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Subject: Fun, Thematic, Riverboat Racing rss

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Gregory Bay
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Riverboat racing on the Mississippi is a theme that I am surprised has not been used more in games. There is so much myth and lore surrounded by the Great River to constitute more games around the U.S.'s largest river, and the worlds third largest, but the only game that is there on the horizon, and has been for some time, is Mississippi Queen. This is not a bad thing because Mississippi Queen is a fun game that offers quick, simple river boat racing with a modular board offering each play a different race evertime.

Included in the box are are five river boats each with a set (two) of river boat wheels that keeps the statistics of for the boat, a set of plastic passengers dressed in their Sunday's best, stickers for the river boat stats, the modular board pieces, movement dice, ruler, and the rule book.

Upon opening the game you have to take the river boat wheels, one red and one black, and apply the matching sticker, matching by color, to each wheel. Upon applying all the stickers to each boat you are ready to open the rule book and see how this baby plays.

The rule book is well written on nice glossy paper and does a great job explaining the game play. There are plenty of pictures and illustrations of gameplay to answer any questions that a player might have. THe rule book is written in two parts, a beginner game and the full game.This approach does a good job of explaining the mechanics of the game while allowing players of all skill level and diverse age to jump right in. The difference between the beginner game and the full game is the passengers which will be explained during the gameplay section of this review.

The game play is very fluid and the mechanics work very well for a racing game and especially a riverboat racing game. Let me explain. Starting the game (here we will start with the beginner game) players pull out the starting board along with a random board module to set up the start area. Players select a player order and place their boats on the start board with the corresponding number that they are in the player order. Player one puts his boat on the one, two on the two, and so on and so forth.

Before we kick off the race lets talk about the river boats and how they work. Each river boat contains to "wheels" that contain a number one through six. Each boat has a red set of numbers and a black set. The red set represents the boats "speed," how many spaces the boat can move this turn. The black number represents the coal supply and coal is used to pay for special actions on a players turn. I will demonstrate how this works in a moment. If a player runs out of coal they automatically lose. Very important! The goal of the game is to be the first player to reach the finish line without running out of coal or running aground.

1. Each boat starts with a full supply of coal (the number six) and on the lowest speed (the number one). On a players turn a player chooses the speed he wants to go by raising or lowering his speed. A player gets to raise or lower the speed by one for free. A player can spend coal to raise and lower his speed by more than one by paying the difference of the raise in coal. For example a riverboat is on the speed of 1 and a player want to raise the speed to four. The player gets the raise from one to two for free but has to pay one coal for each additional raise. The last two raises, speed three and speed four, would cost the player two coal.

One coal is spent it can never be regained. Spend it wisely.

2. Players move thier riverboats the number of spaces selected on their red speed dial. If a players speed is four the player has to move four spaces. No more no less.

- The river boats are limited on movement as well. For free on each turn each riverboat can only mover a quarter turn. Any more movement costs you coal and if a player is going to fast and is going to hit ground he may have to spend all his coal trying to reposition himself to not run aground. Once a player runs aground they are done.

Coal is the commodity that must be guarded and used wisely. Spending to much early on and you will not have it when you need it but not spending any at all and you will lose because you will not be able to keep up with the pack.

3. The dice is rolled when a player reaches the end of the river module they are on. THe direction of the dice, right, left, or straight, determine which way the river is going and where to put the next modules. The modules are very nice and are dummy proof (meaning no arguements are required) when connecting the new module with the former because they fit together like a puzzle.

Each player keeps taking turns in order until the first, second, third place, and so on are determined.

The full game adds one more element to the game and really is the best way to play and that added element is those pretty passengers that will be picked up along the way.

4. During the full game players will have to pick up two passengers and be the first to the finish line to win, and this one aspect changes the game and makes it shine. Let me explain.

Many racing games is all about speed and maximizing performance. Riverboat Queen is about strategy and knowing when and where to spend that precious coal. Every time a tile is revealed if it has a dock symbol on it passengers are put there according to how many players are playing. To be able to pick up the passenger you have to land exactly in front of the dock and you have to be going the speed of one. You cannot just blow your coal and race but have to strategize and get those passengers because once they are passed you cannot pick them up again. Also the player in the lead faces the danger of not knowing where the next piece is and running aground. If a player has a move of six, moves to the end of a piece, draws a tile that is going in the opposite direction he is going to blow a lot of precious coal to not run aground. A lot of strategy and timing involved.

Final thoughts.

