What’s a bigger list? Your bucket list of places to visit or your list of unplayed games? If your imagination is big enough, we can address both at the same time with one game. Trekking the World is the sequel to Trekking the National Parks. This time, the scale is global. Players will traverse the world on a colorful board, collecting souvenirs, and visiting famous destinations.
Depending on your outlook, this could be the best-timed release or the worst-timed release, seeing as world travel is currently restricted due to a global pandemic. To me, it’s a pleasant reminder of what was and, hopefully, will be again soon. Trekking the World is a 2-5 player game that takes about 1 hour to play. The gameplay is centered around route planning and set collection.
In Trekking the World, players are competing to score the most victory points. Players earn victory points by collecting sets of souvenirs (colored cubes), touring destinations, and achieving various bonus scoring.
On their turn, a player can (optionally) move from one airport to another if they start their turn on an airport. Next, a player must move (if possible) by playing any number of Trek cards and moving the number of spaces equal to the total number on those cards combined. Finally, the player chooses one of three actions. They can draw two Trek cards from the face-up row and/or the deck, take a tour by playing Trek cards with symbols matching the requirement of a face-up destination, or discard two matching Trek cards to take one of two available journey actions.
Once five region bonuses have been taken from the board or one player has toured 5 locations, the game ends immediately, and scores are tallied. The highest score wins.
This game is a lighter, gateway style game. It’s easy to teach and turns are quick. It is ultimately a pick-up and deliver style game, except what you need to pick up comes from the cards instead of other locations on the board. In that sense, there is a strong focus on hand management, which is amplified by the need to use cards for movement, touring, and taking journeys.
The way you get cards is Rummy-style, reminiscent of Ticket to Ride or Ethnos. Sometimes, the cards you need just won’t come up, and that’s okay. You’ll need to shift your plans. You cannot afford to get stuck on one goal or be short-sighted. A successful strategy will have you bouncing around from region to region, collecting souvenirs and the appropriate cards along the way.
You can block other players’ paths, and to me, there’s just enough trade-off to make it worthwhile when you’re in the area without it being the obvious choice. There are also opportunities to deduce what an opponent is working toward and steal it away from them before they can get there. Those moves can feel mean and a bit unexpected for your first play, but with experience, it feels like a natural part of the game’s strategy.
This is a game that needs to be played with an open mind and flexibility. While it has a dressing of a fairly strategic game, it is ultimately more tactical. You will need to plan several turns ahead, but if someone gets to something before you, you may be starting from zero again. With there only being five destinations to tour at a time and two of those destinations being worth 3 or 5 bonus points, you are bound to clash with someone else on the board. For that reason, I think this game is best at two to three players. With each player beyond that, you’ll feel like you have less control over how well your plans pan out.
There are certainly some downsides brought about by the way cards are gained and the way they are spent. Getting cards can be a bit slow, and unless there’s just the right journey action available, you could end up using several turns where your main action is just drawing cards. That slowness is compounded by the fact that you have to spend cards to move every turn. It can be frustrating at times. While the game is meant to feel like traveling the world, many turns feel more like your flight was delayed at the airport, or at the very least, you’ll have an unexpected layover on the way to your destination. You may think that better planning can get around this, but again, people will be getting in your way and even taking things from you before you get there.
Trekking the World can serve a few purposes in a collection. If traveling is one of your hobbies or interests, you will probably get even more enjoyment out of the location descriptions and amazing art. Reminiscing over past trips can add to the overall experience. Those conversations will come about naturally through the gameplay.
The detailed descriptions on the cards mean that this can even be used as an educational tool. Even if reading a bunch of text doesn’t appeal to you, you will be compelled to admire the beautiful pictures on the cards. The downsides in Trekking the World can potentially be overshadowed by the impressive imagery for the first few plays. The shine and marvel may wear off quickly, especially once you start seeing repeat cards. Additionally, the journey cards are the only aspect that feels very different from game to game, so once you’ve seen all of those, there’s not a lot left to explore.
For those that can tolerate highly tactical games with some potentially mean interactions, this could be worth seeking out. However, besides the art and presentation, I don’t think this does anything special. The gameplay has some unique elements, but the overall experience doesn’t feel new. If this is a theme that appeals to you and you are looking for a lightweight game with art that will please everyone, I would recommend picking up Trekking the World. However, if you’re a more involved gamer and you already have a solid list of gateway games, I think you’ll be fine to pass on it.
Credit: Trekking the World Review