Designed by Tim Blank, WizKids' Yosemite catapults two photographers into Yosemite National Park in the USA in a head-to-head competition to win 'Photographer of the Year'. This two-player set collection game take about 20 minutes and set up/down is pretty quick too. Players take photos (collect tiles) of five different animals, take photos of five key landmarks, gather fish and set up camp to achieve their objective.
The game takes place on a constantly evolving 5 x 5 grid of tiles with each player’s actions for the turn being set by the tile on which they start their turn. Each of the five animal tiles allows the player to move in a different way, and also decides whether they can move their opponent’s pawn or not. Furthermore each animal tile comes in three different colours which then determine which bonus action is possible. Start on a landmark tile and you can pick up the landmark token but once that’s gone you basically get no actions so you'll have to spend fish to move to a neighbouring tile. It’s quite fun moving your opponent on to these!
Ultimately, Yosemite is about grabbing the right combination of animal tiles to score points for photos. There are bonuses for photos at landmarks, best camp and also for impressing the judges who just want pictures of two animals, but these seemed to be less key to winning than racking up the points with photos.
You do have to keep an eye on your opponent to ensure they don’t snaffle the animal tiles or photos you need and you also need to plan ahead to chain your moves from tile to tile with maximum efficiency, so you certainly won’t get bored because you always have something to be thinking about during play!
It would have been nice for the rule book to have given more background on the five animals we’re photographing, especially to explain why only these five are relevant in what sounds like a hugely biodiverse wildlife haven. I would also have appreciated some real wildlife photos and some of Yosemite itself to enhance the theming. Beth Sobel's artwork is nice but this isn't the best example of her work and I did find the iconography on the photo cards a little small for my eyes. Overall, Yosemite is a fast-playing abstract puzzle game, even if it doesn’t especially feel like I’m wandering around a beautiful National Park and getting exquisite snaps.
(Review by Paul Moorshead)