As nature lovers and after Parks, Trekking the World, Meadow and other awesome nature titles, we were very excited to get our hands on Cascadia. With beautiful illustrations and a region being inspired by the Pacific Northwest, also called Cascadia, we were happy to start exploring this game.
How to play.
For the setup place all wildlife tokens in the cloth bag and check the rulebook to see how many tiles you need to include. For two players this is 42 tiles for example. Shuffle the tiles and place them in a stack facedown within easy reach. Then randomly select a wildlife scoring card, one of each animal, and place them close enough for all players to see. Reveal four habitat tiles in a row and place four wildlife tokens underneath forming pairs. Give each player a habitat starting tile and lastly place the nature tokens close by. When each player has places their starting tile in front of them, you are ready to begin.
On your turn, choose one of the four pairs with a wildlife token and habitat tile. If at the moment you are choosing all four of the wildlife tokens are the same, place them aside and draw four new ones from the bag. If there are three of the same tokens, you may choose to draw three new ones. After drawing new wildlife tokens, place the old tokens back in the bag. Normally you have to choose one of the existing combinations on the table. however if you are in possession of a nature token, you can also discard the token to choose any revealed wildlife token in combination with any habitat tile. Or you can discard the token to discard any wildlife tokens and draw new ones to replace them. Nature tokens are earned while placing wildlife tokens in the game.
After you have chosen your habitat tile and wildlife token, you need to place them in your environment. You can place the tile anywhere adjacent to any existing tile in your play area as long as at least one side of the new tile is connected to your environment. You don’t have to match the terrain, but it will give you more points at the end of the game. The wildlife token may be placed on a tile that has a matching icon of the animal on it. Each tile can only hold one wildlife token. If you can’t place a token or in a rare case you choose not to place a wildlife token, place the token back in the bag. If you place a wildlife token on a tile that also has a nature token icon on it, you may take one nature token. After placing your chosen pair in your environment, reveal a new habitat tile and wildlife token on the table.
If there are no face down habitat tiles left to replace the empty spots on the table, the game ends immediately and you can count your score. Most points will be scored of the wildlife scoring cards. On the card itself you can see the goal of the random cards you have picked up, but the rulebook also clarifies how every animal scoring card works. With salmon scoring cards you score points based on salmon runs you have created for example. Bears however like to be in groups and you will score more points if you manage to place a certain amount of bears with each other in your environment. Each animal has four different scoring cards, one more difficult then the other. Other then the scoring cards, each player also scores one point per tile in their largest contiguous terrain type for each of the five terrain types. If you have three forest area’s for example, you score one point per tile in your largest forest area. Do the same for the four other habitats. Lastly the player who has the biggest habitat, will gain bonus points according to the player count. This is also separately scored for each habitat. Any left over nature tokens will score you one point per token as well. The player with the most points, wins the game.
Playthrough of the game.
After the setup, we were ready to create our own Cascadia. We quickly realized there is no way you can place every tile and animal perfectly in your environment in a way you will maximize your score for all five scoring cards. We had a scoring cards for salmon that gave us the most points for a single salmon run, meaning scoring points for maximum seven tiles of salmon. So I started expanding my water area to have space for the fish. But we also had a fox scoring card that needed as many unique animals around the fox as possible. This combined with all the other scoring card, really made a challenge to gain the most points. At the end of the game, we both had made an impressive environment and we both had absolutely no idea who had won until we scored our points. Even though after scoring Tomasz had the most points, we were both still very happy with what we had created.
The gameplay of Cascadia is very smooth and easy. After the first round, you know exactly what to do and then you can think how you can score the most points. Because of the many different scoring cards and combinations, there is a lot of replayability. There are even scenarios you can play and earn achievements. We also really enjoyed creating our own environment and the satisfaction you gain from gaining many points due to good placement. After our first game, we did decide we wanted more tiles when playing with two, simply because the game is so good and relaxing we want it to last longer. The art on the habitat tiles also matches very well and it doesn’t matter how you place the tiles, you will always get a nice looking environment. There was only one tiny detail we thought was pretty strange looking in the game. There are a couple of sandy tiles with no water on it, yet it can contain salmon. This was the only small detail about the game that felt out of place.
Cascadia is a tile placing game with a nature theme inspired by the Pacific Northwest, also called Cascadia. This game is so relaxing and has a lot of depth at the same time. You want to score as many points as you can, but it’s just impossible to get the most points for every challenge. In the meantime, you are creating a nice environment and housing every animal as best you can. The gameplay is very smooth and easy. The game is also quick to learn even to people who don’t play many board games. The art on the habitat tiles match together very well and the tokens add all the color you need without it being to much. The quality of the components is also very good which adds to the fun. Overall we love this light tile placing game and it has visited our kitchen table many times already.