Please note that the folks at Minion Games provided a review copy of this game for review purposes
Nile by Minion Games, designed by Daniel Callister and James Mathe, is a card game for 2-5 players.
This is a card drafting game where you get to plant up to 5 different crops represented by wheat, flax, papyrus, lettuce and castor. The object of the exercise is to harvest crops more effectively than the other players whilst trying to do this you need to try and anticipate when the plague of locusts may hit which may mean you lose your largest crop. On top of that, you can speculate as to which crops will be harvested during the next flood season.
The artwork is very nice and evocative of ancient Egypt. Nothing extravagant or overly creative, but very nice and clear. Unfortunately the card quality is a problem as they start to wear pretty quickly and start to bend and have damaged sides. Shame really but this doesn’t mean there isn’t a good game here. Get card sleeves if you plan on a number of plays.
Ok to the basic process is to go through the deck once for each player. Even for 5 players it all moves pretty quickly so don’t be concerned. The rules weren’t very clear for what is a relatively simple game. a flowchart and perhaps some visual diagrams would help but to be honest, a little extra time reading it through and we were there. Players first pull a flood card, indicating which crop(s) can be harvested to help you build up your storage. Then you can play 2 cards to plant, trade at the market or make an offering to the God Hapi.
You can alternatively play speculation cards which allow you to see if certain crops will come up for harvest next flood season giving you extra cards. As you plant cards, you can build up your field but this can be risky as the Plague of locusts card can come up wiping out the largest crop or equally largest crops. At first we thought the game would take quite a while but it really moved quickly after going through the deck for the first time.
Ultimately you go through the deck the requisite number of times and the winner is determined by a good mechanism where players separate their stored crops in 5 crop piles from left (least even if zero) to right (most). Then they compare their stored crop piles. Whichever player has the most cards in their in their left-most pile is the winner.
Did it work for me?
Yes it did. The process and mechanics worked very well and quickly enough to immediately play a second game. The cards a clear, the choices faced are determined by the cards you play from your hand and you can take steps to change your fortune through trading and offerings as well as speculating. So although there is a heavy luck element, you can try to influence things which lowers the impact of pure luck. I really enjoyed playing Nile overall. Its just a shame the card quality and not so clear rules lets the game down. Having said that. I would definitely say it is worth purchasing (but get card sleeves) and is a pretty good game.
The mechanics are relatively simple and yes I would say that 8 + makes sense. I can see families enjoying this for game night.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6 out of 10