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Monday, May 16, 2005


Niagara, DVONN, Pitchcar


Was lucky enough to play several games of Niagara this last week. Yes, it is light. But, I really enjoyed it. I originally gave it a 7 on BGG, but I knocked it up to an 8 this evening.

First I played with kids exclusively. Started with 3 players, but one kid had to leave half way through, so we finished with just two. The two of us, the kid and I, enjoyed it so much we played a second game. I then had a chance to play with a gamer friend of mine and 3 kids. We both enjoyed the game, and the kids, who ranged in age from 6 to 10 and enjoyed it as much as we did.

The game features a board with a river and waterfall that your canoes will go over if you get too close, yet you don't exactly know how swift the river will be each turn and you need to get close to the falls to get both the blue and pink gems. The board sits on the game box and the waterfall dangles over the edge.

The goal of the game is to collect gems from the banks of the river. There are 7 each of 5 different gems. The board has a sunken portion that simulates a river bed. Round plastic discs are pushed downstream each turn to simulate the flow of the river. Players control 2 canoes which use the discs as spaces on the river. The river moves as many spaces as the value of the lowest card played plus the number from the weather chart, either a -1, 0, 1, or 2. Players have 7 cards, numbered 1-6 and a cloud card. The numbers indicate how far a player's canoes travel each turn. The cloud card allows the player to adjust the weather chart. When all 7 cards are played each player collects his spent cards and again starts with a full hand.

The first player to collect 4 gems of the same color, 5 of different colors, or 7 total gems is the winner.

It is a game that is easy enough for children, but has enough strategy to interest adults. I haven't had an opportunity to play the other Speil Des Jahres nominees, but Niagara is deservedly one of the favorites to win the prestigious award. It is a game that I would hesitate to recommend playing exclusively with adults, but with the right group Niagara could be a lot of fun.

Look for a backlash of gamers who say it is only a child's game. I say it is good family fun.


This is my third game of the GIPF series. So far I've played GIPF, YINSH, and DVONN. DVONN is my least favorite. I'm having trouble figuring strategy in this abstract two player game. To make matters worse, I've been playing with a friend who "gets it". He has managed to stomp me into the dirt every time we have played.

I am still quite impressed with the series and will eventually get the others. I am sure that DVONN will grow on me in the next few months. These GIPF games are short enough to get to the table frequently, and are good enough that no one ever turns down a game.


Figured this finger-flicking dexterity game would be a sure-fire winner at the Boys and Girls Club. It just received a so-so reception. I'll have to report back, but I wasn't too impressed, neither was the target audience.

Good gaming,

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