Saturday, March 31, 2007



Rheinländer certainly looks impressive from the box art but the contents do not meet your expectations. The game isn't too bad - I did find myself actually starting to understand the underlying strategy needed to win as time went by (normally this doesn't happen for me). The pieces, though, do detract from the visual experience and not surprisingly a bad-looking game can real kill off people's enthusiasm, no matter how good the game-play. Here you have plastic figures (representing dukes), round wooden counters (troops), grey plastic blocks (bastions), and a very large wooden bowling pin (the arch-bishop). We felt that some consistency would have been better here. All plastic would have been fine, or all wood, but not mixing them. Makes you wonder if they run out of money when selecting the components and had to buy cheap stuff.
The game revolves around players placing troops on areas along the river and building up duchies of occupied territories. To take out neighbouring players, you simply expand up to their duchy and assimilate them in a Borg-like fashion. The areas you get to place in is based on random cards you pick up so you can be screwed by the luck of the draw.
Each player does have bastions which can be placed in any areas to make it neutral for the rest of the game and so blocking other players taking them over. This just seemed to be a bodge - I expect they found in testing that the game ended or became one-sided too quickly and couldn't come up with a neat way to modify the game mechanics. Grey blocks that look like concrete and cannot be moved do not fit well.
All that said, I would still play the game again.
I'm still surprised nobody said anything rude about the arch-bishop marker but then that may just be me...


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