3 Mar 2014

First Time Playing: Dos Rios

This is another one of the games I bought off another member of my gaming group, this one I hadn't even heard of before, but I looked it up on the web to see what kind of mechanics it had, and since it was worker placement, I decided to get it. Thankfully, when this one came up at a game night, one of the other people already knew it, so it wasn't up to me to teach them. In Dos Rios you are manipulating two rivers by building dams, so that the water will flow to areas occupied by your player pieces or houses in an attempt to get money and/or wood.

Before the game starts, the first two players each set up a river flowing down the board. There are rules according to how the river may flow, like it may only move in one of the three downwards directions and when faced with different types of land, the flow will default to the lowest point. Then players take turns placing pieces one at a time onto the board before the game starts. Tiles are then lined up to determine what type of land, or which river give rewards at any player's turn.

At your turn, you get six moves in total, which you can distribute across your player pieces at your own leisure. You may not move into a spot where an opponent has a player piece unless you move into that spot with a larger number of pieces, or you move in with the same number of pieces - only from a higher ground (woods to flatland or mountain to woods or flatland). When you do, the opponent's playing piece is moved back down to the village at the bottom of the board. You may never move into a spot where an opponent has a house or a hacienda (but with a house you may move through the spot, whereas the hacienda blocks even that).

In addition to that you may build dams to manipulate a river where one of your pieces are standing in an attempt to get it to flow where your pieces are standing (there must always be at least one open passage for the river to flow, so once the other two options are blocked you must manipulate the river from further up to change the flow) and away from places where your opponents' pieces are standing. If you have money you may also choose to build a house or a hacienda at any given spot where you have a player token.

At the end of your turn, you take the tile at the end of the row - and you may choose to either use it to reap rewards (all players with pieces on that river or type of land will get rewards, not just the player whose turn it is - and a tile gives the same reward regardless of how many player pieces you have on it) - or you may choose to move it to the back of the row if you determine it doesn't benefit you or will benefit an opponent significantly more. There are two robber tiles in the stack, which has to be resolved immediately when revealed. On the river in question the robber will move down the river in question and chase the top three player pieces back to the village - if a player piece is standing on the same spot as their hacienda, that piece is skipped.

The game ends when a player has managed to either build a hacienda and all four of their houses or when they have managed to build a hacienda and three houses all located on a river bank. When playing with my friends, I actually came really close to winning, having managed to manipulate a river from one of the highest point possible in order to get it to flow onto my houses - however I was still one note short from building my hacienda and the next player managed to build theirs.

It was definitely a fun game, I really enjoyed the concept of manipulating the river (I seem to have thing for sabotaging for other players in games), so I'm very happy with the purchase. As for how newcomer friendly it is, it's doable, but I think they would benefit with being familiar with worker placement before taking on this one - that way it will only be the river manipulation that is new and it will be easier to take in. 

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