Date: 8th October 2004
Game played: Dos Rios ( Mayfair Games ) BGG Id: 9408

I've had this game for quite a while but we have only just got around to trying it out. It's by Franz Benno Delonge, who designed the excellent TransAmerica and Goldbrau which we tried and quite liked a couple of weeks ago. The game is produced by Kosmos and Mayfair Games.

The board consists of a map of hex tiles depicting different types of terrain and two rivers flowing from the mountains at the top of the board to the lakes at the bottom. Players try to earn income from having their pieces in the correct type of terrain, but only so long as one of the rivers flows through that space. The income is then used to build houses and a palace and the first player to build 4 houses and a palace wins the game. You can also win by building a palace and three houses provided they are all built in spaces where the river flows.

Each player's turn is made up of two elements: Actions and Harvesting. Each player has 6 movement points to allocate to his 6 farmers, plus the option of building houses, palaces and dams. Movement involves positioning your farmers on the terrain that will bring income during the Harvest phase. If other player's farmers are in the way, so much the better if you can chase them back to the village by the lake. Building a house gives you a permanent presence on a terrain space and a palace also eases movement around the board, protects your farmers from desperadoes and stops other players moving across that space. Building a dam across the river enables you to divert the river across terrain spaces more favourable to your cause. Once you have completed the actions you choose to take, Harvesting takes place. A deck of tiles show the areas that can be harvested and a row of five tiles gives the players advance warning of what Harvesting could take place imminently. "Could" because the current player can choose either to proceed with the harvest or delay it for a number of turns (whichever is more to his advantage).

The game is all about trying to make the most out of the actions on your turn. Between turns, you can do nothing to affect play and the board position is usually totally different when you next get to play. Hence you can do no forward planning and there is a lot of downtime (particularly with our group of deep thinkers). Our game took well over two hours and we were all relieved when it finished. Because of the nature of the play, with everyone trying to knock opponents back while setting themselves up for income, progress was very slow. I think if the cost of the houses/ palaces was set a bit lower, this might help but as a four player game we were not overly impressed. This was a shame because there are some good ideas in the game, especially the way you can divert the river to help your score. As a two player game, however, it may work a lot better, due to the lesser downtime. I eventually managed to stock up on enough dams and accumulate sufficient money to build my palace and divert the river through it and my three houses to claim the victory (despite everyone picking on me, especially Mark K, early in the game. But I would never whinge about things like that!)

Mark G
Mark K

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