Date: 19th November 2004
Game played: Niagara ( Zoch Verlag ) BGG Id: 13308

Zoch are very well known for their wooden dexterity games, like Bausack and Hamster Rolle, and their newest title has a novel action mechanic that fits in very well with the theme.

Niagara is a game of paddling canoes up and down the river looking for gems while trying to avoid being swept over the waterfall. Each player commands two canoes and has a set of 7 tokens that dictate how far a boat can move (one to six spaces) or affect the speed of the river. Each player simultaneously places a token face-down and then each in turn moves their boat, picks up a gem or steals a gem from another player. Different coloured gems are located at different points of the river and the idea is to be the first to return to the head of the river with one of each of the five different-coloured gems, or four gems of the same colour or any seven gems. The novel bit comes from the movement of the river. Each of the spaces on the board is actually a circular disc and these are placed in a row on top of the river bed, which ends with the waterfall at one edge of the board. After everyone has had a turn, new discs are entered at one side of the board and these push the existing discs (together with the canoes sat on top of them) towards and eventually over the waterfall. The faster the river is flowing, the more discs are entered at the top of the river. As players have to play all of their movement tokens before they can re-use them, some turns can see you being pushed further down the river.

In our game, we all used our large movement tokens early to get a gem back to land early. In the middle of the game, there was some stealing of gems from opponents going on but eventually, I managed to paddle to the top of the river with my fourth purple gem to claim victory. This is another fairly light game but this does have something for gamers to get their teeth into. John was particularly impressed with the river movement idea and plans to get hold of a copy of the game. As Rio Grande are publishing it soon, it won’t be too difficult for him to get hold of.

Mark G

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