Dale Yu: Preview of Waypoints


Well, veteran readers of the blog will know that I’m still a fan of the Roll and Write genre, and I’ve been a big fan of Postmark Games releases in the past.  This small company specializes in print-and-play RAWs, offering them up on Kickstarter.  Previous releases include Voyages and Aquamarine.  Aquamarine was actually just recently named the 2022 print and play game of the year in the BoardGameGeek awards, so I know that I’m not the only one who really enjoys these pen and paper challenges from Postmark.

The third release in this series is Waypoints – live on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/postmarkgames/waypoints

In this game, you will “Battle the elements as you hike through a landscape of mountains, valleys, lakes and woodlands. Climb vast summits or take to the rivers, marking your route and recording your experiences as you go.”  We were sent an advance print-and-play copy of the first map (generally multiple maps are included in the KS campaigns), and on a recent afternoon, we took it for a few spins around the gaming table. 

Each player gets their own scoring sheet and will require a writing instrument.  I started with a pencil but soon switched to a colored felt-tip pen.  One of the four end-game goals is chosen, and all players make a note of this on the bottom of their sheet.  A d6 is rolled, and the number of the roll determines the starting point for all players – find the campsite of matching number on the sheet and circle it.

The game will take place over four rounds, each representing a hike in the park; represented on your scoring sheet in something that looks like a topographic map with multiple waypoints denoted by an orange circle and icon above it: campsites, birds, bears, rabbits, mountaintops, trig points, lookout sites and gear caches.  As with most maps, there are also horizontal and vertical grid lines.  There are also little lakes and woodland areas scattered about the landscape.

The bottom of the sheet has a bunch of lines where you can track the progress of your hike, circling things which you have visited or taken a photo of.  As you circle these things, you will score points or gain access to equipment to make your hike better/easier.  In the bottom right, you find an area where you can track the water bottles you have filled and also to note when you have drank said water.

Each round/hike is managed with a weather bar on one side of the sheet.  At the start of a turn, anyone rolls the d6 and all players count forward that number of spaces on the current weather strip, circling the space noted on the track.  The number in that space tells you how many movement points you get this turn (note – all players should be on the same weather space and get the same base movement; be sure to confirm that everyone is on the same space of the weather track).  If you reach or exceed the end of the weather track, simply circle the last space and know that this turn will be the final turn of this particular hike. 

Now all players decide if they are going to move or rest.  If you rest, no movement is made this turn and you magically get a bottle of water (maybe you stood still and collected dew all day).  If you move, you plan a move on the map, counting one movement point for each map grid line and each topographical line crossed on your path.  You can meander as freely as you want, and you will get bonuses if you enter a lake (free water) or a woodland area (circle on any three of the animal tracks) of the first time in this game.  You are not obligated to use all the movement points allotted by the weather, but you will not get anything back if you do not use them all.

Movement must go from one waypoint to another waypoint.  If you cannot reach a waypoint, you may not move part way.  If you need to add additional movement points, you can expend a water for each extra point you need.  Wherever you stop, you mark an appropriate mark in the scoring chart at the bottom of the sheet.

  • Bird, bear or rabbit – circle the next space on the appropriate track, if you circle a piece of gear, you unlock it and can use said gear on a later turn by crossing thru that circle
  • Mountain – take the hundreds digit of the mountain height and fill in the next space on the mountain track.  If the space tells you to x2 or x3 the number, do so.
  • Lookout (binoculars) – circle a camera and immediately take a picture (circle) a waypoint in the same/orthogonally adjacent map square, scoring that thing as if you actually traveled there
  • Gear cache (compass) – circle a backpack which can be used at any point later as one of the three gear bits: kayak (to travel along the river), Glider (fly to a waypoint from a mountain top), coat (add 3 to a weather space worth 1 or 2).
  • Trig point – these score ever increasing bonus points

If there are still spaces in the weather track for this hike, take another turn.  If this is the end of the hike, you must take a minute to log your hike in your journal.  There are four different possible journal entries, each rewarding a different criteria.  Based on the events of this hike, players can each choose any unscored journal choice and apply the scoring criteria.  If you ended this particular hike in a campsite waypoint, you get a bonus and can double your journal score for this hike.  After you have scored the journal entry, be sure to take the two bottles of water as shown at the end of the weather line.

