REVIEW: The River Game from Days of Wonder

The eye-catching images on the box, with their stunning characters, immediately drew me into the game, making me want to explore the contents. And I wasn’t disappointed! This is another excellent strategy game from Days of Wonder, which has players thinking hard throughout. The objective of the game is for you, the mayoral players, to create the very best pioneer settlement by developing land along a river bed in your town. To do this, players must use resources from the area and construct buildings. As you do so, this makes you think about what will create a successful settlement, and the best order to do things in. Unlike many strategy games, the focus is on your own settlement, not on scoring points off other players – this makes the game particularly good for younger ones, as they can concentrate on their own strategy.

The game is a good introduction to strategy games. You need to be on the ball throughout playing, as every decision has an impact on the future success of your settlement. It’s worth taking time out before first playing, to ensure everyone is really up to speed with the rules as this will pay off in terms of making sure your strategies are the best possible. Better still, let each player read the rules for themselves, as there are some really useful graphics which help to explain the game fully. The game is well made, with good strong card and colourful illustrations which are very attractive. There are four different types of resources – wood, clay, stone and food and these are represented by tactile wooden pieces. We found the game offers opportunities to discuss the environment and making good use of resources.

The game is suitable for 2 to 4 players and there are clearly explained minor differences in the game play, depending on the number of players (this makes the game adapt well to different numbers); recommended age is 8+. We found that every game is different, as players employ varying strategies; as you gain experience, the game gets better. Average game play is 30 to 45 minutes, and we found it quicker after a couple of games had been enjoyed. A great family game and a good starting point to introduce children to the fun of strategy games. Satisfying, well made pieces with excellent graphics add to the pleasure. A good addition to the games cupboard!

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