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USAOPOLY & NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
Game Design: Kami Mandell   Illustrations (Excellent): Rick Hutchinson
Online prices from: £15.79 (Zatu) - £23.93 (Crowdstorm)  
Check Your Local Game Store         Plays 3-6  Aged 6+

 

Each player has a double-sided board with each side representing one of America's favourite, famous, National Parks. There is a single-sided board that shows a colour coded map of where these parks are located. For Americans or folk with geographical knowledge of the USA, the locations are easily noted as the map shows each Park, numbered 1-12. If you are not au fait with the USA then you may have a minor problem as, although the map shows 12 places in six colours (matching those of the player boards).

Numbers 1 & 7 on the map are Turquoise and matches the player board of the Everglades/Cape Hatteras. Most of us know where the Everglades are (Florida) so #1 is the Everglades and thus #7 is Cape Hatteras. But then it gets to be a bit tricky unless, as I say, you know USA geography. Example: #2 & #8 are both Brown but one is far South-West, the other North-East, Yosemite and Acadia - I guess you could use this for teaching/learning.

Each of the 12 Parks has an associated animal, with each pair of (back to back boards) Parks sharing the same animal. The Bald Eagle of the Great Smokey Mountain and Rocky Mountain. The Sea Turtle of the Florida Everglades and Cape Hatteras. Other animals are Rattlesnake, Lynx, Bison and Black Bear; there is a short, but interesting, factual paragraph for each.

GET WILD is a fun family game with basic and a Kids (Junior Rangers) versions. Then the Family Vacations variation which adds more amusement and has a warning attached stating that playing this variation shouldn't be undertaken until you have played, and got used to, the base game because it can get rather frenetic.

 

The whole idea of the game, whichever variant you play, is to return 'lost' animals to the National Parks they call home. Players start with a Player Board, chosen or by random (it makes no actual difference), one of each die (3 different types) and a number (dependent on player number) of animal tokens shared equally - all animals except the ones that their National Park requires; any remaining animals are placed on the central map board.

This is a sort of roll & grab game, though it's often as much giving and taking as grabbing, so once all players are setup the game starts and the real fun begins, competitively and simultaneously. That's right, players all roll their dice and act at the same time. The dice decide which species, how many of them and where to put them - Left, Right Centre or ? (choice)

 

Some folk, especially gamers, aren't keen on the word 'nice', which, in this case, is a shame because this really is a nice game. The artwork is lovely, the components are good solid card (great for replayability). The tokens are colour coded with immediately recognisable characters/animals; the dice are game specific, one with the 6 animals on (one per side), one with the numbers, 1,1,1,2,2,3 and the third die has L,L,R,R, ?, Map of USA.

Once play begins the game has only a couple of rules.
1. You roll all three dice
2. You do what each die indicates
3, You roll again when you have activated the dice from the previous roll - do not wait for the other players, just keep rolling and activating, there are no Turns
4. Play stops and the round ends when a player shouts out "Wildlife Restored". This is when the only animal or animals on their board belong to that region. The player who stops the game legally scores 3 points. Play continues by resetting and starting again until the first player wins by reaching 20 points. Then every player, including the one who stopped the game, scores 1pt for every 'native' animal on their boards and minus 1pt for every non-native animal on their boards.

 

The Junior variant is similar, though instead of three it only uses two dice - the Animal die and the Direction die. Without the Number die determining how many animals can be moved, all animals of the type rolled can be moved.

In the basic game players can move the animal rolled, but from their board to another player's board or the Centre map, unless they roll their own animal (native to their board's region) in which case they can move that animal to their board from the direction shown on the Direction die.

The game-play will have you passing animals to opponents that they actually want - there is no way to prevent this as it's down to the dice roll. The only skill involved is dexterity, unless hand to eye coordination is classed as a skill. Speed of rolling and activating is the key to playing, but remember to keep your eyes on what the other players are doing.

 

The Family Vacation variant is where your Cerebellum gets the chance to twist itself around your Brainstem. The gameplay is similar, rolling dice, moving animals etc. The twists are that whenever someone rolls a 3 everyone passes their player boards, complete with collected animals, in the direction shown by the die, Right, Left or Choice. If you are caught holding animals when the 3 is rolled - remember that players roll dice at their own speed (as long as they stick to the rules) - then you keep hold of them until you receive the new board and drop of them onto it.

Play is fast, making 15-20 minutes seem more like 5-10 minutes. It is frantic, frustrating fun. GET WILD is one of the games where the designer has got the playing age, it is aimed at 6 years old and upwards, just right. Most 5 year olds may have difficulty understanding the speed concept, but by the age of 6 they should be ready for this challenge.

The scoring in the Family Vacation is also quite different. You score one point for stopping the game (instead of 3) and no one else scores. First player to score 2 points wins. All variations are easy to play, easy to understand; the concept of passing boards may be a little confusing at first, especially to younger players, but it is only a natural progression and most definitely adds to the good family fun. As I said earlier, this is a (very) nice game and our family very much enjoy it. Even our core-strategic-gaming friends enjoy a frantic dice game occasionally.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021