Big Sur Preview

While I’ve never traveled along the most western coast of the US, my wife tells me it’s beautiful. Highway 1 is the legendary road that runs down the coast, through Bug Sur, California. Big Sur is a card game designed by Mondo Davis and being published by 25th Century Games. 2 to 4 players work to build their own stretches of this scenic highway, scoring points for the number of miles they put together.

Taking the Scenic Route

Players start the game with 2 cards in their hand and a display of highway cards in the center of the table. On your turn, you’ll take two cards from the display or top of the draw deck. Each highway card can be used for the resource shown on the back of the card OR as a part of your highway tableau that you’re building.

Big Sur - highway tableau in front of player

To add to your scenic highway tableau, you’ll pay the construction cost of that card using the other cards in your hand. You want to create stretches of highway that have matching scenery symbols to score points at the end of the game. The mile number in the top left of the card tells you how much that card is worth as part of a stretch of highway.

The illustrations on each card in Big Sur are gorgeous. Tristam Rossen did the art, creating landscapes that are bright, fun and made you wish you were on a road trip.

Big Sur - resources for building

Because these are multi-use cards, you’re always sacrificing something to build your next piece of highway. Players can be wise about how they build by starting off with low value cards early on. The lower numbered cards in the game come with permanent resources that are available if they are part of your highway. The 2-point cards have additional scoring bonuses that are counted at the end of the game.

A Short Trip Up the Coast

Big Sur is a tableau builder with engine-building and card drafting. These are some of our favorite mechanics, all packed into a small box. For players who are looking for more scoring options, you can add in Landmark cards. These cards feature selfies from travelers at key points on Highway 1. You can draft one of these cards when you meet the criteria of 3 consecutive scenery card types listed on the Landmark card.

Big Sur - Landmark cards

We’ve really enjoyed Big Sur and sometimes wish there were a couple more cards in the deck. The end of the game can creep up on you, especially if you’re too focused on collecting a hand of resources.

Big Sur - stretch of highway

Players will score points for each stretch (2 or more cards) of the various scenery types. Big Sur plays really smoothly and building out your highway looks great on the table. The gameplay and art really come together to make this a card game that’s going to connect with a lot of people.

You can learn more about Big Sur through the Kickstarter campaign from 25th Century Games when it launches in May 2024.

A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

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