Riverboat Queen is a great racing game. The theme is well represented and the game is one of deliberation, some guesswork, and a little luck. Having to plan when to pick up the passengers, slow down, and blow the coal for a needed boost makes for some wonderful challenges.

The modular board provides a different experience everytime with a different river everytime. Very quality.

One complaint that I have is the stickers included for the stat wheels do not stick at all, at least in my set so I have to use some super glue. My only complaint.

This game is one that sees a lot of table time. Involves many different ages and quality of gamers, and provides a wonderful time racing down the Mississippi. If this is a theme that you are interested in or you like different types of racing games I strongly encourage folks to pick this one up.

Thank you!
Gregory
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Jens KH
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Nice review. Let me chime in with a couple of additions.

baymonkey wrote:
There is so much myth and lore surrounded by the Great River to constitute more games around the U.S.'s largest river, and the worlds third largest, but the only game that is there on the horizon, and has been for some time, is Mississippi Queen.

Not quite. There is Mississippi, for example.

baymonkey wrote:
If a player runs out of coal they automatically lose.

That's not correct. Running out of coal is fine, it just means you'll not be able to do any advanced maneuvering anymore, which will most likely really hurt you in the endgame. (And, of course, any time you'd need to spend coal to not run aground from now on means you'll be out.)

baymonkey wrote:
One coal is spent it can never be regained.

Unless you're playing with the expansion.

baymonkey wrote:
Many racing games is all about speed and maximizing performance. Riverboat Queen is about strategy and knowing when and where to spend that precious coal. [...] Also the player in the lead faces the danger of not knowing where the next piece is and running aground. If a player has a move of six, moves to the end of a piece, draws a tile that is going in the opposite direction he is going to blow a lot of precious coal to not run aground.

That, I guess, is the biggest gripe I have with the game. I agree with the part that the decision when and where to spend coal is the most important one, but not so much about the strategy bit. The fact that the player in the lead always faces the danger of running aground on the new tiles means that he usually can't simply run full speed ahead, which in turn means it's usually pretty easy for the other players to catch up again when they have fallen behind due to picking up passengers.

In the end, it mostly boils down to clever positioning for the last one or two river segments.

baymonkey wrote:
Involves many different ages and quality of gamers, and provides a wonderful time racing down the Mississippi.

Fully agreed. Being able to play this with different age groups is certainly a plus here.
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Gregory Bay
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Thank you for the clarification! Yes running out of coal does not mean the end but I have never seen a person win with no coal unless they run out at the very end.

I have not played with the expansion. Is it a worthy purchase?

Thank you,
Gregory

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Richard Young
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The expansion was called Mississippi Queen: The Black Rose, and has long been out of print. Good luck finding it. The most important addition to the base game was the ability to restock your coal supply. If you are a devoted fan of the game you might be willing to track it down and pay whatever the going rate will be. If you only play the game now and then, I doubt it would be worth it...
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Jason Miller
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Bubslug wrote:
The expansion was called Mississippi Queen: The Black Rose, and has long been out of print.

Unless you buy the German-language Goldseiber edition.
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Jens KH
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baymonkey wrote:
I have not played with the expansion. Is it a worthy purchase?

I'd say no. It doesn't really change the game much, only makes it longer.

Kestril wrote:
Bubslug wrote:
The expansion was called Mississippi Queen: The Black Rose, and has long been out of print.

Unless you buy the German-language Goldseiber edition.

What makes you think it's different with that version? Same problem here, the expansion is usually selling for a lot more than the base game.
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Jason Miller
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fizzle wrote:
baymonkey wrote:
I have not played with the expansion. Is it a worthy purchase?

I'd say no. It doesn't really change the game much, only makes it longer.

Kestril wrote:
Bubslug wrote:
The expansion was called Mississippi Queen: The Black Rose, and has long been out of print.

Unless you buy the German-language Goldseiber edition.

What makes you think it's different with that version? Same problem here, the expansion is usually selling for a lot more than the base game.

Ah, I didn't know it was OOP in Germany - I bought it ~ year ago, on-line, from Germany and I do remember it being expensive, but I probably thought it was expensive due to the currency rates at the time.
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Joseph
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Thanks for reviewing this great old game!

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Gregory Bay
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Thank you!

Mississippi Queen is a favorite at our house.

Greg
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Morten Friis
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Great review - thanks!

This game have been sitting on my shelf for years, without ever being played. I'll give it a try at our next boardgame night
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