Trekking the World
If you're looking for an attractive 'gateway' game that's a step up from Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder) then Underdog Games have just the thing. We've previously featured Charlie Bink's Trekking Through History on Board's Eye View, and the same designer's Trekking The World has similarities but it's a notch easier to play and its travel and geographic theme make it even more appealing.
Trekking The World is played on a bright world map that highlights several popular tourist locations. There'll be a display showing four destination cards. Cubes of four different colours are placed out at random at the locations on the map and you pick up the cube when your meeple lands at the location. You keep the cubes on your individual player boards; fashioned like an old-style suitcase from the age before these all came fitted with wheels. The cubes represent souvenirs and they give you points for each set of four and there are bonuses too for having the most of each colour and for taking the last cube on a continent.
Catering for 2-5 players, Trekking the World is primarily a hand management game using its dual-purpose Trek cards. The number on a Trek card represents its movement value (range 1-5). Unless you have no cards in your hand at the start of your turn, you must move and the distance moved must be the exact amount on the card or cards you play. After you've moved you can take one of three actions: you can draw two Trek cards to add to your hand (there's no hand-size limit!), you can 'take a tour' (ie: claim a destination card from the display) or you can activate one of the two 'journey' cards drawn for use in the game. These give you a special action but require you to discard two Trek cards of the same colour.
The Trek cards also have a 'suit' (colour). These are used to claim a destination card from the display. To claim a destination, you need to have landed on it and you need to hand in Trek cards that match those on the destination card. The destination cards vary in value from 10-20 points, and there's an additional bonus of 3 or 5 points for taking the rightmost destination cards in the display. It's collecting these that's likely to earn you the most points and the game ends instantly when a player collects five destinations (or when the penultimate continent bonus is claimed). The 'instant' game end is the one aspect of Trekking the World that can give rise to grumbles because it may well mean that players get an uneven number of turns. Note tho' that it's not necessarily the case that the player who ends the game will be the winner. Nevertheless, if you find players sulking that the instant finish is unfair, it's not a huge stretch to house rule play continuing until everyone has had the same number of turns.
The most striking thing about Trekking the World is the beautiful artwork on the large-format destination cards. Credit for the art goes to Csaba Bernáth, Marta Danecka, Sebastian Koziner and Alexey Shirokikh. The gameplay tho' is what brings players back to the board. This is an easy-to-learn game because gameplay feels intuitive. There's a tension between using cards for movement and holding onto them for use in claiming a destination, and a player who's accumulated a large hand of Trek cards can surprise you with a ultra long move that snatches that destination you were on the brink of claiming. You're not allowed to move your meeple through a space occupied by another player, so there's scope for strategy in blocking a rival. Nonetheless, you'll find Trekking the World a good-natured rather cutthroat game that can be enjoyed by all the family, and you'll find you're brushing up your world geography while you play.
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