We had to go further along the river, because the gods told us that. We have been paid many times before for not believing them, and our tribal olds have decided, that this time we must follow the signs. But whatever happens to our old home, it looks like it was a mistake this time. The same advices have been given to other tribes, and now we have to fight for a place on the new shore!
Games from Days of Wonder are always worth mentioning and playing. They are usually strictly tactical, but at the same time also pleasantly simple. These include new The River, which was published by the company in the end of 2018. It is written by Ismael Perrin and comes with Sebastien Pauchon’s illustrations. This whole box was wrapped for distribution in the Esdevium Games and arrived to stores before Christmas.
The game is contained in a box of large square format and on its lid we see some of the builders of the village. A river flows behind them, indicating that there may be a wide variety of terrain even at the water. Inside, players get a large board, that divides into three islands. Its two sides will equip participants with building cards and terrain tiles. On the individual spaces in the middle, players place raw material stocks. On the common board, there is also a place for bonus tokens.
Each participant then receives his own small board, which offers a dozen positions for terrain tiles. Their positions are printed with icons of raw materials and warehouses. But players will also get a set of workers (pioneers) in his chosen color, one of which will be placed on bonus tokens positions. The remaining four workers will wait for their assignments on carton ship, which serves as their base. At the beginning, everyone gets one field of terrain, they choose from the menu.
Turn usually consists of choosing one pioneer and sending it to one of the available positions on the plan. With its help, player can primarily produce raw materials from all of his boxes that bring some resources. By choosing one of the four islands, the player decides on which raw material he wants to get. The quantity is then prescribed by the number of visible symbols of that type on his own board.
But that’s not all. When a player takes wooden tokens, he must store them in of his warehouses. If he does not have enough roofs to hide his profit under, he must return it to the stock.
The player can buy new buildings for free (only for the price of the event) and place them on individual spaces along the river on his board, that winds like a snake. He places it at the first spot along the water flow, but at the same time, it may cover some of the symbols, that were already printed there. This can reduce the income of raw materials for future turns or the capacity of their warehouses, but add something else.
And then it is finally time to capitalize all the raw materials and turn attention to the buildings in offer. The player can reserve or construct them for one action. Each building has its price printed in a number of different raw materials and the resulting value in the form of victory points. The player puts the building under his own board, so that others do not see it. At the same time, he also receives one bonus token.
The players alternate in sending their laborers one by one until the pioneers supply runs out. At that moment, everyone will withdraw their pieces, freeing action spaces on the board and the battle continues on to the next round. The game ends, when one of the players stacks five bonus tokens. At that point, it’s time to count all the victory points – those for buildings and bonus tokens, together with rewards for the remaining raw materials and some terrain tiles. The highest sum owner may celebrate the victory.
We have already indicated, that The River will be a game with simple rules. And this novelty will really be surprising by its accessibility, even in terms of the classical worker placement genre. It’s a very obvious thing for players – to get as much raw material as possible and buy the right buildings in exchange for them.
For many players, however, this simplicity will be difficult to swallow. It’s hard to imagine a much simpler game like this. That’s why it’s one of the basic fun for absolutely unexperienced players and beginners.
In terms of access as an entry game, everything works well. The mechanism of gaining raw materials, preparing your own board and then gathering the victory points is fine. The points can be stacked in different ways.
The parade excels mainly in a higher number (ideally in four), because at that moment, blocking comes in the most – the most outstanding elements of the worker placement.
The length of the game is also related to target group. This game is overdue in half an hour, which is usually unthinkable in such a type of game. On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that there is not enough things to do in your turn, in addition to the straightforward move towards the winning gate. And because the end depends on the acquired buildings, which are the logical outcome of the effort, the battle is always over quickly.
But it is clear that the game does not offer anything new or original. It’s only about reworking familiar concepts. The most interesting thing about the game is division of the board into the islands and, above all, of course, perfect processing.
However, it is also necessary to keep an eye on the terrain tiles. These vary considerably between each other and offer different special abilities. Particulars are mainly meadow tiles, that add conditions for final scoring.
The River is a game that will probably disappoint a number of people. It offers extremely simplified mechanisms, but it still remains true to tactics and entertainment. That’s why it’s really great for beginners or as a flash filler. It’s hard to find some depth of choice or replayability. Still, the River is a great thing if you’re a beginner and looking for one of your first board games.
The River is a game accessible to everyone regardless of experience. Even those who have never played a board game more complex than Monopoly will learn this novelty according to the rules and will do it by themselves. And with all the classic mechanisms of modern board games, it makes it an ideal entry gate to the world of social entertainment. Game acquires plus points for processing, but above all for speed from start lights to the finish line. Although The River game will find a lot of opponents and disappointed players, it does exactly, what it wants to do and does it very well.