Rivers, Roads & Rails
List Price: $25.00
Your Price: $19.95
(Worth 1,995 Funagain Points!)
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This cooperative matching game is fascinating for all family members! By matching the tiles end-to-end, players create a continuous network of rivers, roads and railways. A charming picture of the countryside emerges as the tiles are put into play.
Each tile shows a section of river, road or railroad or any combination of two or three of these. In turn each player must try to add a tile that matches one of the branching ends of the expanding network of rivers, roads and rails that emerges during play. The winner is the first to use up all of his or her tiles or the player with the fewest tiles remaining. Players may help one another choose the best moves, and tiles may be divided between two groups for team competition.
This game can be used as a puzzle game (thereby successfully amusing one bored person in your house on a rainy afternoon), but can work well competitively with some additions/alterations to the rules. Be creative! You can shorten the game by only making a player draw a tile if he/she cannot play a tile from his/her hand (have players start game by drawing more tiles-- one set of rules says to draw 10 apiece). You can make more possibilities for add-ons as well, so players have more options throughout the game. For instance, you might say that if a tile contains a picture of a person or persons, that tile may be added to on its blank sides (blank side to blank side). You can also limit the number of tiles that can go in a straight row (only 10 to a row, for instance, before a player must start a new row). You might also assign point values to some of the tiles and keep score throughout the game. Tiles with a motorized vehicle might be deemed environmentally harmful, and a player needing to play one of these tiles might lose 2 points per vehicle pictured. Tiles with trees on them, on the other hand, might EARN a player 1 point per tree. Players might be given the option on each turn of playing a tile and passing, drawing a tile and passing, or exchanging a tile (any exchange must be 1:2 ratio-- so a player may put a tile back in the draw pile but must draw two more to replace it instead of only one) and passing (so the players can get rid of any point-reduction tiles). In this way, the game can remain challenging for players of all ages and abilities. Have your family work together to come up with additional rules!
The thing I like about this game is that it is simple to learn and allows kids to be a little competitive but mostly creative as they place pieces side by side to create a different path every time. On each turn, a player places a square so that in connects with the other pieces already played. The piece must match up, either continuing of cutting of existing rivers, roads, and railroad tracks. The challenge is finding a piece that works. I like the fun pictures on each piece. Some may have just a meandering river, while others depict a car wreck, a family swim party, or a small town.
It held my attention not only long enough to play game or two but also when I grew older than the ages it's recommended for.
Just played 3rd game in 4 years with children and was reminded why we do not like it. There are not enough tiles with multiple sides to add onto and we ended up with just 2 possible plays until late in the game. My 6 year old got tired after 35 min and gave up, and 15 min later we all quit. Might try it next time minus some 2 sided tiles.
Rivers, Road and Rails fails as a game. The game is long. Even if your kids play at a fairly reasonable clip (15 seconds per turn), the game will take a half-hour. This is too long for young kids.
With such a long playing time, you might wonder if the game were perhaps targetted toward older kids. Older kids could handle a half-hour game, but I seriously doubt it would sustain their interest for that long. It simply doesn't have enough complexity - the tiles, for the most part, only have pathways that run in parallel. What this means is that rather that building a complex network of paths, you generally end up with one long path with two ends. So on your turn, you typically have only two places you can play, and you either have a matching tile or you don't. For older kids, the gameplay would be fairly trivial.
Although Rivers, Roads and Rails fails as a game, it still works quite well as an informal activity for kids. The artwork on the pieces is quite nice, and we have had some fun just spreading the tiles out on the floor working together as a team to assemble a path. (The tiles are relatively big, so you'll need to do this on a floor unless you have a very large table). We'd do this for about ten minutes, and then put it away once we grew tired of the activity. Used in this way, Rivers, Roads and Rails can be quite fun.
So Rivers, Roads, and Rails has been booted out of my game closet, and has found its way onto the shelf with our other construction toys (blocks, lincoln logs, etc.) because that's where it really belongs.