Hello! Welcome to this Deranged Review. Wanna see if I can do two reviews in one day? Let's go .
Many moons ago, I was in the city of Amersfoort, which'll probably not ring a bell with anyone. It's quite a beautiful city, so if you'd ever get tired of Amsterdam, you could do worse than take a stroll there . Anyway, the game Niagara had just come out, and a demo version of it caught my eye. I enjoyed it, so when I noticed the familiar box art on BGA, I could not resist...
I'll be giving grades on several aspects of the game, such as discussed here.
For ART, I look at the big picture, and how that picture looks. EASE covers ease of play and learning curve, FLEXIBILITY covers the amount of free will you have and is therefore linked to replayability. FUN might be deceptive, as it's a gut thang, but I'll try and specify in the text, and COMPONENTS should be self-explanatory. I'll not say a lot about rules and specifics - you can find those out for yourself.
The Game Itself: Diamonds & Whirls
Paddle to gemstone-stash. Pick up gems. Paddle back. Repeat! Right combination of stones wins.
-The game looks really good. The 3d falls are well done, and the gems look marvellous. It's all just very well balanced between adventurous but not distracting. The brightly coloured box really spices up your shelf, too!
-There's a few catches to take in account (#1), but really the game is not too difficult to understand. Most people will not have a problem with the main mechanics after the first few rounds, and bar those few catches there's not really all that much difficulty, rule-wise.
The learning curve sets in when you start trying to remember which cards have been played, and scanning other's piles for win conditions. There's enough there to keep you busy for a while .
-There are a lot of moving parts, canoes bobbing around, river flowing... there're certainly a lot of choices to be made, that's for sure. It mostly depends on what everyone else is doing, too!
The paddling cards only return to your hand once they're all used, so you can sort of follow what cards can still be played (if you pay attention to that sort of thing, that is), and you'll need to be careful not to spend your high card early and keep on
swimming paddling like crazy just to not go over the edge!
You'll never really know how hard the river will flow, so all planning is for now, and you can steal each other's gemstones while furiously paddling to stay ahead of the stream. There's an element of planning ahead and counting, an element of outguessing your co-geologists, which both amount to real choices based on uncertain information.
-While you'll need a fair bit of focus if you want to succesfully show off your gem collection to the ladies back home, there's ample opportunity to
annoy others enjoy yourself both on and around the table. The theme resonates through the game in a way that gives rise banter. Boat jokes, gem jokes, falling jokes... there are plenty of ways you can use the setting to amuse yourself - and others.
Besides that, the game really is fun to play! The aforementioned furious paddling, the stealing of gemstones... the tension to see if the others all played high numbers, causing you to go overboard...
It has a slightly lower DCF (#3) than other, similar games, as it requires more thinking and has slightly less direct payoff in the "awesome plays" department.
-Well the components are simply stellar. It's much like Colt Express, in that the components are extremely good (bordering on gimmicky), but the game hiding underneath is actually pretty good, too!
Fun to play.
Takes a bit more calculating than similar games. "s just slightly harder to track, or at least I'm not as experienced yet .
Niagara is about counting - a lot of counting. If I use this card now, then I might be able to use that one later... I used a "no guts, no glory" approach which left me in third place as I lost one canoe :/.
The game reminds me of Diamant and Colt Express, as it is push your luck mixed with semi-known programming. It has enough depth of choice and decision that it'll remain enjoyable for quite a bit.
If you have Diamant, this one'll not replace it, as it's quite a bit more thinky and slightly less "broke or bust" - but Diamant is a bit more accessible and goes better with beer. If you have Colt Express, this won't really replace it as Colt has far more programming and interaction, while Niagara has more counting and accounting. If you have both, see if you can find someone who has Niagara so you can try it before you spend your hard-earned cash - but it might just suit you fine as it fits in snuggly between these two gems (#2).
Niagara is certainly worth a try, no matter what - the streaming water is brilliantly implemented, and it has both interference (which I love) and opportunity for making great & sneaky plays (which I also love).
As usual, please give your opinion in the comments .
Oh, by the way, I am Deranged. I like to have fun with (and around) boardgames, and have played many of them over the years. I've been furniture in my FLGS for years ^^. I tend to like old games; well, I tend to like good games, most of which have been around for bit ^^. I've written 78 reviews as of yet, which you can access here, and a handful of random topics discussed here. If you want me to write a review for you or recommend me a game, there's this neat little envelop near my avatar!
#1: Downstream stealing. Can't be done.
#2: Come to think of it, they all use gems.
#3: Dr. Claw Factor. It's in there somewhere (under replayability)
Made it. Easily.