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How To Play Barenpark


Build your own little bear-zoo with Barenpark by Phil Walker-Harding and Lookout games. Have fun strategically placing tiles, trying to snatch the higher scoring ones.

How To Play

First set up the game board by (patiently) placing all the tiles that are divided in animal houses, enclosures (higher scoring tiles) and green areas (playground, food streets, rivers and toilets).

After, choose a park area (player board) and place the spare ones next to the game board as well as the bear statues (also worth points).

The first player starts by placing a toilet, according to what they cover they will get to pick another tile. Let’s get through the icons:

- If you cover a cement mixer you can pick an animal house of your choice

- If you cover a wheelbarrow, you can pick a green area of your choice

- If you cover the construction crew, you take another park area

- If you cover an excavator/digger you can pick a bear enclosure of your choice

Remember! Never cover the pit as that is the space for your bear statue once you completed the park area.

The second player starts by placing a playground and picking new tiles, or not, according to what icon they do or don’t cover.

To cover the park area, you must place tiles down and pick up others once you cover an icon. Newly placed tiles must always touch another tile previously placed and if you do not cover any icon you don’t pick at the end of your go, you must wait for your next go to only pick up a green area without being able to place it (if your supply is empty).

The game ends when one of the players covers 4 park areas entirely. The other players get to finish the round.

Scoring is pretty easy as you add up the numbers on the tiles in your zoo.

What do we think

We picked up this game in a shop far away from home, we knew nothing about it and just asked to the sale assistant for advice since there were too many board games to choose from and according to our one-year-old we spent way too long to look at them.

The game is quite enjoyable as it is very easy to pick up and teach to people that have never played it before. It can get extremely competitive but doesn’t always leave room for strategy.

For example, Scott loves it because he just goes with the flow, doesn’t think of a strategy, only looks at filling the tiles but somehow always ends up with the high scoring tiles.

He doesn’t even look at other players park areas, just sees a tile that fits (sometimes without even noticing the score) and snatches it!

Whilst Roberta, who always thinks 3 steps ahead and loves a strategy, never seems to get to pick the high scoring tiles in time! She always tries to cover the cement mixers to get the bear houses and the diggers for the bears enclosures and then maybe if by covering that icon she could… NO!!! Strategies this time never work!

And this, my friends, is why she despises the game! If you can’t get some high scores at the beginning, you will always end up chasing your opponent and still being short a few points, there is very little chance to pick up once you fall behind.

On the other hand, Scott strolls along it all with no worry, ease and feeling relaxed, as once you get in the lead and keep playing safe, more often than not you will come out victorious.

The game caused a couple of arguments because Roberta would strop about it being unfair and not enjoyable.

The artwork is quite cute, with all those different species of bears scuttling around.

Gobbi bears have a yellow rocky desert, contrasting nicely with koalas (even if they are not bears) and their nice green leafy trees.

Polar bears have water filled enclosures that are blue and specked with ice and finally pandas have a grey background filled small bamboo forests.

We loved that the game board had a kiddy project look about it, with cute doodles a pencil and rubber printed on it, but man, setting it up takes a long time! If playing with 4 people there is 108 pieces to set out before you can start playing.

The box is very underwhelming as there are 3 bits of cardboard that fit diagonally, and supposedly divide the pieces, although we are still confused on how to do this neatly, as the plastic bags get a bit puffy.

So, our opinions here are contrasting for once, Scott wants to keep the game and would like to play it more often, Roberta wants to sell it at the next Handycon and never see it again!

Let us know what you think!

Until next time