Check out my d4 DICE review

Player count: 1 – 4 players
Play time: 30 – 45 minutes
Designers: Randy Flynn
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Welcome to the diverse wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. Foxes, Elks, Bears, Salmon and Hawks live in different parts of the varied terrain types such as forest, prairie, wetland, mountain and river. Each animal likes its own habitat.

In Cascadia players will start of with a three hex landscape piece. On a player’s turn they select one of the landscape tiles and corresponding wildlife tokens that is paired with it. Players may then place their landscape tile adjacent to an existing landscape tile (landscape types don’t have to match) and then place the wildlife token on any matching landscape tile. If the landscape tile has a nature symbol the player gains this token. These tokens can be used to refresh the wildlife tokens on display and to take a wildlife token that is not paired with a landscape token.

The goal of the game is to position and place the wildlife tokens in certain patterns or groupings to satisfy the scoring cards that are selected at the beginning of the game. In addition to this points are awarded for the number of tiles in each of your largest landscapes.

The game will last for a set number of rounds and the end game is triggered when the stack of landscape tiles is exhausted. Points are awarded and the player with the most points is the winner

Final Thoughts

Cascadia is a rules light and accessible game. Yet, it can offer some very tough and tense choices. I love how simple the rules are to the game. On your turn you select a landscape tile and place it next to another landscape tile then take the matching wildlife token and place it on a landscape tile with a matching icon. In a nutshell that is the game.

However, there is depth to the game. How and where you place your landscape tiles is important as you want to place tiles of the same type together to score points at the end of the game. This is often at odds with the wildlife token that you want and where you want to place them. So the decision of which tile to draft and where to place, is further expanded on as this will determine the wildlife token you take and place. What you draft has an impact on two things, the wildlife token and the landscape token.

The use of the nature tokens breaks the rule of taking the landscape token and wildlife token that are paired, and can be very useful. This helps with the randomness of the game and is an added mechanism that I appreciate. Your opponents can get lucky and get the perfect tile/wildlife token combination and you can be left with something sub optimal. The nature token can mitigate this, to some extent, but I have found that I have never been left with a bad selection. With five different wildlife tokens available in the game there is always something that can be done to get you points. At times you are forced to pivot on your strategy based on what is available to you in the display.

There are also four different sets of wildlife cards which offer variation on a theme of how the different tokens score. They all score in similar ways but with slight changes. This gives the game some variety and offers a slightly different puzzle to think about each game. The game is a fairly abstract puzzle but it is a puzzle that is lovely to look at as you build a sprawling landscape of mountains, wetlands and rivers populated with elk, hawks and salmon. The game is also a very solitaire game, there is enough to think about and enough ways to score that hate drafting is not really an issue. Some may see this as a negative but for me, I like it. It means I can concentrate on how best to maximise my points based on the puzzle in front of me. The lack of interaction makes this a lovely quick solo puzzle game that I have been enjoying massively. At the higher player counts you do see a turn over of tiles quicker than in a two player game.

It would be nice to see some additional scoring cards. Four sets of each animal is good but, like I said above, they are variations on the same theme. It would be good to see something different. Maybe an expansion? Who knows. Either way, Cascadia is a fantastic abstract, tile laying puzzle game that has been hitting my table constantly since receiving my copy.

Please note: Cascadia was provided as a review copy from Asmodee/AEG.