Colt Express designer Christophe Raimbault’s next board game is Redwood, an inventive game about photographing animals in their natural habitat.
Publisher Sit Down Games ran Dicebreaker through a prototype demo of the upcoming board game at this year’s Gen Con, showing off its dynamic and tactical simulation of competitive photography.
In a surprise twist for such a serene theme, Redwood plays more like a miniatures games such as Warhammer or Star Wars: X-Wing. Players use curved movement temples to carefully manoeuvre their photographer around the circular board, steering clear of animals and their rival snappers to find the ideal spot for a picture. (You’re not allowed to measure up the template before you choose it - as soon as you touch a ruler, it’s your move for the round.) The miniatures’ neoprene bums stop them sliding around as you line up the template and move.
Once you’ve taken your place, Redwood’s clever way of simulating photography comes into play. Players snap a flexible template to the base of their figure. The translucent cones represent the camera’s field of vision, with any animals and natural features overlapped by the template captured in their photo and counted towards their goal card.
Goals can be as simple as capturing a given number of elements in a single idea, or present more specific bonuses for taking a picture while standing on the board’s central lake, for example. A sun rotates around the board, revealing new bonuses. Each successful image adds to a row of cards in front of each player, gradually forming a panoramic image of the park illustrated by Bitoku artist Edu Valls, who also provides gorgeous artwork of animals and plants around the board.
Adding to the feeling of professional photography are small cut-out holes in each vision template, which serve as the ideal focal point for the player’s camera. Having a subject poke through the hole symbolises photographing them with a clear focus, potentially earning bonus points. There are a variety of vision templates to choose from, with varying lengths, widths and focal ranges, neatly simulating a choice of lenses when preparing your shot.
There are a variety of vision templates to choose from, with varying lengths, widths and focal ranges, neatly simulating a choice of lenses when preparing your shot.
The combination of precise movement and aiming has all the tension and satisfaction of positioning a sniper for the perfect shot, but with the decidedly more pleasant objective of capturing animals and nature in their beauty rather than leaving plastic bodies stacked high.
Once photographed, animals will move to another region of the forest, slotting into hex-shaped holes around the circular board. The game ends after five turns, with a playthrough expected to take around an hour with up to four players.
Our short demo showed off Redwood’s impressive blend of wargame-like tactical movement and its delightful photography theme, leaving me excited to play the full game and perfect my tabletop photography skills.
And, honestly? While Redwood’s woodland setting seems the ideal setting for the game, the game’s mechanics also left me immediately hankering for a Pokémon Snap edition. Imagine sliding through trees to snap a sleeping Snorlax and Pikachu.
Redwood will launch a Kickstarter campaign on September 28th, ahead of a planned release next year. The core game will be followed by an expansion that adds additional animals and movement templates, including those for a flying hang glider.