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Subject: Nile - A review of play with my lunchtime group rss

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"Nile" is a straight forward card game for 2 - 5 players. I've been playing this with the guys at work during lunch and it's proved itself very popular. Our first couple of games went quite slow but now we're easily getting two games in during the lunch break with minutes to spare.

The cards in the game represent five basic crops, Lettuce, Castor, Wheat, Papyrus and Flax. During play you'll be playing cards of the various types out on the table in front of you into your "fields". Of course it's not that simple!

At the start of your turn, you turn over a "flood" card. The crop shown on the Flood card is then harvested by all players that have that crop planted. So if you have a field with three Wheat cards in it and the flood card was "Wheat" you would take the top Wheat card from your field and place that in your score pile. You'll be collecting cards of the various types like this throughout the game.

Once the flood has been dealt with you can "trade". There are two types of trade neither of which is actually trading with other players. The first type of "trade" is where you discard two cards and draw one from the deck, hoping to get a card that you need. The other trade type is to discard two cards and turn over a new Flood card causing extra Harvests.

After the trades you get to plant new fields by playing cards straight to the table in front of you or into existing fields. You can plant two matching cards ( for instance two Wheat ) as a new field. You could also plant two cards of two different crops ( one of each ). Additionally you can any number of cards that match into fields you already have planted.You can't however plant just anything! You cant plant any cards that match the current "Flood" card, and you cant plant a new field unless playing more cards than any other player has on the table in that crop. So if the Flood card is Lettuce, I can't play that, and if any other player currently has Flax planted I can't play that... unless I can plant two Flax and he only has one. If you do manage to plant a new and bigger field the other players have to discard their smaller field!

The last thing you do on your turn is to draw two cards.

You go through the draw deck once for each player, and as players are constantly adding cards to their score pile each iteration gets quicker as the deck is shrinking.

There are two more card types that add flavour. A single "Locusts" card when drawn makes the player with the biggest field (largest number of cards in that field) discard the entire field. The other type of card is "Speculation". On your turn you can play up to two speculation cards. These cards have two crops on them, if the next flood card matches either then you immediately get to draw three cards into your hand.

At the end of the game, you sort your score pile into the different crops and score one point for each card in your smallest pile. If you haven't got one of every crop, you score zilch!

That's it. Simple stuff, yet it is tactical and you will be making plans and actioning decisions during play.

Some anecdotes for you.

I discovered that one player was tracking what crops I had harvested and had deduced that I hadn't any Papyrus, so he made great efforts to keep a big field of Papyrus in front of him, denying me any score at all at the end. It worked too!

During another game I was again trying to harvest a Papyrus, if I got it I would have at least one of every crop type scored. I had a two Papyrus field in play and was very aware that the Locust card had not come out yet. So to protect that field I built up a field of four wheat ( so if the Locust came out they would take Wheat and not my precious Papyrus ). A few turns later I still hadn't scored it, so started discarding cards to generate new floods and did manage to get Papyrus in flood, Huzzar!.

In a similar incident I wanted to plant a field of Castor but one of my opponents had a two Castor field. So again I started discarding to cause Floods and that paid off, I flooded Castor, reducing the size of his field. Then flooded Lettuce and was able to play out my two Castor in a new field.

On a number of occasions I've felt the pressure of trying to score that last type of crop and watching the deck shrink far too quickly, adding a level of interest to the game, a tenseness.

In summary, I'm really quite taken by the game and it's proved very popular with my group.

Oh and by the way, the best number of players is 3.
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Geoff Hall
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I've played this one a couple of times (one of my friends has a copy), once with 3 players and once with 5. Both games were enjoyable but I definitely thought that it worked better with 3. One thing to note though is that the card stock is of terrible quality (at least in my friend's copy). It started to show obvious damage after literally one shuffle and he was forced to sleeve it to stop the cards disintegrating.
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