Waterfall Park Review
Negotiation games are not generally my cup-of-tea, but if a game experience is short enough, I feel less ‘robbed’ if I end up losing because I couldn’t get someone to trade with me. With negotiation games, the reasons why players may or may not negotiate with you can extend past the actual game you are playing.
Best board game player in the group? Probably getting less trades. Still, since Waterfall Park is such a quick and streamlined experience, I feel pretty OK about playing this one, even if it’s not a first choice.
How to Play (Brief Overview)
Waterfall Park is played over 4 rounds, and during each round players will receive a number of location cards. After choosing a few from the hand (established by the game player #s and round #) players will put their plastic location pieces on their numbered squares. These squares are now owned by whatever players piece is on them. Players then receive a handful of attraction tiles which have two pieces of information on them: 1) the attraction that can be build with that tile and 2) a number indicating how many adjacent tiles must be together to complete that attraction.
Points are scored at the end of each round based on both completed and uncompleted attractions. Obviously a completed attraction – the correct number of pieces of the SAME attraction connected – scores more money, but even incomplete attractions will score something.
During the negotiation phase, players can trade their attraction tiles, their locations on the board, money, or even future promises to acquire the things they need. Need one more bowling alley but have no use for the cinema? Do you find location #37 useless, but really want location #12? Time to find a trading partner.
What I didn’t like about Waterfall Park
This is still a negotiation game and if you really hate negotiating with people to get ahead, you aren’t going to enjoy this. I don’t hate negotiating, I just hate doing it and not getting anywhere. In long games where negotiating certain things is key – Catan for example – I’m likely going to be unhappy no matter what. That isn’t quite the same problem here which we will discuss later.
I also hate point counting. By the 4th round, all proposed trades have some time associated with them while players start “point counting.” What does that mean? It’s simple really – with what I am trading you and what I am getting in return, is the points I’m getting going to offset the points your are getting so that I can win.
This could be solved with a house rule timer, but that isn’t built into the game. My last game of Waterfall Park took forever as people point counted (and I sat in the corner with a guaranteed loss because I played so poorly).
What I love about Waterfall Park!
It’s so dang short! Anything that can be taught and played with 4-Players in under 40 minutes is a big win for me, and this is the case with Waterfall Park. Since everyone is doing everything at the same time, there isn’t any down time either, so it feels like the game is moving faster than it is.
Outside of point counters (see above), this can be a very quick experience and the ease of play and quickness of the entire experience makes losing feel not as bad. I hate when players won’t negotiate with you for whatever reason, and that you end up losing because of it.
Trying to negotiate in this game is really fun, so even if it doesn’t work out, I still find myself having fun even if I don’t get what I want. If this game dragged over an hour long and this was the case, I’d be much less enthused.
I don’t think Waterfall Park is doing anything different when it comes to negotiation games, but I still like the concepts at play here. Being able to trade tiles, money and locations makes for some really unique combinations, and the quick play means even if you lose, you can still have a good time without wasting over an hour of your evening. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I lost at this…a lot! Still, I would recommend for a good, light hearted group game night. Even if this isn’t your favourite thing to play, with the right group it can still be a ton of fun!