Teaching Science

Upstream Board Game

Welcome to the wild. Welcome to Upstream: A game about the natural cycle of life.

Like every spring, the melted snow fills the riverbeds, opening the way back home for the Salmon, after a life swimming in the oceans… Each player controls a bank of salmons swimming upstream to lay their eggs where they were born. During their journey they will face hungry bears, fierce birds of prey, as well as patient fishermen, which they must avoid in order to survive. These are not the only hazards the Salmons must face, as each round of play the strength of the water flow will cause some pieces of the river to fall back, making it impossible for some fishes to keep their way upstream.

Upstream is an eurotrash-style game of tile placement and grid movement through an action point allowance system for 2 to 5 players of ages 6 and up. Games last around 20 minutes.

This lovely little game gives players a good idea of the dangers salmon face as they head upstream to spawn. It plays quickly so is easy for students to write (and test) new rules to add additional dangers for the salmon to overcome, such as dams, chemical spills, sport and commercial fishing, and so on.

At €25 it’s a tad expensive, especially when you add shipping from Europe, but the artwork is wonderful.

2 Tomatoes Games is currently making a print-and-play version available for free, which is very generous of them.

Linked in the grade 9 biology unit.