We first came across Trekking the National Parks a few years ago at our favorite convention, Phoenix Fan Fusion (previously known as Phoenix Fan Fest and Phoenix Comic Con). Back then, it was an award-winning self-published game by Charlie Bink, but it looked like a good family game that would be fun to play with our eldest when he aged up just a bit, so we grabbed a copy. We found it was a great game that had enough familiarity to Ticket to Ride that it was easy enough for players familiar with that game to catch on, but it still had its own unique take. When an opportunity to get my hands on a review copy of the sequel Trekking the World from Underdog Games in anticipation of its Kickstarter Launch came up, I was quick to snatch up the opportunity.
What is Trekking the World?
Trekking the World is a family fun board game for 2-5 players ages 10+ and takes about 30-60 minutes to play. In the game, players work to become the most experienced traveler as they visit world famous destinations, take tours, and gather up souvenirs. It is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. There is only one purchase tier for $40 and includes a Kickstarter exclusive promo-pack (the game without the exclusive pack will later retail for $50). It has an estimated delivery date of September 2020.
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
Trekking the World Components
Note: My review is based on access to a prototype, so pictures may not reflect final quality and are subject to change. I have been told from Underdog Games that the markers for the Trekkers I was sent will actually be meeples in the final copy. Overall, I will say that when I compare these components to the ones from Trekking the National Parks, that they feel very close to final quality.
Trekking the National Parks contains the following:
- 1 Map Board
- 1 Bag
- 5 Trekkers
- 5 Suitcase Maps
- 5 player Aid Cards
- 1 Score Pad
- 48 Destination Cards
- 12 Journey Cards (6 A Cards and 6 B Cards)
- 75 Trek Cards
- 48 Souvenir Cubes
- 10 Region Bonus Tokens
- 30 VP Tokens
- 4 Most Souvenir Tiles
- 1 Instruction Booklet
My first impression is that the components are solid, quality, and uphold the expectations players of Trekking the National Parks will have.
The Map Board is larger than traditional game boards and has a more rounded shape but still folds nicely into a standard box. The larger size does ensure that there’s plenty of space to play on without knocking around other pieces. It’s a nicely thick material that should have a lot of endurance to last over many games. The art is highly appealing and everything is clearly labeled for ease of playing. I’m a big fan of the board.
The Suitcase Mats and all of the cards are playing card thickness. The art is also appealing, except for the Destination Cards. The art of the Destination Cards isn’t just appealing, it’s absolutely gorgeous with beautiful pictures of famous destinations that look Instagram travel account inspired. The backs of the Destination Cards actually give background information about the location which adds a definite educational layer to them.
The other components are also very well made. The bag looks to be a faux leather and is nicer than what is sent with most board games I’ve seen. The meeples will be made of wood, as are the Souvenir Cubes. The Score Pad is a nice addition to have when there’s a lot of math in the final tally amount. The Victory Point and Regional Bonus Tokens are all a nice thick cardboard too.
Overall, you can expect quality pieces with clear time and effort put into both design and art.
How to Play Trekking the World
If you have played either edition of Trekking the National Parks, you will certainly feel some similarities between the two games in terms of gameplay. At the same time, Trekking the World is also very much its own game.
The goal of Trekking the World is to be the most experienced traveler as determined by Victory Points that you can earn in a variety of ways including by earning Destinations Cards, Victory Point Tokens, Souvenir Cubes, as well as special Souvenir Tiles and Region Bonuses.
Note: Depending on the number of players, there are some small setup differences based on if you have 2 players in your game or 3-5 players.
If you follow the setup steps, setting up the game isn’t too intimidating, especially with the nicely labeled diagram included in the Instruction Book. Setup uses the following steps:
- Place the Map Board in the center of your play area.
- Each Player selects a Trekker and Suitcase Mat of matching color. Flip the Suitcase Mat to the side that reflects how many Players your game has.
- Return a certain number of Souvenir Cubes to the box based on player count as described. The remaining cubes go in the bag and are mixed up and randomly placed on each destination. Note that some destinations only get Souvenir Cubes if you have a certain number of Players. These will be marked at (3+) or (4+).
- Place the 4 Most Souvenir Tiles next to the Map and flip them to the side that matches the player count.
- Randomly select 6 of the Regional Bonus Tokens without revealing their value and place them in their designated spaces on the Map Board.
- Shuffle all of the Destination Cards and place them face down near the board (the backside has the text). Take the top four and line them in a row to the right of the deck.
- Place the pile of 5VP Tokens in a pile above the rightmost Destination Card. The 3VP Tokens go in a pile above the second rightmost Destination Card.
- Decide which Journey Cards to use. For the first game, it is recommended to use A: Exchange Rate and B: Catch Me if You Can. These cards have designated spots on the upper right of the Game Board.
- Shuffle the Trek Cards and deal three cards to each player. Players should keep their cards secret. The remaining cards are set next to the Map Board with four Trek Cards face up in a row beside the deck.
This is one of those games where the play mechanic is actually pretty simple, but the choices and strategies you employ is what really makes the game. Pick a Player to start and then turns go clockwise. Each turn is made up of two actions: Move and Choose.
Starting and Airports
Players may start the game on any Airport of choice. If they start their turn on an Airport then they can move to any unoccupied Airport as a free action.
A Player must move on their turn unless they have no Trek Cards or are completely blocked. To move, a Player announces their Destination and reveals the Trek Cards they hold that equal the EXACT number of connections they need to make that move. If there is a Souvenir Cube on their final Destination, they may claim it. Used Trek Cards get placed in a Discard Pile.
Players may not use a single connection more than once in a move or move through a connection occupied by another Player (including Airports).
Souvenir Cube: If a Player gets a Souvenir Cube they place it on their Suitcase Mat starting on the left side. For any color, the first Player to fill the slot with the star may claim the matching Most Souvenir Tile. They keep this tile unless another Player steals it by gaining more Souvenir Cubes of that color than they have.
Souvenir Tile: If you get the last Souvenir Tile from a colored region, you get that region’s Bonus Token. Claim the token and place it face down near your suitcase. You can look at it, but other Players do not get to see it until Scoring.
After the Move Phase, the player goes into the Choose Phase and picks one of three actions: Draw Two, Take a Tour, or Journey.
Draw Two: The Player draws two Trek Cards and adds them to their hand (there is no hand size limit). The cards can be chosen from the face up row or blindly from the top of the deck. If a Trek Card is taken from the row, replace it with the topmost Deck Card. If the Trek Card Deck runs out, shuffle the Discard Pile and make a new Trek Card Deck.
Take a Tour: To “Take a Tour” the Player’s Trekker must be at a location that matches one of the revealed Destination Cards. The player must then spend the Trek Cards indicated on the Destination Card to “Take a Tour.” The number value on the Trek Cards does not count. If a Destination Card requires two Red Camera cards, it must be two separate Trek Cards, not one Trek Card with a value of two on it. Discard the spent Trek Cards and claim the Destination Card. If the Destination Cards have a Victory Point Token above it, claim one of those tokens. Then all the remaining Destination Cards each move one spot to the right and a new one is taken from the face down pile and placed in the leftmost spot. If the 5VP Tokens run out, move the remaining 3VP token to their space. If all of the tokens run out, no more can be rewarded for the remainder of the game.
Journey: To activate a Journey Card you must spend two color matching Trek Cards from your hand with matching icons. Like with “Taking a Tour,” the number value on the cards mean nothing here. Preform the actions on the Journey Card from top to bottom. You can skip one of the actions if you cannot complete it or choose not to. Do not remove the Journey Card.
The end of the game is triggered when either 5 of the 6 Region Bonuses are claimed or a Player claims their fifth Destination Card. The Player who triggered the game end finishes their turn and then scoring immediately occurs.
Players now reveal all face down Destination Cards and Tokens. The Score Pad is used to help keep track of points. Players receive points for the following:
- A full set of Souvenirs Cubes (one of each color) earns you points. If you have more than one full set, use only the point value under your rightmost complete set.
- Most Souvenir Tiles Collected
- Region Bonus Token Collected
- Victory Point Tokens Collected
- Destination Cards Toured
The Player with the most points wins. In case of a tie, the Player with the most Souvenir Cubes wins. If there is still a tie, the tied Players all win.
Why You Should Play Trekking the World
Family games can be a tricky thing to do well. You want a game simple enough to play with the kids, but engaging enough that adults will enjoy playing it on their own. Underdog Games manages to do just that, creating a game easy enough to teach to kids and casual gamers, but with enough critical thinking and strategy to appeal to more experienced gamers.
The game itself is made of beautiful, quality components that should last through many years of play. The details like the text and artwork of the Destination Cards in particular make it obvious that this game was a real labor of love from its creators, and well worth the six-year wait for a Trekking the National Parks sequel.
Setup looks like it will be complicated but the step-by-step directions and diagram make the process go faster than you might have expected. The different cards are all distinct enough to keep from getting easily mixed up as well. Clean up went pretty quickly too which is a nice feature for any family game that kids may attempt on their own.
Gameplay has echoes of Ticket to Ride which helps it to catch on, but it is very much its own game as well. With each turn being made up of two basic steps, it’s not that hard to teach, especially to kids and casual gamers. The real challenge is in how you go about scoring points because plenty of different routes can take you to victory. Will you snatch up the Destination Cards with the highest bonuses? Aim to grab as many souvenirs and the bonuses as possible? Will you sweep in to grab those Region Bonus tokens? There’s a little bit of luck with relation to what Trek Cards you get and what Souvenir Cubes are available where to help even things out a bit between experienced and newer gamers, but there is enough strategy to keep things interesting. Our game had final scores close enough to each other that the victory wasn’t locked in until the final move. I think the recommended age of 10+ is pretty close. Our nine-year-old can play, but he’s a pretty decent gamer at this point and has been eagerly playing the full version of Ticket to Ride for awhile. If you have a slightly younger kid who can play Ticket to Ride or can play other games in that 10+ range, they should be good for this one too.
Overall, Trekking the World is a gorgeous, beautifully put together game with quality pieces that should appeal to families as well as both casual and experienced gamers alike. Fans of Trekking the National Parks will find it to be a worthy sequel, while new fans will probably find themselves wanting to grab the original game too.
The price point of $40 is well worth it, when $50 still would have been perfectly fair for a game of this quality. If you’re new to this game series, and waiting to get your copy in September is too long for you, consider picking up a copy of Trekking the National Parks via Amazon or Underdog Games after you make a pledge for Trekking the World here.