Cascadia

RRP: £39.99

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RRP £39.99

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Cascadia is a puzzly tile-laying and token-drafting game featuring the habitats and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.In the game, you take turns building out your own terrain area and populating it with wildlife. You start with three hexagonal habitat tiles (with five types of habitat in the game), and on a turn you choose a new habitat tile that’s paired with a wildlife toke…
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-AEG7098 Availability Restock Expected
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Awards

Golden Pear

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • A dual-layered puzzle
  • Working on your own little ecosystem
  • Beautiful artwork
  • Nice components

Might Not Like

  • Mild hate-drafting at times
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Description

Cascadia is a puzzly tile-laying and token-drafting game featuring the habitats and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.

In the game, you take turns building out your own terrain area and populating it with wildlife. You start with three hexagonal habitat tiles (with five types of habitat in the game), and on a turn you choose a new habitat tile that's paired with a wildlife token, then place that tile next to your other ones and place the wildlife token on an appropriate habitat. (Each tile depicts 1-3 types of wildlife from the five types in the game, and you can place at most one tile on a habitat.) Four tiles are on display, with each tile being paired at random with a wildlife token, so you must make the best of what's available — unless you have a nature token to spend so that you can pick your choice of each item.

Ideally you can place habitat tiles to create matching terrain that reduces fragmentation and creates wildlife corridors, mostly because you score for the largest area of each type of habitat at game's end, with a bonus if your group is larger than each other player's. At the same time, you want to place wildlife tokens so that you can maximize the number of points scored by them, with the wildlife goals being determined at random by one of the three scoring cards for each type of wildlife. Maybe hawks want to be separate from other hawks, while foxes want lots of different animals surrounding them and bears want to be in pairs. Can you make it happen?

Cascadia review

Do you like tile-laying? Do you like puzzles? How about animals? Well, this is your lucky day. Cascadia is like a cake, bear with me one minute while I explain. Cascadia has a base of Carcassonne-esque tile-laying topped with a layer of animal-arranging icing. Managing these two elements together will decide whether your cake is light, fluffy and full of points or burnt and full of pointless elk.

Gameplay

Points, Biomes, Animals And Patterns

At the start of a game of Cascadia, you will randomly select a scoring card for each of the games five animals. Each animal has a set of cards with different ways they can score and for your first game, the 'A' cards are recommended. It is nice to be able to have slightly different scoring conditions each time you play. I also got a set of Kickstarter scoring cards too from Zatu which was nice.

After that stuff is sorted everyone playing gets a starter tile, made up of three normal tiles and you are just about ready to go. Cascadia, on the surface, feels and plays very simply, however, bubbling underneath is a puzzle that could be pondered for hours upon end. As I mentioned earlier, it's two puzzles in one that must be navigated in conjunction, like a tandem being ridden in two separate directions.

Cascadia components

Choices And Mitigation

Above your play area, there is a 'shop' of sorts made up of biome tiles and animal tokens. On your turn, you simply select one pair of tile and token and go about fitting it into your little ecosystem trying to fulfil as many of the animal requirements as you can. You will not only score for each of the five animal cards but also for your largest area of each type. The tiles you choose are a mixture of all one terrain type or a mixture of two. Picking a tile and animal combo that is right for you is a very juicy decision indeed, every single turn.

You do have a bit of mitigation here too. If you place an animal on what is called a Key tile, which is noted by the fact it is all one terrain, has an arrow on top and has a Nature Token symbol on it, you will get a Nature Token. You can use these tokens at any time to take any combination of tile and token available, instead of the pairs laid out or wipe any number of animal discs back into the bag. Also, if three identical animal discs are in the shop the active player can wipe them for free. I feel there is just enough choice and ways to mitigate randomness to make every turn feel worthwhile and important.

Components

Beauty In Simplicity

In Cascadia, there are not many components to talk about really, what is there is very functional, beautiful and needed. There is no fluff, over-elaborate nonsense or massive miniatures anywhere to be seen. You have cards, tiles, tokens and animal discs. Everything is well designed, looks lovely and made to a very high standard. The cards feel quality, the tiles are thick and the printed animal discs are a nice weight.

The graphic design on the tiles, cards and discs is very attractive. The animal photos are gorgeous, the terrain tiles are bright, bold and very clear and the animal discs are also very bold and clean looking. Cascadia leaves no option for confusion in the components with very little symbology, clear, precise art and high-quality design. It's all rather elegant, in a classically simple way.

Cascadia counters

Final Thoughts

We really enjoyed the puzzle that Cascadia offers. While it will not be everyone's cup of tea, if you like tile-laying and puzzles it is definitely worth your time. While you are working single-handedly on your ecosystem, there is a small amount player interaction when selecting what to take on your turn. There is a little hate-drafting now and again, I'm looking at you Brian, nicking all the salmon! I personally don't mind that at all, it gets people around the table talking and laughing.

There is a decent single-player mode, achievements to unlock, scenarios to try and for the price you pay, you get a lot of game and variety for your money. You can mix up the scoring using different cards and every game does feel slightly different depending on what comes out of the bag. When I need a little game that allows me to ponder, look at nice components and stunning animal art, Cascadia is up there with the best of them.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • A dual-layered puzzle
  • Working on your own little ecosystem
  • Beautiful artwork
  • Nice components

Might not like

  • Mild hate-drafting at times