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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.
I need to start by stating that Canyon is essentially a board game version of ‘Oh Heck’, but you may know this trick taking card game by one of a thousand other names it has been given over the years. I must also state that the game play of Canyon is essentially this card game re-themed to a board. If you haven’t been blown away by this introduction then don’t despair as Canyon is still worth a look.
The theme for Canyon comes straight from its name. Each player controls a canoe and the aim is to be the first player to successfully make your way around the canyon and through the rapids at the end to the finish point. In addition to the board and canoes, the game consists of 50 cards in 5 colours (valued 1-10 in each colour). These are the suits used for playing and taking tricks. Finally each player receives 5 bid cards ranging from value 0-4.
The first hand begins with the deck being shuffled and each player receiving 10 cards. A final card is drawn from the deck and turned face up to display the trump colour\suit for the hand. The player’s then make a bid on how many tricks they will take by selecting one of their bid cards. Of course this selection is kept secret and all the players must reveal their selection at the same time. High bids usually signify a hand full of trumps or high valued cards. It is possible to bid for more than 4 tricks by combining and adding bid cards together.
The hand is then played out by a lead player (person after the dealer) playing a card. The other players then play in order by following suit, throwing off or trumping in. The winner of the trick then leads for the next trick. The hand ends when the last trick is won and the players consult their bids to see if they were successful. If a player’s bid was accurate they earn 1, 2 or 3 bonus moves plus one point per trick. The total is how far they can move their canoe around the canyon. Player’s that missed their bid may move one place for each trick won.
This is essentially the game of Canyon. A track in the top corner of the board uses a marker that is moved after each hand. This shows how many cards are dealt each hand and just as in ‘Up and Down the River’, one less card is dealt each hand until a hand only has one card dealt to each player. Future hands then begin to climb again towards ten.
The final addition to Canyon is the use of the Rapids at the end of the canyon. These are used to help slow down the winners and allow the players at the rear to catch up and make the game close. Canoes can only move in the rapids if the player gets their bid correct. If not then the canoe moves down the rapids towards the bottom of the board. If a canoe drops off the bottom, it will go back to a cave at the start of the rapids.
The Final Word
Canyon is really just a clever remake of an already popular game, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. My family have enjoyed ‘Oh Heck’ for years and we will play this version over the original any day. A great game if you have a mum like me who prefers more traditional fare.
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
The card game is also known as Oh Hell!. It has a new rethemed version known as Wizard.
This is very much a cardgame with the board as a scoring mechanism. Having said that, there is a slightly higher level of strategy in Canyon, due to the ability to block other players (due to player order) and the use of bonus movement (especially in the waterfall area).
Turn order can have a bearing on how far you may move and this may have a bearing on what you actually bid.
I would always play this in preference to the straight card game.