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I want to push the river!

August 11, 2013

Niagara is a game with a gimmick. The board sits atop the game’s box and depicts a river running towards a waterfall, which tumbles over the end of the box. The course of the river is recessed into the board and movement spaces are provided by clear plastic discs that are, after each round, pushed along the watercourse towards (and over) the falls.

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Green boat number two heads back into the river after delivering a gemstone. Four spaces to move…

This is all rather cute, but combined with the fact that you are trying to manoeuvre boats in the river to collect valuable gems from the banks by playing movement tiles, this means that you are playing a game of brinkmanship with how close to the falls you dare go, and there can be real tension as you wait to see how this will all work out.

The game is really for three or more players, but Miss B and I play together by using two teams of coloured boats each. We further speed things up by allowing victory to be gained by the combined scores of our colours and making it a little easier to pick up gems.

So, this gimmick… Well, it’s a really good one.  Occasionally the discs get stuck at the fork above the falls, but you just nudge the stuck disc in the opposite direction to the last one to fall and it’s all fine.  We love watching the dynamics of the board and how sometimes you get two discs in a row taking the same path at the fork, causing panic or cheering, depending on how it went for you.  We have only played two-player games so far, but are looking forward to getting into a bigger game some time soon.  Good, silly stuff.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 6½): “Niagara is a 10 out of 10 because of the waterfall.  It’s one of my favourite games.”

The game: Niagara (Rio Grande), 3 to 5 players aged 13+.

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