Trekking the World
- Designer: Charlie Bink
- Publisher: Underdog Games
- Players: 2-5
- Age: 10+
- Time: 45-60 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Underdog Games
- Disclaimer – while I received a free prototype copy of the game to play in advance of the Kickstarter campaign, I received no other benefits (i.e. money) to play the game or write the review.
Trekking the World is a game that should be hitting Kickstarter later this week (or at least that was the original plan – given the way the current market is swooning; there may be some delay on the part of Underdog Games…). But, in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, this may be the only way that I’ll be seeing different parts of the world for quite some time… I have already had two trips canceled, and given the current climate, my annual trip to Essen appears to be in jeopardy (even though it is still seven months away!) This game is meant to be the spiritual successor to Trekking the National Parks, a very popular game from 2014; that was re-released in 2018.
In Trekking the World, players will span the globe, visiting up to 48 different destinations on their travels. The board shows a map of the world, with the six non-ice continents having eight destination each highlighted on the map. A bonus token is assigned randomly to each continent. Each of these locations has its own card in the card deck. The destination deck is shuffled and a display of four cards is laid out, with 5vp bonus tokens over the rightmost card and 3vp tokens over the next to last card on the right.
Souvenir cubes are randomly placed, one on each destination. The four “most souvenir cube” bonus tiles are laid next to the board; they will be collected as soon as a player has at least two cubes in the matching color. Each player has an individual player board (that looks like a suitcase) where you will keep your souvenir cubes organized by color.
Two journey cards are randomly chosen – and placed in Siberia. Finally, the deck of Trek cards is shuffled, and each player gets a starting hand of 3 cards. These cards have two components: a colored icon and a number. Each of these components is used differently in the game, and they are never combined. Each player chooses an empty airport space to start the game (there is one airport per continent).
Once the game is set up, play goes in a number of rounds. On a turn, the active player first moves. Then the active player takes one of three action choices: Draw 2 cards, Take a Tour, Take a Journey. Then, the next player goes. This continues until either five of the continents are fully explored OR one player has managed to take tours of 5 different destinations.
To move, first you have to option of flying. If you are standing on an airport at the start of your turn, you may first fly freely to any other empty airport space. Next, take you regular movement where you play cards from your hand, only looking at the numbers printed on the card(s). Sum up the numbers on all cards played and then move your meeple exactly that number of spaces on the map. You may not move through a space occupied by another player and you may not go through a space more than once on a turn. At the end of your move, if there is a souvenir cube on that space, you collect it and place it in your briefcase. If you have two or more cubes in the color you picked up, AND you have more cubes in that color than any other player, collect the “most souvenirs” tile of that color. If you hold on to this at the end of the game, it will be worth VPs (9 to 12) at the end of the game. Also, if you managed to collect the final cube in a continent, you get to take the bonus tile for the continent; it is worth between 2 and 6 VP, and its value remains hidden until the final scoring.
You must move if possible. So, if you have a card in your hand, you will almost certainly have to play at least one and then move somewhere. If you have no cards or if every possible permutation of your legal moves is blocked by other players, then you don’t move.
After moving, you take the chosen action for your turn:
Draw two cards – Draw a card from the tableau of 4 face up trek cards or take mystery meat from the top of the deck. Refill the display if necessary and then choose again. There is no limit to the number of cards you can hold in your hand.
Take a Tour – In setup, we placed 4 destination cards in a row near the board. Each of these destination cards (in addition to the wonderful art on the front, and a nice descriptive/educational paragraph on the back) has a set of trek icons at the bottom along with its VP value. You can visit a destination if your meeple is standing on the matching location on the board AND if you can play the matching icons from your hand. If so, pick up the card and place it on your player board. If you were able to visit one of the two rightmost destinations, take the appropriate 5vp or 3vp bonus chip as well. Once you have collected your card, slide all the cards to the right and refill from the deck in the leftmost position.
Journey – In setup, two different Journey cards were placed over Siberia. Each of these offers a unique rule which is effect for the entire game. (There are six of each variety; so this gives you 36 different combinations possible when you play). If you can discard a matching pair of icons from your hand, you can use either of the Journey cards – these may allow you to move and then draw, take a Tour at a discount, gain Vps, move to an airport, or any number of other strategic possibilities. The Journey cards do not change for the whole game, so you have a bit of time to figure out how to best use them to your advantage.
Again, the game continues until either 5 of the 6 continents has had all their cubes claimed OR if any player has collected 5 Tour cards. Then the game moves into final scoring:
- Destination cards – score VPs as written in the bottom right of each collected card
- VP Tokens
- Region bonus tokens are revealed and added to the total
- Souvenir sets – on your briefcase, score 5/10/18/25 VPs for your rightmost full column of souvenir cubes
- Most Souvenir tiles – if you own the tile at the end of the game, score for it.
The player with the most points wins. Ties go to the player with the most Souvenir cubes.
So far, I have enjoyed my plays of Trekking the World. I did not ever have a chance to play the original, so I really can’t comment or compare it to its “spiritual predecessor”. But, taken on its own, this game is a nice light traveling adventure. The rules are quite simple, and thus far, everyone that I have introduced to this game has picked it up within just a few turns. Yet, which it is an easy game to pick up, there is plenty of game space here to make strategic plays – whether it be racing to a particular spot to get a particular cube or blocking someone from taking a preferred route to a location. I have even ended my move on a destination space that I couldn’t collect only to prevent other players from being able to land there on their own turn. I have also seen players delaying a cube pickup to try to get a continental bonus chit for themselves instead of gifting it to another player. If you are on an airport space, you actually might be able to reach 75% of all the spaces on the board, so there is a lot of tactical strategy to be had here. There is definitely enough meat on the bones here for a veteran gamer, and more depth to the game than I thought would be here.
The Journey cards help add a little strategic dimension to the game. Each game will have a slightly different feel to it as these Journey actions will generally be different. There are some nifty plays that can sometimes be created by using some of these rule-breaking cards.
The artwork on the cards is absolutely fantastic. While I have a prototype set, I do believe that I have been given mostly final art, and I’m really liking it. In addition, getting a chance to read the descriptive paragraph on the back of the destination cards that I collect really gives me the sense of traveling around the world – again, something that I am not sure when I’ll be able to do again, so it’s nice to be able to do it in this virtual sense.
So, I’m not sure if the KS campaign is going to happen or not. But, either way, I wanted to write about the game now because it might still help gamers decide if it is something they are interested in or not. I hope that this game succeeds whenever the campaign goes live as it is a solid family weight game with a theme that is appealing to me.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor