1-4 players | 30-45 minutes | from 10 years Czech, without text
I admit that the Cascade board somehow escaped under the radar. I found out about it practically only with the release of its Czech version, and in everything that I didn’t like very much. I was going through a crisis of an experienced player.
I had big lengthy strategy games up to my neck and I needed to relax with something smaller, more accessible and more enjoyable. With this request, I approached Mindok and I was offered the Cascade. And better game are in a given situation perhaps could not get on the table.
Cascade is a beautifully crafted, brisk, clever, yet undemanding family game about building a complex network of biomes in the title region, which extends somewhere in northwestern North America, as the first page of the short rulesbook will teach you.
It’s not just about creating scenery from hex pieces, but also inhabiting them with the local fauna. Foxes roam the forests, rivers belong to salmon, unless they are hunted by bears, wapitians roam the plains, and buzzards heading for the mountains circle their heads.
Behind this picturesque idea lies a purely mechanical game based on the relative position of cardboard pieces with biomes and wooden discs with the animals that occupy them. Each game involves five cards with beautiful illustrations of each of the animals, accompanied by the rule of how the animal brings victory points.
Usually you try to achieve certain constellations of animals on the plan – to have them divided into pairs, to make them the longest snake possible, to have gaps between them or to expose them to the most diverse neighbors. This gives you the main points that complement your largest coherent areas of individual biomes.
Therefore, in your turn, it depends not only on where you place the new piece and how you shoot it to increase as many biomes as possible, but also what animals can be placed on it to support your scorecards.
The whole move is very simple and brisk. You start by selecting one of the four menu pairs (piece + animal), then place both on your growing plan and another player plays. On single-species pieces you have the opportunity to get a cone, thanks to which you do not have to stick to strict pairs, but you can choose any animal and any piece, which is such a nice layer of additional strategy to an otherwise simple, yet cleverly devised game.
As soon as the supply of pairs runs out, the game ends, the points are added up and the winner is determined. At the very end of the game, there is a nice-looking landscape full of animals in front of you, which ideally brings a good pack of points and a warm feeling with a happy smile.
Moreover, it is not just about the basis described above. The game contains dozens of challenges that enrich the common game with a hunt for specific tasks. At the same time, the players who like to sit at the table alone and want to break their own records were thought of.
The cascade works in every number of players, but we liked it the most as a double. The rotation with your opponent quickly sweeps away, all you have to do here is watch the status of only one opponent and you’re done in half an hour, so there’s nothing stopping you from having a repeat.
Cascade is not a discovery game, it doesn’t do anything outright new, but what it does does great. It combines the good visuals with the cleanliness of its simple systems and a strategic layer that is deep enough not to discourage and entertain anyone. For me, this is clearly one of the most enjoyable and most played family games this year.
Source: Games by games.tiscali.cz.
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