At the end of the fourth hike, the game ends.  All players now calculate the bonus scoring for the end-game criteria chosen in game setup.  Now, the scores are tabulated in the bottom line of the sheet, and the player with the most points wins.  There is no tiebreaker.

My thoughts on the game

Waypoints, like the other Postmark roll and write games, is a fairly complicated game – giving the player plenty to think about and definitely moving towards a half hour or more in playtime.  While we’ve only have a single map to play with, it has not yet felt same-y.  Each game starts in a random campsite, and depending on which end-game bonus is chosen, the whole game will have an overall different feel as you will be trying to accomplish something slightly different – whether it is touching every lake on the map or crossing the river over every bridge.

Like many RAW games that I like, it is not entirely obvious what is the optimal play on any given turn. Every waypoint moves you toward some sort of reward (whether points or gear), and while there is obviously benefit to specializing in any given type of waypoint; the waypoints are spread around the map to such a degree that you must stop at other things along the way. 

Getting the different types of gear can be quite useful – each of them can really turn an average turn into a great turn.  You can also get gear from the caches, where you get the wildcard backpack – but there are no points from the gear line.  If you get the gear from the animal lines, you will also move towards the circles that score points.

At the end of each hike, there are a number of things to watch out for.  First, note that the movement on the last turn of a hike is always only 2 spaces.  Make sure that you can get where you want for the final move of the hike.  You can always use water to move further, and a coat will help you turn that 2 into a 5.  If you’re on a mountaintop, you might be stuck as you’ll have plenty of topographical lines to cross on the way down!

It is always a decent idea to consider going to a campsite as this will allow you to double the journal score for that hike; but you will also lose out on making a mark in any other scoring line – as campsites do not provide any other benefit.  Thus far in my limited experience, getting a double bonus for the journal entry is generally better than anything you can get on another scoring line; but every game is different and I’m sure that there are plenty of exceptions to this statement.

While you play Waypoints, be sure to know that you are playing simultaneous solitaire, it is nice to have others at the table and you can at least feel a bit of joy when you watch your friends pull at their hair or groan when they struggle to find the right move.  My games have been mostly quiet thinky games, and we’ve found it useful for everyone to say “Done” out loud so we know when it’s time to roll the die again.  There can be so much thinking and planning that sometimes we find that we are waiting un-necessarily as people are just taking the time to examine and re-examine the map to figure out where they can go on the next turn.

The artwork on the game sheet is great, though I find that I can’t see my marks on the map with a pencil.  That’s why I’ve moved to using a thicker felt tip pen which stands out much better for me.  Of course, my ever worsening eyesight is an issue with almost all games, so others may not have the same issue.  

If you are interested in a challenging roll and write, Waypoints is a great choice.  If the campaign is like the previous two, the entry costs are low, and you won’t have to worry about fulfillment issues as you’ll get everything you need electronically!  Postmark Games remains one of the premier publishers of the RAW genre, and I encourage anyone who likes RAWs to give it a shot.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Mark Jackson (2 plays): I play the excellent Postmark Games as solo games – and in that context, they work brilliantly. I’ve laminated copies of all the previous maps (5 from Voyages and 4 from Aquamarine) that I can tuck in my laptop case along with a dry-erase pen and 3 dice in order to play pretty much wherever I go.

Waypoints is another high quality entry for Postmark… as Dale noted, the map is attractive and the game has built-in variety just by changing the starting points and the goals. I look forward to more maps coming out over time – since that’s the model they’ve used for both previous games.

My only concern is that it’s easy to make a mistake about how many lines you cross – so I’m really looking forward to laminating maps and playing with a dry-erase marker, where it will be easier to correct my drawing.

Ratings from other Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it… Dale Y, Mark Jackson
  • I like it…
  • Neutral…
  • Not for me…

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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