Nile Deluxor and The Boss, two 2010 release that caught my attention at Essen. Part 1

As some of you have noticed reading my Fathers in the Messe reports, this year I attend The SPIEL together with my daughter. That means that I was not able to crawl for novelty as usual or deep hard core gamers releases but, in the other side, I got the possibility to stop and play a lot of “little” games, usually floating under my radar. I really enjoyed two of them that were both 2010 releases: Nile Deluxor, from Minion Games, that is actually a reprint of Nile including the expansion and The Boss, from Blackrock Editions. Here my impressions on the first one,.

Nile Deluxor: harvesting fields in the old Egypt

Designed by: Daniel Callister and James Mathe
Published by: Minion Games
2-6 players, age 8+, 30 minutes
Reviewd by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

Starting from the great Agricola success farming and harvesting games had got a new era of interest. In Nile Deluxor players are managing their fields trying to harvest crops as much as possible: first in variety and than in quantity. Every turn the Nile flood indicating which crop/crops could be harvested. Players can also build monuments offering some bonus. In the end the winner is the player having the most card in the crop type with the least cards.

The game rules are really simple. The deck is composed by crops (7 types in a 6 players game, less with less players), stones, speculation cards and The Plague of Locust Card. Each player tart with 5 cards. The turn consist in 5 phases: Flood, Harvest. Trade, Plant (o Speculate) and Draw: than is the turn of the player on the left.

In the Flood phase you just draw the first card of the deck: usually it is a crop card. The player with that crop had to Harvest (phase 2) the top card of this crop. Harvesting is actually the only way to score: harvested cards go on your storage pile, face dawn, and are scored in the end of the game.
In the Trade phase you can discard any two crop and/or speculation cards from your hand and draw a card (Trade) or discard two to Flood (and Harvest) another time. Actually this special flood is brought to you by Hapi, thanks to the crops donation (Offering). You can go on Trading and Offering as much as you want. You can also use cards from your storage pile, that is not a so bad idea. Remember that your final score is the amount of crop you have least so it could be useful to trade some cards from the crops you have most.

Now you have to Plant (if you want and you can). The planting rules are quite simple: you can’t plant crop of the type just flooded and you can’t play crop already planted by another player unless you are able to beat him. In the game only one player can have a crop of each type so if you want to plant Grapes you need to have more Grapes cards that the player actually having this crop.
You can do only one of this actions:

Planting 2 of more cards of all the same crop type
Planting exactly two cards of differing crops (one of which may be planted into an existing field)
Planting any number of crops to any number of fields that already exist in front of you.

If you beat another player field he has to discard all the cards of that crop in front of him.

Finally you Draw two cards from the deck.

The game goes playing the draw pile a number of time equal to the number of players (when the draw pile ends shuffle the discard pile and make a new draw pile). Of course the draw pile become smaller and smaller as the game goes on and you can play Nile Deluxor in just 30-40 minutes.

There are 3 types of cards in the deck we have still to describe: Speculation, Stones and The Plague of the Locust.

Speculation cards are actually indicating two different types of crops. When you draw in the Flood phase it means that two different crops hare harvested and this two crops can’t be planted. You can play one or two speculation cards in your Plant phase instead of planting crops. If the next flood card is one of the crop indicated in the played card/cards you can draw 3 cards from the deck. Actually speculating is a sort of back-up action you can do when you have no real useful actions.

Stones cards are like crops cards and are used to build monuments. There are 3 monument: Sphinx. Obelix and Wall. When you “plant” stones you decide which monument take. If you want a monument already played you need to beat the other player “field”. Having a filed with a monument offer special bonuses. Drawing a stone card in the Flood Phase cause all the stone “fields” in play to loose one card. Stone cards never go to storage pile.

Finally The Plague of Locust: when draw (in Flood phase or in Draw phase) actuallt cause the crop/crops with most cards to be discarded.

What I think about Nile Deluxor ? It is absolutely not a deep strategic game, not for gamers looking a tactical and challenging game: the luck plays an important role and you have not so many choices in your turn. On the other side it plays nice and quickly and the cards are good, both in materials and illustrations. It is a perfect family game and a good filler to play with kids and occasional players. You have to look what other players are doing, have an idea of which crops cards are already gone, remember other players scored cards and decide which monuments best fit your strategy. Of course you have to pray for good Floods, but that is not a negative feature for kids and light games. Starting from Essen I have played Nile Deluxor more than 10 times that, for me, is an undeniable indicator that the game works.

In few days part 2 of this article with The Boss impressions.

About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
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