A to Z Gaming: The River

A yellow meeple stands on a worker-placement spot with a pile of lumber tokens in front of it

We built up our settlements along the water in The River, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

The River game cover

The River
Players: 2 -4
Time: 30-45 Minutes
Designers: Sébastien Pauchon, Ismaël Perrin
Artists: Andrew Bosley
Publisher: Days of Wonder

The River is a worker placement game where players deploy settlers to produce goods, develop the lands, and build houses, monuments and community buildings. The goal is to build up the most prosperous settlement.

The River set up on the table. Each player has a playerboard depicting a river and three rows of squares, a boat with four meeples. The main board shows a pile of tiles and several spots where the workers can go

Game play

The game is set up with the main board where all players can reach it. The tiles are shuffled, placed in two piles on the board, and a number of tiles placed out equal to the number of players plus one. The award tokens and resources are placed out according to the player count. And the building cards are shuffled and a market placed out as indicated on the board. Each player gets a player board, a boat, and five meeples. four of their meeples are placed on the boat, the other is placed on the second award space on their board. A start player is chosen, and they receive the start-player marker. Then the game begins.

The game is played in rounds where players take turns placing their workers on available action spots on the main board. One action is to take resources. The player will take as many of the given resource as they have icons for it on their board. Then they place the tokens on barns on their board. They can only take as many resources as they have storage for, and the resources are limited.

The River player board showing a river snaking back and forth with three rows of places to place tiles and four columns.

Another action players can take is to claim a tile and place it on their board. The first tile must be placed in the upper left spot of their board, and then subsequent tiles follow the river across and down the board. As they place tiles, players will end up covering some of the production and storage symbols that were pre-printed on their board, but they’ll likely add new symbols with each new tile.

Other actions include claiming a building card (to build later), building a card, claiming the first player token, and swapping the positions of two tiles on their board (for game-end scoring).

The main board for The River with two stacks of tiles, three tiles laid out, and a number of spots for worker placement, including resource tokens for brick, lumber, stone and food.

Once all players have placed all their workers, the round is over. Players reclaim their workers and assess if they need to give up any (because they’ve covered specific spaces on their board). The building card market is refilled, and the tiles are cleared and refilled.

If anyone has completed five special buildings (or four in the 2-player game), or has placed all 12 tiles on their board, the game ends. Otherwise players start another round.

At the end of the game, players gain points for every set of three resources that they have left over, points for matching terrain types in each column of their board (but only starting from the top), points for special tiles, and points for the building and building awards they collected throughout the game. Whoever has the most points wins.

Player board with tiles depicting stone, lumber, and barns. Some of the tiles hold resource tokens. There is also a boat board with four yellow meeples.

My Thoughts

Andrew picked up this game on clearance a couple of years ago, because we had both wanted to try it. I had seen a little of the buzz around it, and it sounded like a cool twist on a tile-laying and resource management type game.

I do like the puzzle that choosing the tiles presents — you might end up covering a pre-printed icon on your board, so are you getting a tile that will make up for that loss? And it might also make you give up a worker, so you have to think about whether or not you’re ready for that. However, the game is fairly simple beyond that, and we have a number of other worker placement games that I would rather play.

A card shwoing a two story pioneer-style building, a list of resources, and 10 points. Next to the card are lumber, food, and brick tokens

Three Quick Questions

How is it as a 2-player game? The River is okay for two players. There’s an alternate side of the main board for 2 players to make the game a little more tight. However, I wonder if the tile selection would be better with more players, which could make it even more valuable to get the first player marker.

How about the art and component quality? The resource components and meeples are good quality. The art … it’s fine, but kind of generic “pioneer” themed.

Will this stay in my collection? If it stays in the collection, it will be for us to teach new players, rather than as something we pull out regularly on our game nights with experienced gamers. It’s fine, but not something that eclipses any of the other worker placement and resource management type games in my collection.

Player board with a yellow meeple laying down, tiles showing a barn and lumber, and severl resources on the barns. Two cards are partially tucked behind the right side of the board, each showing a pioneer-style building.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *