that I’m very happy to have as a part of my collection.

I would definitely recommend this game, both for bear fans and those just looking for a a nice simple game, either for the start of the night, or to introduce someone new to games, or just to relax with in front of the telly.