Title: Beacon Control
Designed By: Torben Ratzlaff
Art By: Torben Ratzlaff
Published By: Pandasaurus Games
Player Count: 1-4
Time to Play: 30 Minutes
Are you looking for a relaxing little puzzley exploration game? Let me introduce you to Beacon Patrol from Pandasaurus Games. Explore uncharted seas in your cute little Coast Guard boat and build a map of the land you discover. Work to build the best scoring map by checking on beacon buoys and lighthouses to ensure the safety of the residents of the Nordic Coastline. It plays with 1-4 people and I must say it's solo mode is very satisfying. When playing with 2 or more people, Beacon Patrol will be cooperative and play very similarly to solo mode.
What's purr-ty cool:
Beacon Patrol is a game I can pull out when I want to play something relaxing. It provides just the right amount of thinking for when I want to work my brain but not burn it out. I would describe it as a relaxing game. The rules are pretty light and there are not a lot of choices a player needs to make each turn. That said, the exploration part of the game is fun as you work to puzzle out how to build islands and coastlines in order to try and score points. I would compare the feel of Beacon Patrol a lot with that of A Gentle Rain. Beacon Patrol is a beat-your-own-score kind of game, so there is no real win or loss condition, it's all about seeing how well you can do.
One thing I enjoyed was that Beacon Patrol had a unique challenge for a tile-laying game, orientation. Unlike many tile-laying games, like Carcassonne, where you can play tiles in whatever direction you want to, in Beacon Patrol, they can only be placed in a single direction. This adds a layer of complexity so you have more limited choices for how to optimize each piece's use. This also in some ways is really helpful for players who are easily overwhelmed with choices because each piece can only go down one way, not four different ways.
Components and Aesthetics:
They nailed the nautical vibe. The colors and the art style are enjoyable and look cute on the table. I love the little boats! They are cute and I like how they thematically work into the game. Boats cannot cross land in real life, and nor can they in the game. In Beacon Patrol, boats can only travel to new places if they are connected by water. This adds a nice challenge depending on the tiles you have available, as you have to make sure to build your map so that you can use your water tiles to your advantage. I also appreciate that there is a mini-expansion in the box adding windmills and piers which allow you new ways to gain points as you explore. There is even adjusted scoring ranks for each expansion.
Overall Beacon Patrol is a fun, quick, relaxing game that would be good to break out when you want something simple to play alone or alongside friends. It's easy to learn, teach, and play which makes it a good jumping-off point for new gamers who want to play alongside their more experienced friends.
The cat's meow:
"Did someone say boat? Do you know what boats go on? Water! I love water!" - Solo the Spokescat...who regularly hops in the bathtub...while there is water in it.
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.