PARKS along the way

So nothing's been going on this week.  Nothing at all.

Good grief, this week generated a lot of pacing in the backyard.  Even though I worked the full week, I've racked up 25 miles since Sunday.

But it also meant I needed to distract myself some nights, too.  Which, for me, means playing boardgames.  And not just boardgames, but SOLO boardgames.

Yes, it's a thing.  A thing I found in February 2019, at which point I fell deeply down the solo boardgaming rabbit hole.  Deep enough that I have an entire bookshelf filled with games, every one of which can be played in the pleasure of my own company.

So, uh, there might be some hiding on other shelves, too...

I had no idea when I got into this hobby almost two years ago that I was preparing for my entertainment needs during a global pandemic.  (Well played, me!)  It's funny, too, that despite the fact that solo gamers prefer their own company while playing boardgames, there is, in fact, quite an active online community where we discuss solo gaming and share photos and opinions and basically obsess together about our cardboard passion.  And as the pandemic continues, I've watched this community expand as people's gaming groups have been suspended and folks are looking for ways to occupy themselves.  There have even been articles written about solo boardgaming as the hobby has taken off (which may or may not feature yours truly).

In case you're wondering, our community is called the 1 Player Guild.  Our tagline?  Together, We Game Alone.  Once I read that, I knew I'd found my people.

So how does this tie into my "walk" towards Kim and Heidi and their "walk/bike" towards me?  I'm glad you asked.  Because it occurred to me that as we're heading toward each other, we're actually passing through or nearby some iconic places, including several of our National Parks.

Which meant it was time to play PARKS!

PARKS box cover (Photo credit: Keymaster Games)

In honor of Heidi's, Kim's, and my trek to meet up somewhere in the middle of the country, I looked through the deck of National Park cards to see if I could find any that we might pass through or nearby as we head towards each other.  Unfortunately a couple I really wanted to find weren't in the deck, like Chiricahua National Monument or White Sands National Park, but I did find Saguaro National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Gateway Arch National Park, and Cuyahoga River National Park.  Conveniently two in the Southwest for me, and two in the Midwest for Kim and Heidi.

PARKS along the way

I decided to set up the game such that I would have the opportunity to try to visit all four of these National Parks over the course of the four seasons of the game.  Sure, that's not quite playing by the rules, but hey, the beauty of solo boardgaming is being able to apply house rules to make it the game I want to play!  It's only me I'm trying to please, after all.

I have to say, this is one of the more beautiful games you can bring to the table -- the artwork for each Park is absolutely gorgeous, plus the tiles and tokens are well made and provide a delightfully tactile experience (a huge plus, particularly to the solo boardgamer).

As it turned out, I managed to visit all four of the Parks I wanted to before the Park Rangers removed them from the selection and replaced them with others.  So I view that as a success!  Plus I somehow managed to visit Denali National Park at the end, too.

I'm not sure how Denali National Park fits into my walking narrative...

All told I ended up scoring 18 points, which, when looking at the scoring conditions in the rule book, means I "missed some great Sites" and need to "Grab a map and get back out there!"

18 points = a less than stellar performance

Will do!  All of this I think demonstrates the beauty of solo boardgaming -- I can play as many times as I want (or stop mid-game and put it away), tweak the rules to make the game enjoyable for me, and take as much time as I desire to analyze my choices before playing my turn.

Now I need to scan my shelves and figure out how to incorporate another solo game on my trek.  I have a lot of space-themed games...hmm, maybe it's time to get creative with my walking narrative...

P.S.  The 2020 People's Choice Top 200 Solo Games (200-1) just wrapped up.  If you're curious to know what's popular amongst the solo-gaming crowd and read all our comments about each game, check it out!


  1. Beautiful game! Are solo board games only for one, or can some also be used more than one player?

    1. I agree, @FingerRockElegy, this game is gorgeous! Generally speaking most solo games can also be played multiplayer, although there are a few that are solo only. For instance, PARKS is for 1-5 players. I think of all the games on my shelves only a dozen (or fewer) are strictly solo.


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