Author: Reiner Knizia

Publisher: Parker 1999

Awards: none



Once again the german top-designer Reiner Knizia has released a new tactical game, and this time he has chosen medieval Germany as a historical setting for his game. At these times many Dukes and smaller Baronies settled along the river Rhine, founding city and building fortresses and thus the whole "Rheinland" became an important factor for the further german history.

Like most Knizia Games, "Rheinländer" has a clever constructed playing-mechanism as a base for the whole game. The gameboard shows a part of the Rhine, and its shores are split in 54 small areas on each side. In addition, a stock of Castles, Churches and Towns is mixed at the beginning of the game and placed randomly at marked points of the gameboard. For each of the areas exists one card bearing its number, and these cards are shuffled at the beginning whith each player receiving 5 of these cards. The rest of the cards are forming the drawing pile, and one Joker-card is mixed into it: if that card is drawn later in the game, the stockpile needs to be shuffled again. Then the game is ready to start...

During his turn, a player plays one of his number-cards and he may place one of his knights into one of the corresponding areas (left or right side of the Rhine), provided that there still is a free area. Otherwise he may place a knight directly on the Rhine. If he cannot use the number on the card in a way corresponding to his strategy, the player may also chose to play this card as reinforcement: so he may place on of his knights into an area adjacent to one of his other knights - provided the new knight is not placed next to an opponentīs knight. If two or more knights come to stand next to each other, they form a Barony, regardless of the owners of these knights. A player may place a Baron at that Barony if he commands more knights in it than any other player, otherwise the Baronīs position will remain unoccupied until that requirement is met by a player. If a player later has more knights in the Barony than the actual Baron (this may happen by placing a new knight into a Barony or by connecting two Baronies), he may remove the Baron and become the new Baron himself. The ousted player now receives the worth of his old Barony in coins (=Victory Points), getting one point for the Baron, 1 point for each Church or Castle and 2 to 4 points for the Towns in the Barony.

Of special importance are the Castles and the Churches. If a player places a knight next to a Castle, the player owning that Barony is allowed to place one of his knights into the Castle, and this additional knight might prove to be a decisive factor later in the game. But losing dominance in that Barony will mean a double loss, since the player losing the Baron will also have to turn the Castle over to the new Baron. A player who has a church in his Barony may place a Bischopīs Counter under his Baron. The player owning most of these counters will become Archbishop, and this position allows him to bribe knights of the opposing playerīs, using the power of the Church to make them change sides.

The game ends if a player places his last knight. He ends his turn the normal way and then the final scores are calculated. Barons now are worth 5 points, and Towns, Churches and Castles count the normal way. In addition, the player owning the Archbishop receives an additional 5 points. The game is won by the player with most points - here actually a surprise may occur since the players kept their running scores secret during the game.

Despite its somehow strange looks, "Rheinländer" finally is a game from Reiner Knizia with its rules corresponding very well to the historical background in which the game is set. As in most of his other games, Reiner Knizia invented a very convincing set of rules, inviting players who love strategy-games to an entertaining evening. Furthermore, the game offers a chance not only for the best strategy gamers, but due to the random drawing of cards even other players will stand a chance against the best strategy gamers. To sum it up, Rheinländer is a very convincing game, but it would have deserved some better design concerning the graphical aspect.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany