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Game: Dos Rios (Mayfair Games)
Submitted By: Stan Hilinski
Date: 5/15/2004 5:32:00 AM
Kosmos and Mayfair just released this new game, and I snapped it up as soon as it was available. I had heard it was a meaty gamer's game and could play two, plus it looked beautiful. Dos Rios (Two Rivers) was designed by Franz-Benno Delonge, who has also designed Big City,
Hellas, and Transamerica. Susan and I have played it a handful of times so far (she has won every game), and it certainly is no Transamerica. It is my kind of game: a heavier, gamier game, and it's unlike anything Mr Delonge had done before.
The board is a map of some central/south american landscape. There are mountains and springs at the top (north) stretching down to the city and two lakes in the deep south. The board is an outer frame into which you randomly insert hexagons of hills, forests, and farmland.
The starting player then lays blue water strips to form two rivers, the Rio Verde in the west and the Rio Moreno in the east (which I started calling the "Rita Moreno" even to my annoyance much less Susan's) that run north to south. Each player get a handful of nice wooden bits: 6 little people figures called campesinos, a hacienda, 4 casas, and two dams. To win the game, you must get all (or almost all in a special case) your buildings on the board. This costs money though, and you need to harvest crops to raise money.
To harvest crops, you need to have campesinos or buildings on farmlands where the river runs through. (You get wood from forests on rivers, which gets you dams.) And that's your goal: moving your guys and building your buildings where the rivers are. And that's where it gets interesting because those rivers can move!
The most interesting mechanic in the game is building dams, which cause the rivers to run over different landscapes. It's a constant battle of rerouting rivers away from your opponent pieces and through your own. In addition, you can drive away your opponent's campesinos
by either moving into their spaces from higher ground or with more campesinos. This sends them back down to the city and gives you that choice bit of farmland.
You turn consists of moving all your campesinos a total of six steps during which you can build casas or your hacienda if you have the rios or build dams if you have the wood pieces. (Hint: don't run out of wood!)
Then you either execute or delay the current harvest card. There's a small stack of harvest cards, and one more than the number of players are laid out in a queue. Thus you can always see what your harvest card will be on your turn. Harvest cards will be things like "harvest all wood and farms on the river Verde" or "harvest all tobacco farms on both rivers." When you harvest, everyone harvests, so you have to determine if you want to do it or delay, in which case the harvest card is put at the end of the queue.
To complicate matters even more, there are two desperado cards hidden in the harvest deck, and when they are revealed, bandits come down the appropriate river, driving away some campesinos on that river, so being in the far north on the river is risky.
In our last game between Susan and me, we both set up on hills high up in the north country with me concentrating on the Rio Moreno. I focused on operating far north where there are more hills and woods in the hopes of controlling the rivers in my direction, the east. The map had a rich farm belt in the southwest, which I left to Susan, hoping that I could keep the rivers from her. She went first, and on my first turn I send all her campesinos packing back to the city. I then tried to control the entire Rio Moreno in the east, and I diverted the Rio Verde to merge into the Moreno so I had both rivers under my control. Susan fought back by building up the farm belt with casas, and then we
seesawed back and forth on diverting the Verde on our turns, her to provide water to the farmbelt and me to pull it back into the Moreno.
I blundered badly late in the game by using up all my dams. Susan saw this and d