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Parks and Recreation Party Game

Parks and Recreation is a long-running mockumentary TV series that follows a local government department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. The main character, Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), is endlessly enthusiastic in promoting local projects celebrating Pawnee and its dubious history but the workers around her don't all share her enthusiasm or work ethic. It's a good-natured sitcom and this game from Funko Games and the Prospero Hall design team is appropriately light-hearted, tho' there are some interactions that highly competitive players might consider 'take that'.

The 3-6 players take on one of the characters from the TV series and, in keeping with the show, players are trying to complete projects, which you'll mostly recognise from the TV series. Each project has two or three requirements from the six represented on players' 'To Do' cards: Personnel, Music, Catering, Sponsorship, Public Support, Cut Red Tape. Players each have a hand of five 'To Do' cards and each will have one or two of the requirements on them. Cards are also numbered. Players play a card from their hand face down so that the cards are revealed simultaneously. They are then actioned in number order; so the player whose card has the lowest number goes first. If they can meet in full the first unfilled requirement on a project card, they they cover that requirement and place out one of their markers on the project. If they partially meet a requirement, they can call on one of the other players to contribute from the card they laid down. So, for example, if I've played a card showing two Catering icons and the project required 3 Catering, then I can take the remaining icon from a card that another player has laid down. The player doesn't have a choice in the matter. When you do this, you get to place out your marker on the project and the player you 'volunteered' to help you also gets to place out a marker, but they won't otherwise get a turn.

Players earn 'waffles' for the marker they have on projects that are completed. The value of each waffle is usually hidden but the leftmost markers on a project take waffles that are likely to score more points. Some 'To Do' cards tho' let the player switch the position of their marker to the left - hence the 'take that' element of play. There will be turns when you don't get to take any action at all; for example, because the project you'd planned to play had the requirement filled before your card number was reached. The game tho' offers some compensation for this by allowing you to 'treat yo'self' by discarding and replacing any or all of the cards in your hand.

The game includes a model for Li'l Sebastian (the horse from the show). Li'l Sebastian acts as a game timer. At the start of the game you lay out eight waffles for Li'l Sebastian and he eats one of them for each horseshoe on a project card placed out to replace a card that is scored. When all eight waffles have been consumed, the game ends and the win goes to the player with the most points. Some project cards have a visitor badge rather than any horseshoes. These trigger a City Hall Visitor which will act as an event card to alter game play.

The Parks and Recreation Party Game is fun to play, tho' it's not really a party game in the traditional sense of the term. Neither is it Cones of Dunshire - the board game referred to in the series! We've enjoyed Parks and Recreation most at higher player counts. Tho' fans of the TV show will appreciate that they are playing as characters from Parks and Recreation, we were disappointed that the characters aren't actually reflected in the game play. There's an icon on each character card that awards them a bonus waffle if it matches one on any project card for which you score, but there's no reflection of Leslie Knope's boundless optimism or Ron Swanson's staunch libertarianism: the Pawnee characters are really only pawns.

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