Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Roberto Fraga


No. of Players:
2 - 6



Roberto Fraga's game River Dragons challenges the players to participate in a dangerous race in the Mekong delta, running over planks bridging the river and hoping not to be hampered by the mighty River Dragons. The gameboard features a total of 6 small islands which are distributed equally around its outer edge, and on each of these islands the figure of one of the up to six players will begin the game. It will be the aim of each player to reach the opposite island, and for this purpose first stones must be placed on sandbanks within the river, and afterwards planks can be placed on the stones to allow the passage of the player figures.

Each player possesses a set of six planks of different lengths which can be placed, but actions may not be taken at random but instead each player has to "program" the five actions his character will take during the upcoming round of play. The programming-mechanism is similar to Roborally, with each of the players possessing a deck of action cards from which five cards must be chosen and placed face down in front of the player in an order in which the player desires to perform the actions. However, when everybody is ready, the players will take turns performing one action each, so that first all players will perform their first action before everybody performs their second action etc.

The action cards rank from the placement of one or two stones to the placement of one or two planks from the players' stockpiles, but when placing a plank the players need to make a good estimation which length may be needed, because a plank which is too short to bridge the desired gap between one stone and another will drop into the water and is removed from the game. Of course, the players also may use movement action cards to move their character for one or two planks, but here the tricky part begins. Each player wants to move out quickly, but with the planks criss-crossing each other in the middle of the river it will be unavoidable to run over planks placed by opposing players. However, only one figure may stand on each plank, and so the player figures will be blocking each other. Even the placement of additional planks to circumvent this may not be possible because no more than three planks may end on one stone, and so it may happen that a player must use his programmed movement action to move his character backwards, or - even worse - if the character cannot move at all the character falls off the plank and must restart his race on his own home island. A jumping action may be used to get over a blocking character, but using this card may be dangerous because the card only will work if there still is a blocking character which can be jumped. If the character has moved out of the way before the jumping action comes to bear, the character who wanted to make the jump once again lands in the water and must be returned to his island of origin.

In addition to the cards already mentioned, the players also possess two types of cards which may be used to hamper other characters. One card may be used to take back a stone or a plank from the gameboard, and in case of a plank the plank even may originally come from another player, provided that the plank is not occupied by any character and that the taking player does not have a plank of identical length in his stockpile. This taking back of a plank may result in nasty surprises, and so a player may find his figure facing a gap which had not been there some seconds ago.

The other kinds of obstacle are the aforementioned River Dragons. A player's set of action cards contains one River Dragon in the colour of each opposing player, and a player may place one of these River Dragon cards as one of his five programmed action cards. When the dragon is revealed, the player who is matching the colour of this particular River Dragon is not allowed to perform his current action, and this once again may result in a planning disaster which may end with an involuntary swimming lesson.

As you can see, River Dragons is a game where several playing skills come together. On the one hand you have an element of speculation, trying to forsee which cards will be used by your opponents in order to find a proper programming for your own character. On the other hand, the players also will need an eye for measures, since nothing is more unnerving than seeing a much needed plank go down the river because it was too short. Already these elements provide for a quite entertaining game, but it will get even more interesting when the players have played one or two games of River Dragons and begin to see the developments on the whole gameboard. Due to the rhythm of each player performing one action, several factors need to be considered especially when some characters meet in the center of the board, and here a bit of experience helps to prevent an unforeseen breakthrough of a character. All these elements make River Dragons a rather enjoyable family game!

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany