In 2020, Covid-19 pandemic happened and a lot of people had to stay at home. This also hurt the industry of tabletop games because people still consider playing board games as a social activity.
They can meet another gamers in person and play the game. Because of the lockdown restriction, no meet up, no conventions, no game night as they used to. Eventually, the world figured out a way to connect via the internet.
In tabletop game industry, people also started to find a way as how they can still play together online but still with the social interaction that the analog game can bring. Some chose to just play solo, others chose the digital version of tabletop game but another popular alternative is by playing a roll and write game.
Everybody can download their own sheet, take a couple of dice and play the game. If it is just a regular roll and write, people will end up just playing on their own without interaction. In order to keep the interaction, one player must have the component, managing it and the other players can pay attention to this one player.
That is what this next game, Riverside is offering. This is a roll and write game that is not just giving a sheet and dice but a communal board. Players from various location will make decision, writing on their sheet based on this one board.
So, what is this Riverside board game? How do we play the game? Can we play the game over the internet?
Those are probably just a few questions that came to mind after hearing about the game. Well, in this article, I’m going to share with you my Riverside Review based on my experience on playing the game and what I can find from the internet.
Hope this helps. Is Riverside going to be the best roll and write game out there?
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Table of Contents
Game’s Title: Riverside
Genre: Roll and Write, Competitive, Modular Board, Tourism Theme, One time Abilities.
Designer: Eilif Svensson, Åsmund Svensson
Artist: Gjermund Bohne
Publisher: Chilifox Games
Number of Players: 1 – 6
Playtime: 15 – 25 minutes
Official Website: ChilifoxGames.com
Release Year: 2021
10 Regular River Tiles
1 East River Tile
1 West River Tile
2 Extension River Tiles
1 Cruise Ship Token
1 Plastic Standee
1 Captain Tile
100 Double Sided Score Sheets
About Riverside Board Game
The theme of the game is about tourism by a river cruise company, set in a remote winter land. The rivers are usually frozen most of the time with a couple of villages on several spots of this River.
When the river becomes accessible the cruise company offers an exotic tours along this river. Eventually the cruise will come near one of these villages.
Players are tour guides trying to attract passengers of the cruise to join the Guide boats visiting these villages for local attractions. The attractions can be about polar bear safaris, reindeer trips, fishing, local brew houses or visiting a Church.
Unless the boat is full, they cannot dispatch the boat to the village. Players can keep selling the tickets to get more passengers but the cruise will keep moving on.
Boats cannot go too far from the cruise itself. The cruise will eventually turn around and the excursion to that specific attraction may still happen later.
They can also choose to run the excursion on different village for the same attraction. However, the passengers prefer specific villages because they think it is more attractive or valuable.
Players can choose to dispatch smaller boat with less number of passengers or go for the bigger one immediately. If it takes too long to fill the boat, they may miss the excursion.
If these passengers are satisfied with the marketing by the player, they might be interested to join the next excursion of the same attraction or even for a different attractions. With the right plan, the boat from one excursion can help fill the boat for another.
The challenge is that for the same attraction, the cruise is only offering 3 excursions. Each subsequent excursion of the same attraction must generate higher income. This depends on the number of dispatched boats and the value of the villages, hosting that attraction.
So, players cannot just run the excursion anytime they have the chance but they need to have long term strategy. They need to know when the chance will come and whether it is a good time for excursion or not.
Another challenge is the temperature that players have to manage. If the temperature is too low, the passengers think it will be too cold for outdoor activity. The temperature will change from time to time.
Players can light up some fire in the heating area so to warm up the passengers. However, this is limited for the entire trip. So, players have to spend them wisely.
The last thing to manage which can also attract more passengers is the Northern Lights. They will attract people to come out to the deck. So, it will consume a lot of heat but at the same time, it opens the chance for passengers to look at the villages. Maybe they become interested in joining the excursion so spending the heat is worth it.
The main mechanism of Riverside is roll and write. In this game, we will roll 6 dice every round and each player will write on their own sheet based on the roll result.
There are 6 dice in this game, each with its own color. The color represents the 5 different attractions on various villages and one of them is for the Northern Lights.
The value for every roll represents the number of passengers who are interested for the corresponding attraction. Players will then choose which dice that they want to use in a current round.
This use the same idea as Bingo game where all players will have the access to all of the dice. The game can be considered as a multiplayer solitaire game where players will just do their own thing and just compare scores at the end.
What makes this game unique among other Roll and Write genre is the use of Modular Board. Usually in other roll and write games, each player will just have their own sheet and make decision based on the dice.
In this one, these Modular tiles will create the main board of Riverside. On this long board, we will see the movement of the cruise and where the villages with their attractions are.
The cruise will always move in one way from the entrance to the exit point. Since they use modular tiles, the position of the tiles in between those 2 points can be different from game to game.
An attraction in one game can be near the entrance while in other session it can be in the middle or near the exit point. With this idea, players can see all of the locations and make an overall strategy around them for each different attraction.
Players can choose to skip the village for now and lose the chance to score the excursion. However, maybe they can revisit the same or different village for better excursion value.
The cruise itself will move a couple of space ahead based on the dice roll. From those 5 dice, we will determine the median value and that will define how far the cruise will move for this round.
So, there is a bit of random or uncertainty. In one game, the median can be high in which the game will end sooner. Or, it can be low and the cruise will take longer time to reach the end, creating more opportunity.
Each player will use one identical sheet. The sheet will have tracking for fire that we can spend for the heating at the top. Then, at the bottom, as the main part is the passengers tracking for up to 4 boats for each of 5 different attractions.
Here we will also track the bonuses, and tally the excursion value or points that we get to determine the winner. Whoever scores the most point is the winner.
Riverside was released in 2021 during Covid-19 pandemic. During that time a lot of designers and publishers were trying to offer a game that can be played remotely over Skype or Zoom because some people cannot do meet up or have a game night in person.
As long as there is one player who has the component and other players have access to the sheet, they can play along. We can also do that with Riverside. In fact, some YouTube channels have posted their online play previously and we can play along in different time.
This way anybody can try the game first before even buying a copy.
Below is one of play along video by slickerdrips channel for Riverside. Here is the link of the game sheet that anybody can print. Somebody even created a pdf file for the board layout from this video that we can find the file here.
That means, if we have 6 dice with 6 different colors, we can even roll them ourselves and get a different input. We just cannot get different setup of the board just from this playthrough. For that, we need to look at different channels.
The game of Riverside comes in a vertical box with a striking blue color and beautiful art by Gjermound Bohne. We can see a cruise on a river in a snowy area as the focal point.
Even though it’s cold outside but we can see a lot of people are staying outside in the deck area of the cruise because they want to look at the nearby village for the attraction. Maybe they want to join the excursion. We can see the pier to that village with a reindeer at the bottom right corner.
The size of the box is about 16 x 22.8 x 5.2 cm. This footprint size is mostly for the sheet size.
On the back we can see the photo of the actual component being set up during the game, with the dice, sheet and the board itself. Of course, like other games, we can find info about the publisher or the game like the playtime or number of players.
One unique thing is that they show the complexity or difficulty level, indicated by the number of chili out of 3. Riverside is considered as medium difficulty or 2 out of 3.
There is no insert. On the inner part of the box, they are covered in blue, which I think is supposed to represent the water of the River with dark blue color.
The bottom box has icons from the game with bigger size than what we can find from other components in this game. Usually I use the lid as the dice tray.
Inside the box, we can find a rulebook, 4 sheets of cardboard, a notepad for the play sheet, dice, some plastic zip lock bags and a set of pencils. They already sharpened the pencils and somehow the sharp part kind of ruined the bag in my copy.
Here is an unboxing video by the publisher for this game.
We can find the digital file of the English rulebook on BGG via this link. Up to this point I haven’t seen any translation file to different language. According to BGG, the game has been printed in German, French and Dutch version. The game itself can be considered as language independent.
The rulebook has 12 pages with a cover that says TOUR GUIDE’S MANUAL instead of the standard rulebook. Here is the table of content of this rulebook.
Cover (Page 1). This cover uses the same art as the box cover. There is a paragraph about the setting.
Components (Page 2). This one page summarizes all of the components that we get in the box, each with an illustration.
Setup (Page 3). This section will tell us how to setup the game with the basic variant, especially the main board where the player setup is just to take a sheet and a pencil. The page will have an example of what the game board will look like after the setup.
Overview and Goal (Page 4). This is a summary of what we will be doing in this game. The goal is to get the highest score and this section will tell the 3 ways of how we get those points.
There is also a section where they tell us the name of each icon, which is more like a flavor text to give some context with the setting.
The Score Sheet (Page 4). This section will tell us every part that we can find on the Score Sheet from Fire Symbols, Guide Boats, Stave Church and Captain Points.
Playing the Game (Page 5 – 9). This explains the 3 general phases that will happen each round in this game.
From phase 1 or Roll Dice and Move Ship, we can find how to find the median number of the dice and how we move the ship.
Phase 2 section is where we choose the dice to fill seats on the boat. Here we can also find how to use the Fire Symbols and Royal Seats. Important notes from here are we cannot use the green die if we don’t have enough Fire symbols and we have to spend all Fire Symbols even if we cannot use all value of the die to fill the seat.
Phase 3 section is the excursion. Here is where we can find the range of boat from the cruise and how to extend it as the first part. Then, on the second part is how to count score from each excursion. There is also a subsection about the Stave Church.
Game End (Page 10). This part explains how the end game can be triggered, how we count the scores to determine the winner and a tie breaker.
Here we can also find notes about Captain Score for the solo mode. An important note is that the game ends immediately during phase 1. So, that is after we move the cruise token.
Royal Powers (Page 11). This part explains all 5 Royal Powers that we can trigger after we activate them. One important notes is that we cannot use Fan Base and Warm Night during the same round as they were activated.
Fan Base and Prize Tickets also have additional notes. These are very easy to miss.
Extension Variant (Page 11). This past just explains the 2 additional River tiles that we can add to the basic setup.
Achievements (Page 12). In this section we can find a table of achievements based on the score. It says that the table works for any player count. One important note is that we need to substract 25 points if we use the Extension variant.
There is also a note about additional winning condition for solo play. If we get at least 300 pints, we win.
Credits (Page 12). Here we can find the designers, artist, proofreader and play testers. There is also caricature for the two designers in this game setting.
Up to this point, which is less than a year since the game was announced, there were not a lot of questions regarding the rule on the forum. Most of the questions are related to how to use some of the Royal Powers.
I did ask one question whether we can replace the score from excursion or not even if we have a better score. The answer so far is that we cannot replace them.
So, overall, the rulebook did a good job explaining most of them. Each section has enough illustration and examples to help explain the related rule.
The layout is also not very crowded with blocks of text. It has enough empty room which is easier to look at.
The next set of component in Riverside is the dice. These 6 d6 come in a plastic zip lock bag. They are standard d6 that we can buy separately from local store with rounded corner with 1.6 cm size.
All 6 of them have different colors. These 5 solid colors represents 5 different excursions: White for Polar Bear trip, Yellow for Mountain Climbing trip, Brown for Reindeer trip, Blue for Ice Fishing, and Pink for Local Brew House.
The green one is a bit special as the color is a bit opaque instead of solid or clear. Also the pips are printed a bit differently than the other dice. I think if somehow we lose any of them, we can replace them with regular dice as long as we can find a replacement with similar color.
It doesn’t have to be the exact color. I think we can also play the game with just 1 die as long as we are willing to roll one at a time and take notes for all 6 dice.
The green one represents the Northern Lights that may appear in the sky but not part of the excursion plan by the tour company.
In this game, we will be rolling all 6 dice every round. Then the value from the roll represent 2 things. The first one is the passengers who are interested in joining the corresponding excursion type.
Dice will show pips from 1 to 6. We have to choose one of the five base dice that we want to fill our boats with. Then we can add the number using the green dice.
Thematically, it means, as the tour guide, we inform the passengers that if they join in the specific excursion, they can also see a Northern Light. The value of pips from the green dice then become the passengers who are willing to join.
However, this additional passengers will have higher operational cost as we need to use fire to heat up.
The dice value also represent the temperature of the day which will determine the movement of the cruise. The setting is in cold, winter, snowy area.
To determine the temperature, from the 5 solid or base dice, we have to find the Median value and that median becomes the temperature of the day. What that means is dice with the same value or lower represents passengers who don’t mind going outside.
On the other hand, dice with value higher than the median or the temperature, the value represents group of tourists who thinks the temperature is too cold to do outdoor activity. Therefore, as the tour guide, if we want to keep them in the deck to watch the attraction to nearby village, we have to spend fire to heat up the deck.
If we choose those dice with higher value than the median, we also need to spend our Fire, a limited resource of the game. More about this later.
The median value also determines how far the cruise will move. I’m not sure the thematic reason why they have to move the cruise ship faster if more passengers are interested in joining the excursion.
Maybe it’s more in business perspective. If they already make a lot of sales with the tickets they will advance faster. Otherwise they just stick around longer to give more chance.
It’s just that the playtime or the number of rounds in a session of Riverside will be different based on these numbers. If we keep getting high median value, the game can end sooner and if it keeps getting low value, we will have more turns.
In the rulebook they say the typical number of rounds is about 8 to 11 rounds, using this system. I think that is also using the basic variant, without the 2 extension tiles.
Most of the time, the median we will get is either 3 or 4. But it is possible to still get 1 or 6 as long as there are 3 dice with the same of either value. If we get at least 3 6s from the base dice, that means all base dice can be used without any Fire, except for the green one.
Since this is a roll and write game, the game comes with 6 pencils to support 6 players. These are just regular pencils which they already sharpened for us and an eraser on the other end.
They don’t include the sharpener. I’m not sure but I think the graphite scale is either B or 2B.
The total length of each pencil is about 10 cm which is adequate for regular hand size like mine. It’s not like we are going to do a lot of writings. The writing part in this game is mostly crossing icons and write numbers for the score.
These pencils come not in a plastic zip lock bag but a thin disposable plastic. The problem is that when I opened my copy, the sharp part of the pencil kind of torn the plastic and the pencils were scattered inside the box.
I think it kind of scratch some of the sheet or board. it’s of course not a big deal as we can just erase them. But because of that, I put the pencils inside the zip lock bag that they provided.
Because they use pencils, the sheet we will be writing on is just paper that we will use just once or twice and throw them in to the trash. If we want we need to laminate several sheets then replace the pencils with dry erase markers.
The next component of Riverside is the Captain Tile from the cardboard sheet. This is the square tile with rounded corners with a face of a Captain in the middle. Both sides have the same illustration.
The size is about 5 cm on each side with 2mm thickness as all of the cardboards. As we can see from the tile, it has two parts, the top half and the bottom half.
The top one has the fire color with a thermometer icon, a green die and Fire icon while the bottom only has the thermometer icon. However, next to the thermometer, the top part has “higher than” icon before it, while the bottom one has “lower than” icon.
The thermometer indicates the temperature of the day that will be determine from the median value of the dice roll. After we roll those 5 dice, we are supposed to place the dice that have the same value as the temperature or lower at this bottom part of Captain Tile.
While the dice with the higher value than the median should be place at the top half. The green dice will always go to the top.
The Fire icon is a reminder that if we want to use any dice, including the green one at the top half, we have to spend Fire symbols. We don’t need to spend anything for the dice at the bottom.
So, the Captain tile is just reminder. We can always just separate the dice into 2 groups without even using this tile.
It looks nice so I keep using it. Every round I place it on the dice tray and roll the dice. Then I separate the dice into two groups accordingly.
I kind of wish that instead of square, they can use a long rectangular shape and they can put some other reminders like how to determine median. So, it can be another player aid. Maybe the Royal Power can use some reminders.
Cruise Ship Standee
The game also comes with a Cruise Ship Standee with a cardboard token and plastic stand. Both sides of the token has a nice Cruise ship art with irregular shape for the token.
The plastic stand is about 2 cm in diameter with clear color. The part that will hold the token is just 0.4 cm in height with some anchors inside it.
That means, if we place the token to this stand, it will scratch the bottom part. I think that diameter size is very common that we can replace it with generic stand from any local store. Just make sure to get one with clear no color or transparent.
In this game, we will be placing this standee on the Game Board. We will move the standee a number of space according to the dice from the starting point until the end point which triggers the end of the game.
My problem with this standee is actually the cardboard token part. When this standee lands on one of the Village, the standee will actually block the view to the Village itself.
The Village on the board is represented by the icon and value of the excursion which is printed flat on the board. If we want to read it and the standee is in the way, we probably have to stand up or pick the standee up just to look at. This also depends on where the player will sit and how the board is placed on the table.
It’s not a big deal but I kind of wish that the icon on the board also has use some standee. I don’t think using acrylic or plastic standee will be better.
The standee gives a nice 3D presence on the board but we can always lay the token flat on the board. Maybe that is the better solution.
The game board in Riverside is a long board made of cardboard modular River Tiles. There are 3 main parts, the West Tile, Middle Tiles and East Tiles. With the exception of 2 Extension Tiles, we will be using all of these 3 main parts in every game.
The West and East tiles are always at the same position while the 10 tiles in between can be in different positions. The middle tiles will create a 2 x 5 grid connected by one bigger tile on each end.
With that system, the middle part can always be randomized. On one game that one specific tile will be near the starting point while on other time, it can be somewhere in the middle or near the exit.
The tiles are so thick and we can just shuffle them like a card before laying them out in a grid. Using the Extension tiles will make the game longer but not much. Technically, we can also make the game shorter by removing one or two columns from the basic setup but there is no official variant for that.
Each of the Middle tiles has rectangular shape with rounded outer corners. The size is about 9.5 x 6.4 cm. Two tiles on the end of the grid have more of a curved trapezoid shape with 13 x 6.4 cm as the size.
The back of all middle tiles only shows the game’s title while the two on the end have identical art as the front side. On the front side, each tile has a connecting river line that connects all tiles.
Then, on the outer end we can see the Riverside, where we can find villages and their attraction for excursions, surrounded by snowy terrains. We can see some trees, houses, hills, roads and small rivers.
The problem is that the villages parts are mostly covered by the excursion icons, which is of course more important for the game.
All of the tiles are unique, even though they look similar. The position of the village on the tile, the number of spaces for cruise, excursion type and value are different from one to another.
The river part has circular spots or spaces where we can place the standee, connected by a white dotted line. Each Middle tile will have 1 up to 3 spaces. That is the number of space that the cruise will be moving through determined by the dice roll each round.
The exact location of the village is indicated by a pier icon in the circular space.
If the tile only has fewer than 3 spaces, than there is a good chance the cruise will skip it. This should be taken into consideration by the player in previous round. Of course, if the median is very high like 6, the cruise will pass 2 tiles at least in a single round.
Most of them also has an intersection and a cruise space that connects the tile on the top row of the grid with the bottom row. The cruise will always move following the white dotted line but the excursion boat can always travel via this intersection.
This allows us to revisit some villages from the top row later in the game or to visit the bottom villages early in the game.
With one connecting space each, it will take at least 3 spaces for the boat to move between rows. That means, even if we have a chance to visit the different row, we probably need to extend the range to get there.
From the base middle River Tiles, each village can have up to 2 different excursions. If we send a boat to a village with multiple excursions, we can score both in a single turn, assuming we follow the rules with higher value than previous excursions of the same type.
Each excursion will have a base value written on the village. If we want to score from this, we multiply that value with the number of group of tickets that we have collected for that specific excursion. So, if we have no ticket for that excursion, we won’t score anything.
Each type of excursion will have 3 villages to score. All 3 villages will have different value. The 5 different types of excursion also have a different set of values in their 3 villages. One type is more valuable than the others but require higher number of tickets.
Here is the detail of village values for each excursion type.
Polar Bear Trip: 7 / 9 / 12
Mountain Climbing: 6 / 8 / 11
Reindeer trip: 5 / 8 / 10
Ice Fishing: 4 / 7 / 9
Local Brew House: 4 / 6 / 8
Based on those numbers, the Polar Bear trip is the most valuable. However, there is a chance that the white dice just don’t give a good value. Either too low that we won’t fill many space on the boat or too high that we cannot afford the Fire cost.
That means it is situational and we probably have to diversify a bit. We also can only score 3 excursions for each type. So, we cannot just visit the same village to keep scoring from the same type.
The lower value village for each type is also not necessarily make them bad. In this game for the same excursion type we need to get higher score for each the subsequent excursion.
For example, with the Polar Bear trip, maybe for the first excursion we can visit the village with the value of 9 but only with 1 ticket. For the second excursion, if we can visit the village with the value of 7, we need to have at least 2 tickets so the total score of the second which is 14 will be higher than the first excursion which is just 9.
The challenge is, because the board is set up randomly with modules, maybe right from the start we will arrive at the village with the highest value first. It is not always going to be in ascending or descending order.
The interesting part is that we can visit the same village multiple times and for that specific excursion, we can still have higher score than the previous excursion. To do that, we just need to have one more ticket before revisiting that same village.
That is just talking about a village with single excursion. If the village has 2 excursion, we can score from both in the same round.
However, each will calculate the score individually. If we have the same number of tickets for both type, the potential total value can be even higher than those with just a single excursion. So, that is another consideration.
With this idea, the game encourage us to study the entire route. Since we can see the entire board right from the start, we can have an overall strategy for each excursion type.
Maybe we know when to score the first excursion for one type and when to score the second or third. But then again, with the random movement of the cruise, there is a chance that we will skip some villages and we have to make another plan.
Or, maybe we do have access to that village but at the same time we have access to a different village where we can score for a different type of excursion. So, there will be a tough decision to make and we have to find some balance. Or just ignore one of them.
It is possible that we will just get 3 excursions for one type while for the others, we only do one or 2 excursions.
Villages with multiple excursions can have about the same value for both type or significantly different. Like one type has a value of 9 where the second type only has the value of 4.
With either combination, there is a chance that we can only score one of them because of the increasing value restriction. Maybe we cannot score from the excursion with higher value and only score with the lower one.
Towards the end of the game, usually we will examine every possible score that we can get from the nearby villages. We can see the position of the cruise near the exit point.
If it is within 6 spaces ahead, there is a chance that there will be no additional round. The game ends immediately when the cruise reaches the exit point. With that possibility, players probably have to spend everything that they have in the current round to score as high as possible.
West and East Tiles
The West River Tile has both the starting and end point of the cruise movement. It will start the tour from the top left corner or the top west corner which then leads to the first row of the 2 x 5 grid made by the Middle Tiles.
Then, at the end of the first row, the cruise will enter the East River Tile. This tile is just a U-turn and leads to the second row of the grid. The cruise will then pass through this second row. Eventually it will return to the West tile again but this time to the exit point or bottom left corner.
Another thing that is different from the Middle Tiles is the existence of village with a STAVE CHURCH excursion. Both of these end tiles will have one. The East has a value of 2 while the west tile will only have a value of 1.
The scoring from this type is a bit different. For this one, we don’t need to fill seats and sell a group of tickets like the other excursion types. Instead, we will use all of the tickets that we have collected from all of other excursions.
We multiply the number of tickets with the value of the village with Stave Church. For this type we only have 2 excursion chances with also the increasing value requirement.
Unlike the other type, we will always have the same setup for Stave Church. We will first visit the one on the East with a value of 2 before arriving at the west tile with the value of 1.
Let’s say we already have 5 tickets when we arrive at the first Stave Church. We can score 10 points from that excursion. If then we want to score the second excursion from the second Stave Church, we need to have more than 10 tickets by the time we arrive there.
Like any other village, there is still a chance that the cruise will skip them because of the dice roll. The challenge is that this Stave Church is actually more important than the other excursion.
The reason is that the score from Stave Church excursion will not only contribute to the total score but it will become part of the Captain Points. In a multiplayer game of Riverside, whoever has the most Captain Point will get additional 15 points while the player with the least will lose 15 points.
That is a bit different than the solo variant. In solo variant, we just need to have a total of 50 Captain Points to get extra 15 points or lose 15 points.
From my experience, Captain Points plus the bonus can go up to 100 points, which is probably 1/4 of the total score. 30 point difference can be huge, especially with just 2 players.
So, it encourages players to chase this points from Stave Church. The thing is that we can easily miss this Church, especially the first one.
On one hand, I think this will create a game arc because players will have no choice but to be prepared. It creates tension when the cruise gets closer to any of the Stave church.
Should we do excursion now? Or do we think that in the next round the cruise is still within 3 spaces away from the church? For the second one, do we still have another turn or the cruise will arrive at the exit point?
Also, remember that, we can visit the village twice. Provided that we have one extra tickets more for the second visit. It doesn’t have to visit once per church.
We can go both on the second or even first church. Just make sure that within one round, we can collect an extra ticket.
Other than those features, the art on these 2 tiles are similar to the Middle River tiles.
The game comes with 2 additional River tiles that we can add as part of the Middle Tiles. These Extension tiles will have the same shape and size as those tiles.
If we add them, we are supposed to shuffle them up along with other Middle tiles and set them up like usual. In this case, instead of 2 x 5, we will get a grid of 2 x 6.
These Extension Tiles will have a PLUS icon at the top right corner of each tile. So, it is very easy to separate them. They work almost the same as other Middle tiles.
Each tile of this will only have one travel space for the cruise. That means when we add them to the setup, it will only add 2 spaces.
If the median values are mostly either 3 or 4, this will at most just give 1 extra round compared to the basic setup. The rule also says that adding this tiles will give extra 25 points to the player.
One of these Extension tiles will have a village with Polar Bear and Mountain Climbing excursions. The Polar Bear has a value of 10 and a value of 9 for the Mountain Climbing. Both of them are the second highest village for each respected type.
Also, this specific tile is the only one that doesn’t have an intersection to a different row. So, if we miss this village, we probably won’t be able to visit again later unless we can extend the boat range to the maximum.
The other Extension tile has 3 excursion with Reindeer, Ice Fishing and Local Brew house excursion. The value is 7, 6 and 5 in that respective order. These 3 are actually the second lowest value village from each category.
This second tile is the only village with 3 excursions. Even if we only have one ticket for each, it will still give 18 points.
The first one can be a bit problematic as it seems to encourage players to just focus on these 2 types. Of course, the position to overall grid matters and we can get a lot of score if the dice rolls allow us to keep choosing these 2.
If it is in the first row, the chances are we will only score one of them or even skip it. It becomes very powerful if this one is near the exit. Since there will be no intersection, in that case, all players have to utilize that strategy.
Actually, it’s like the second Extension tile complement the first one. Players can just focus on the two on the first tile and then just score low for the 3 on the second. Again, it depends.
What I’m saying is that these 2 tiles can change the game a bit but not always. I’m also not sure if it is better. Technically these 2 tiles will only add 1 or 2 rounds but overall, it is probably enough to reduce the tension if combined with a lot of low median value.
My score is definitely higher by adding these 2. I can also complete almost every boat. With just the base tiles, we have a total of 33 spaces and these two will just add 2 spaces.
This is the last component of Riverside and probably the most important one for a roll and write game which is the score sheet. The sheet is where we will do the writing, make decision and count the score.
From this notepad, we get about 100 identical sheets on both sides of each sheet. So, it was intended for multiple play in a row. We can take one sheet, play once and turn it for the next game. After that we are supposed to discard the sheets.
The publisher even released the sheet publicly so anybody can print them out again if they need it. We can find the link for the sheet on BGG here.
The size of the sheet is slightly smaller than the box’s inner side. I don’t know how laminating a sheet works but I guess they have extra room for the lamination.
We don’t have to use just pencils on these papers. Pen is okay but markers are probably not because the ink will just ruin the other side as well.
Some people have said that they do not like the design of this sheet. I admit that it looks like an excel file spreadsheet but that applies for most of roll and writes but I personally don’t mind.
Maybe it’s too colorful compared to the other components which is mostly just white and blue. This sheet uses the 5 different colors for each type of excursion as a single row. The bottom part even use the rainbow as a reminder that the scoring for Stave Church is based on the other 5 colors.
I can see why people may not like looking at that. It is very contrast to the striking bold blue color and artistic style of the box cover.
There are a couple of sections that we can find on the sheet. We need to understand how each of them works to play the game.
The first section that we can find at the top right corner of the sheet is the FIRE SYMBOLS. Here we can find an icon of a green die with a plus sign. Right next to it are 14 empty circles with a fire art around each circle.
These are the resources tracker and Fire is the resource that we can spend in the game. Everytime we spend one of them, we cross the Fire circle to indicates that we have spent them.
Technically, the game doesn’t have a mechanism to add more Fire during the game. So, those 14 are always the amount that each player has from the start.
There will be no bonus at the end for unspent Fire so, spending them while trying to be effective and efficient is probably the only way to do. Keeping them won’t get us anything.
Thematically, the Fire is a resource to heat the deck of the cruise. As mentioned before, each round, we roll 5 dice and the median value will determine the temperature of the round.
If we choose just the dice with a value that is equal or lower than the temperature, the temperature will stay stable. Having more passengers to stay on the deck will decrease the temperature and eventually people will start to feel too cold
To keep the temperature, we then have to spend a number of the Fire, equally to the number of extra passengers.
The green die icon at the top left corner next to these Fire symbols means if we also choose the green dice this round, we also need to spend more Fire. Thematically that if we can attract more passengers by saying that if they join the excursion, they will have a chance to look at the Northern Lights.
More passengers will come but at the same time, there will be extra cost.
So, it s possible that we can choose a dice from the 5 with the same or lower than the median without having to spend the Fire. But we still need to spend Fire if we also choose the green dice.
Another possible option is if we choose the dice that is already higher than median in which we have to spend Fire for that one. We also still need to spend the Fire for the green.
Most of the time, it is not recommended but there will be situation where that decision can really help like on the last round. Maybe that is the only way to turn these Fires into points.
One restriction to consider is that if we don’t have enough Fire to pay the cost of the dice, we cannot spend them at all. Thematically, it is appropriate like we cannot accept some interested passengers and deny the rest.
This actually will dictate the strategy of the game, at least with how we spend this. If then we have less than 6 Fire symbols left, we may have more difficult time to spend the rest. Like if we have like 3 left, and the green dice just keep showing 4, we have no choice but to wait for the subsequent rounds.
If not for the green dice, that means we have to spend Fire for dice with higher value than the median. With average median being 3 or 4, then maybe it is best to have 5 or 6 spares. Out of 14 Fire symbols, that means we can spend like 8 of them immediately.
In practice, that is not always the case. It’s not rare that I will stuck with just 1, 2 or 3 Fire symbols that I couldn’t spend. It’s not like we have the freedom to just spend partially. The dice roll will dictate how much Fire we need, which can be any combination.
Most of the time is for small value from the green die to add to the base die. But there will be a situation where I get a value of 6 from the green and I need them to get multiple tickets.
Some may consider the Fire as a mitigation to the bad roll but it feels more like a bonus or boost to the result. Since we cannot freely spend them, it’s hard to consider it as mitigation. There will be times when I need to change the roll but just cannot spend it.
If anything, the Fire seems to be a necessity to be spent. So, it’s more like a challenge as to figure out as when exactly the best time to spend them.
The next part of the sheet is what I call the Boat Range which we can find at the middle top of the sheet. We can see there a number 3 in a circle with 4 arrows pointing out and 3 “+1” symbols.
In this game, thematically, the cruise will just move along the river and stay in the River. They will then dispatch boats to bring the passengers for excursion to various different villages.
The number 3 indicates that the boat cannot go too far from the cruise. As the base range, we can only go to villages within 3 spaces from the cruise. The “+1” icon is another resources that we can spend to increase the range.
Each player will have a total of 3 additional spaces that they can spend separately or on the same turn. That means, the range can always go up to 6 with just the base range value plus bonus. There is one more way to increase it from the one time bonus section. More about this later.
If we choose to use the extra range, we have to cross the “+1” symbol. After all 3, we will get no more. There is no way in the game to have more of this +1 extra.
So, this is another resource that we can spend and this feels like a mitigation because of we can spend them as we please. There will be some games where we just don’t need to use them at all or maybe just 1.
Since they are still limited, we probably will hold on from spending any of them until at least half point in the game. Maybe only during the last round we will spend them all.
With the limit of just +3 in total, we also need to consider the layout of the game board. Maybe the exit point is too far from the second or third closest village that we can get excursion score from.
In that case, perhaps we should spend them a couple turns before. Another case is if from one type of the excursion, the corresponding villages are all located far away from the exit point. In addition to that, only after we have passed all of those villages, we have enough tickets to score.
If we don’t score right now with the help of extended range bonus, we won’t get any points at all for that excursion type.
I think it is possible to spend them early. Like if the village with highest value of one excursion is located near the start, we might want to score from that early by having just 1 ticket. Then when we have reached near that village again, we can score with more tickets.
Personally, I have never played that way. I feel like what will happen in between is still unpredictable. We may start with that plan and depending on the dice roll, we may have to abandon that plan and switch to a different one.
The next section of the sheet is probably the biggest section and where the main game will take place. These are the 5 different rows for each type of excursions with their own color.
Each row has 6 parts: ROYAL POWERS, SEATS COLUMN, BONUS SEATS, TICKET VALUES, EXCURSION SCORE and TOTAL SCORE, each in its own column. They will be discussed separately in the next sections.
The way we use or write on them are the same. Each round we roll the base dice and choose one. Then we will fill in the corresponding row that has the matching color as the die we chose.
Since we can always change different dice in different rounds, we will be filling from one row to another. It depends on the dice. Sometimes, the dice of certain color just don’t give a good value at all and we are ignoring that row for a while.
The bonus from one row can still lead to a different one and eventually we will have the good chance to fill that row we have ignored so far. Since scoring will count all rows, we eventually have to work on all of them.
The first column of the Guide Boats section from the sheet, other than the dice icon is the ROYAL POWERS section. As we can see that each row will have a unique icon on each with a small box that has 2 emojis.
These 5 icons represent the Royal Powers. They are one time abilities that we can activate by meeting the requirement during the game and choose to execute them subsequently.
To activate them, we need to fill the 2 Seats that has a purple color from the corresponding row. More about how we fill the seats in the SEAT COLUMN below.
These Purple seats are the ROYAL SEATS. Once we have filled both of them, we can cross the box above that ROYAL POWER ICON to indicate that we have activated the ability.
Then later, after we have executed the power, we can cross that Royal Power icon to indicates it is no longer available for future use. There will be no way to reactivate the ability again afterwards.
All of these abilities can be powerful but we need to know when exactly the best time to trigger it. They will worth no points if we do not spend them, so, using them is a better option. It’s just when?
We first need to activate them and it depends on the dice roll again. Sometimes, we won’t be able to activate some of them or if we activate them but don’t have the chance to execute them.
So, the general idea should be trying to activate them during the first half and execute in the second half of the game. We can also activate multiple of these abilities in the same round.
Some of the combinations can be very powerful.
The Powers are: EARLY BIRDS (white), FAN BASE (yellow), PRIZE TICKET (brown), WARM NIGHT (blue) and SPEED BOAT (pink).
Each power also requires different number of seats to fill before we can activate them. Early Birds and Fan Base will take 7 seats, while Prize Ticket and Warm Night will take 6. Speed Boat will only take 5.
Early Birds, with the pier icon and a plus sign allows us to do one more excursion in a round to a different village. This can be very powerful as how we get points mostly are from excursions.
If then the village have 2 excursions, we can even score both for the two. That can huge, especially towards the end of the game where we have more tickets.
However, it still depends on the excursion value of the village. We may have more tickets but if the village value is low and the total score is still lower than our previous excursion point, we won’t get any score.
So, the game really encourages us to make an overall plan. We know the potential score with the number of tickets multiplied by the value from the village and we know which village will be closer to the exit which is probably when we execute this power.
We will be evaluating this for all 5 types of excursions. There is a chance that we may have to execute them early. Maybe the one near the exit is not within range of the boat.
So, which of them will give the best total score from the 2 excursions? This probably has the most complex of decision space. We can also combine that with the PRIZE TICKET POWER that will give a lot of permutation to consider.
Then we also need to consider the Stave Church excursion and Captain Bonus.
All of that matters assuming we can activate this ability in the first place. While this power may contribute the highest score possible but I’m not sure always chasing it will be a better idea. It still depends on the dice roll.
Fan Base from the yellow excursion, has a dice icon with +3 sign. This allows us to add a value of 3 to the chosen base die. So if we choose a die with a value of 6, we can fill 9 seats, before the bonus.
The rulebook says that we do not need to spend Fire for the added value but we still need to spend fire if the base die has a value above median. Another note is that this ability cannot be executed in the same round as they were activated.
Clearly, we want to activate this as early as we can so we have enough chance to execute the power. The problem is that there is a chance that the chosen color no longer need additional 3 or only need less than 3.
I asked the forum whether we can use it to substract the required Fire from the die with higher value than the median. One user said that we cannot do that. In that case, this power is useless if we cannot afford the Fire.
So, this one is very tricky to really use. It depends on the color and die roll. Very situational.
Maybe ideally, we are supposed to leave some seats. But then there is a chance that even the value from the base die will be enough to fill them. Or it will be inefficient. There is also a risk that we will fail to fill all seats if we leave them empty just for this ability.
It is still a handy power when we get the right chance. But most of my played I forgot that I had this.
Prize Ticket from the brown excursion and the Ticket icon allows us to add 1 ticket to one color, including the Stave Church when we score from excursion this round.
This can be very useful. Usually, towards the end of the game, we are within range to a village with certain excursion. But even with full 4 tickets, we cannot score from it because the total value is lower or the same as previously. This additional ticket will help us increase the value.
Once we have activated this, we probably should reevaluate our plan for each excursion, especially for the type that has a village near the exit point. Can this additional ticket help us get higher excursion score? If not, then we probably should consider the other type which the closest village is out of boat range from the exit.
We have to think backwards for that. It’s like this power creates a game arc on its own. This will be even more interesting when combined with the EARLY BIRDS power or double excursion power.
Warm Night from the blue excursion has an icon with a green die and a crossed out fire symbol. This allows us to use the green die without having to spend the Fire Symbol.
If then the base die has a value above the median, we still need to have enough fire for that die or we cannot even execute this Warm Night power. Also, the rule says that we cannot execute this power in the same round as they were activated.
To get the most of this power, we should wait for the green die to show a 5 or 6. So that we will get more free seats from this power which is huge. If we have been ignoring certain color, than with just the free green value, we can complete one or 2 group of tickets, thanks to this power.
But then, if with just the low green value is enough to complete all group of tickets, then there is no reason not to use it. It’s just, again, depends on the die roll. Which is why we want to activate this as early as we can so we have more chance to roll a good value from green die.
Speed Boat from the pink has a number 6 with 4 arrows pointing out from as an icon. This allows us to extend the boat range in a round so the base range is not 3 but 6. That will give us access to more villages.
The rulebook only say that this power works in a round. So, if we also combine this with the Early Bird power, the extended boat range works for both excursions.
The rulebook also say that we can still modify this extended range by spending the +1 symbols.
It’s just when exactly should we use this power. We have to examine the entire board and look for the villages with the highest value. The range is still limited to 9, assuming we have not spent the +1 symbols.
9 means we won’t get pass through an entire row from one end to another. If then the target village is at the top row but on the other end from the exit, we probably still won’t be able to reach later.
One way to utilize this is to get a second excursion from the Stave Church on the east tile. After the cruise has passed through that church, we can collect more tickets and visit it later.
But that is not the highest point we can get since the highest possible one would be 34 points which is impossible as we need to have all tickets. Other excursion with a village that has a value of 8 or higher can easily give more score.
That is all about the ROYAL POWER and the first part of the Guide Boat.
The second part of the Guide Boat area on the sheet is the column for Seats. This is where we will be filling seats based on the dice value of the chosen corresponding die color.
Each type of excursion will have 4 groups of tickets and each group can accommodate between 3 up to 6 passengers. The ticket themselves have higher value with more passengers if we can fill the entire row.
The excursion type at the top will have rooms for more passengers and can give higher score, especially from the value of the ticket.
So, every round, we choose a base die and we fill a number of seats that matches with the value of the die on the excursion row with the matching color. We can fill any row from each type but we need to fill from left most space to the right.
To fill, we cross the white or purple emoji circle, one emoji per die value of 1. Once we have filled the entire row, we can cross the ticket icon on the right side of that seat row. Only after we have crossed the tickets we can score from the excursion of the corresponding type.
Here are the total value of tickets for each excursion and the total seats.
Polar Bear: 22 points / 19 seats.
Mountain Climbing: 20 points / 18 seats.
Reindeer Trip: 22 points / 17 seats.
Ice Fishing: 20 points / 16 seats.
Local Brew House: 18 points / 15 seats.
Previously I have mentioned the ROYAL SEATS which is the purple emoji of each type. Each excursion will have 2 Royal Seats on the third and fourth row, which are either the second up to fourth place from the left.
Once we have crossed both Royal Seats, we activate the corresponding Royal Power. We don’t need to fill the entire row to activate the power.
With the way of group of tickets and different number of seats, there will be tough decision as which row to fill first. Group of tickets will lower number of seats can be filled faster. But they do not give access to Royal Power and the value of the ticket is also low.
However, if we don’t complete a row, and get tickets we cannot go for excursion and even score from it. On the other hand, we also need to consider the position of the villages and the cruise.
If we wait to fill the seat first, the cruise might have passed that village and we cannot go excursion to it. At that point we probably should consider the next village of the same type that we can visit later. That way, maybe we can let that one go.
The challenge is that we have limited number of turns and therefore the excursion. Ideally, we want every round to have an excursion. Early in the game, we might want to get at least the first ticket right away by filling the first row. That way if we need to do excursion, we already have at least one ticket.
It also means that the first village near the starting point and the die roll can determine the overall strategy. Of course, the subsequent die roll can change that but it is still limited to the excursion type on the first few villages.
The next column is actually between the seats column and the ticket column. Each group of ticket will have one or 2 colored crossed circles. This represents the BONUS SEATS that we can get for filling the entire row, in addition to gain the ticket.
From all excursion type, only the Polar Bear with one row that gives bonus seats to its own type. The other excursions will give bonus to up to 4 different types.
Thematically, I think this represents satisfied passengers for the excursion and they become interested in joining a different or just the next excursion. Or just marketing from the tour guide offering promo.
This is how we can get a combo of actions that we can find from a lot of different roll and write games. One thing that we choose for now will lead to progress on other things which can be a satisfying experience.
It is possible that one completion of a row will give bonus that can complete another row in the same round. This second will also give us bonus seats.
I guess we can achieve that by leaving like 2 or 3 seats left from each excursion type. Assuming we know the potential combo is still available.
We probably can combine that idea with stopping from the Royal Seats. That will leave 2 seats to complete the row.
This usually happens in the second half of the game. When we can no longer score from excursion because we are far away from the village, then we will start planning on how to just get more tickets.
While we can get higher score from getting maximum point with excursion but there is no guarantee that the excursion will happen. On the other hand, by just completing the seats we still get points from the tickets even without the excursion.
This also still depends on the die roll that we can choose. When multiple dice have the same equal value, then we will begin evaluating every options. Which color and which row to fill to give the most Bonus Seats?
The white one will give bonus to 3 excursions excluding the pink. While the Pink itself will not give anything to the white. I guess, this is why pink is less likely to be completed while the white one is more favorable.
All the 3 Yellow, Brown and Blue can always lead to White. The blue is kind of tricky. On one hand we can get bonus from the yellow but then we want to complete the blue first. Yellow also has more seats to fill.
Brown and Pink seem to complement each other. It is very common that if we can complete one of them, we will complete the tickets of the other, even though it’s not always the case.
It’s the nature of it. We will focus on one color then the bonus will lead us to fill the other. If then the dice with the matching color supports that path with a good value, then we will just continue working on it.
However, if the die just doesn’t give us a good one, this is where we have to make another tough decision. Do we use that bonus just to get the Royal Power or do we use it to complete even a single group of tickets?
Sadly, because of the Captain Point restriction, we will end up chasing the latter. The Captain Point will take points from excursion type with the lowest total score. This will force player to diversify instead of just focusing on some excursion types.
It doesn’t mean we have to chase the excursion of that type but we will want at least get points from just having the tickets. Because of that, the strategy and replay value of how we will fill in the seats will be a bit low.
Excursion Scoring Area
The next part of the Guide Boat area of the sheet is the Excursion Scoring Area. Each excursion row has 3 spaces from left to right where we can write the excursion scores. The first excursion will go on the left most and moving to the right.
Between two spaces there is an icon “<” which indicates that the subsequent excursion of the same type must have higher value than the previous excursion. It cannot be equal because players can just repeat the excursion over and over again.
This way, as players get more tickets for that type of excursion, they also need to spread when they take the excursion. It is still possible that we can send boat for 2 excursions from the same village one after the other.
But that is if we can make sure that between the two excursions we will get one more ticket at least. For example, with the white or Polar Bear village that has an excursion value of 12.
For the first one, we only have 1 ticket and we can get 12 points. Then during phase 2 right after that, we can complete another row of tickets and we do another excursion to the same village. For this second one, we will get 24 points for 2 tickets.
That is one of the strategy which can be powerful if we have between 3 to 4 tickets. The problem is with that strategy is that there is no guarantee that the die roll will give the right value for us to complete another ticket.
In this game, we also have to score with all tickets that we already have. There is no option to score with fewer. We cannot do like we get all 4 but score 3 first and 4 in the next round.
So, while the strategy is possible and powerful but hard to execute. Especially if we want to do it for all excursions. Maybe just one or 2 is possible.
Usually this plan will come out after about half point to the game. When we have better idea of our progress, then we will look at the nearby villages that we will get to and how likely we can score from them.
The formula is always the same, which is number of tickets, multiply by excursion value of the village. So, it is possible to predict whether we can get higher score or not.
Usually, towards the end of the game, we will have multiple choices as where to send the boat with various different scores. We will have even more if we haven’t used the Early Birds Power and the villages have 2 type excursions that we can score both from.
While the village with 1 type may give the highest excursion value for that type. However from the village with 2 types, if we can score both, maybe the combined total score is still higher.
The way that the scoring works is we will sum up all 3 excursion values from each type. It’s not just the score from the last excursion. The value of village with a single excursion can go up to 12. While the village with two can have value up to 15. Of course, we have to work on getting tickets from both types then.
On the other hand, we also need to consider the Captain Points. The Captain Points will take score from the excursion type with the lowest total score. If then the Captain score is less than 50 for solo play or we have the lowest in multiplayer, we will lose another 15 points.
In that case, maybe we should go for suboptimal option. Instead of going excursion with the highest value, we have to choose the one that will increase the lowest value excursion type.
Total Guide Boat Score
The last column of this Guide Boat area is where we count all score for each excursion type. As we can see on the right most column, we have 2 spaces to write. One for the Total Score of Ticket Values and the other for total Score of Excursion Value.
Then we sum both and write the result on the hexagonal area at the end. We will fill this part only at the end of the game, during scoring.
After we have calculated all 5 types, we sum the total score right below this Guide Boat area. Some people have said that they do not like this part because it feels like doing an accounting. I get that it is not an exciting thing to do.
The total score up to this part can go about 300 points without the extension. With extension tiles, it can even go up to 350 points. Some people may have issue with this huge scoring systems. Mostly because players will not know the exact score of their opponents and very unlikely to have tied score.
Even during the game, we will have no idea. The score from the tickets are the same. For the excursion, even if the increments may be predictable we don’t know which one that other player will score.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just that players will just ignore and the game will become even more solitaire.
But this is not the end of the Scoring. There is another scoring part which will be discussed next.
Captain Score and Stave Church
This is the last row that we can see from the Score Sheet. The way it works is, we will have Captain Points and we will compare that points to our opponents. Player with the highest Captain Point will get additional 15 points while the one with the lowest Captain Point will lose 15.
With the chance of losing 15 points, this is probably the only interaction that players will get in the game of Riverside. For solo variant, we just need to have 50 Captain Points to avoid losing 15 points and get 15.
I guess it’s like the rule suggest achieving 50 points for Captain Points in multiplayer game.
As the final score, we add our Captain Points, plus the Bonus / Penalty to the total score from the Guide Boats. That final score is how we determine the winner.
The Captain Score itself is made of 2 things. One is from total value of Stave Church excursions and the other is from the Excursion type with the lowest score.
The Stave Church excursions will be similar to other type of excursions. The difference is that instead of collecting tickets by filling seats on individual excursion type, the Stave Church will use all total tickets of all excursion types.
That means we can get up to 20 tickets before the Prize Tickets and multiply it with the value of Stave Church from the tile. Also, there can be only 2 excursions instead of 3 for Stave Church, and like the other type, the second must have higher value.
Usually I can get between 20 – 35 points with 2 Stave Church excursions. While the lowest from other excursion type can go as high as 40 but it can also be 0. Mostly it will be another 20 points.
So, achieving that 50 Captain Points is not that difficult. However, I feel like that is only with the same strategy. Which is going twice with the Stave Church on the East Tile.
If we go with East first and then score with the West, it is very difficult to get higher score for the second excursion. Like if we have 10 tickets during the first on the East, we can get 20 points. Then, it is almost impossible to score from the west as we can at most get up to 21 tickets, multiply by a value of 1.
We can also get twice on the west but there is a risk that the game will end before we can score the second time. That also requires getting one more ticket at least.
In 2 player game, one player will always get 30 points bonus than the other because of this Captain Points. The designer admitted in this thread that it can be brutal if both players weren’t really trying to compete for the Captain Points at all.
According to him, that 30 points difference is actually based a lot of playtests with 2 players. It is necessary to create enough tension and interaction, encouraging players to take advantage of the Stave Church.
But then, there is no guarantee that both players will pursue that strategy. On the other hand, it kind of limit the replay value that players will have to always pursue the same path.
I think they can still create tension by using the solo rule for that where if players didn’t get 50 Captain Points, they will lose another 15. This is already a multiplayer solitaire game to begin with.
I still think it doesn’t change the fact that the Captain Points and Stave Church kind of limit the replay value regardless of the variant.
That is it with the last part of the Score Sheet and also for discussing all of the components to play the game. Now, we can learn how to play Riverside.
How to Play
Riverside is a competitive game for 1 up to 6 players. This is basically a multiplayer solitaire game, so how we play the game is the same regardless of player count. Only the solo mode has slightly different scoring rules.
Each round one player will roll all of the dice. Then all players will have access to these same dice roll and make decision based on them. They will use their own identical sheet and score points at the end.
This next video is an instructional of how to play Riverside by Chilifox Games, the publisher.
1st. Give each player one SCORE SHEET from the SCORE PAD and a PENCIL. Return the unused sheet and pencils to the box. The sheets are identical on both sides and we will use just one side for every session.
2nd. Next step is to create the GAME BOARD. First, we take 10 BASE RIVER TILES and place them randomly to create a grid of 2 rows and 5 columns. Make sure that the rounded corner of each tile should be facing outside the board.
Second, we take the WEST TILE and place it to connect the left end of the grid and the EAST TILE to connect the right end. The Game Board is now complete for the basic variant.
3rd. Place the CRUISE TOKEN with the STANDEE on the starting point of the WEST TILE. The starting point has that same cruise icon on it.
4th. Choose one player to be the Captain and give that player the CAPTAIN TILE and all 6 DICE. This player will be in charge of rolling the dice at the beginning of every round. Place the tile on the table with space for dice rolling.
That’s the setup and we are ready to play the game.
Riverside is played over several rounds. Each round mostly consists of 3 phases:
One. Roll Dice and Move Ship
Two. Choose Dice and Fill Seats
Three. Go on Excursions
The game keeps going until the end game has been triggered which is always after Phase 1 and before Phase 2. Once triggered the game ends immediately and players proceed to final scoring phase to determine the winner.
Phase 1: Roll Dice and Move Ship
First, the Captain roll the green die and place it in the heating area of the Captain Tile. Then the Captain roll all 5 base dice.
Next, we have to find the TEMPERATURE of the round. To do it, we sort all 5 base dice in ascending order. The value of the third die becomes the median or the temperature of the round.
Any dice with the same value or below this Median Value should be placed in the lower area of Captain Tile. The rest of the dice with a value above the median should be placed in the heating area next to the green die.
It is possible that all dice will be placed in the bottom area.
The next thing to do in this phase is to MOVE THE SHIP on the board. We move the ship a number of space equal to the median or temperature value of the round. The ship moves by following the White dotted line.
Phase 2: Choose Dice and Fill Seats
This phase is executed simultaneously by all players. Each player choose ONE BASE DICE. All players can choose the same dice if they want. They only take the value not physically take the die itself.
Players can also add the value of the GREEN DIE and the the sum will be that player’s dice value of the round.
For every die that the player choose from the heating area, that player must spend a number of Fire Symbols, equal to the die value. That means if only green die that was chosen from the heating area, we only pay the value of that green die.
Otherwise we pay the total sum of both dice. To indicate that we have spent the Fire, we cross out one Fire symbol on our sheet for every die value from the heating area.
NOTE: If we do not have enough Fire Symbols, we have to pick different die or set of dice.
The chosen dice value will be used to FILL SEATS.
We can only fill seats of the Guide Boat that has the matching color as the chosen base die. The seats are the circular icon with emoji in it.
To fill the seats, we cross out that icon, one die value per seat. We can only cross the icon on each row from left to right. However, we can choose any row and we don’t need to complete a row before starting a different one.
If all seats have been filled, any additional crosses are lost. We do not use the excess on different Guide Boat.
The next thing we do in this phase is to CROSS OUT TICKETS AND BONUS SEATS. That is if we have completed a row of seats.
For each completed row, we cross out the corresponding TICKET icon on the same row and the BONUS SEATS. Then, we fill another row of seats that has the matching color as the bonus, crossing out either 1 or 2 seats.
This can lead to completion of multiple rows in the same turn. We can resolve the bonus in any order that we want.
The last part of this phase is the ROYAL SEATS that can activate ROYAL POWER.
Royal Seats are the purple icon of regular seats. If we can cross out both from the same Guide Boat, we activate the corresponding ROYAL POWER. We cross out the box above the Royal Power icon to indicate that the power has been activated.
During this Phase 2, we can activate two of the ROYAL POWERS: the FAN BASE and WARM NIGHT. Fan Base will add 3 seats to the chosen dice color when filling seats.
Warm Night allows us to not pay any Fire if we choose to add the dice value from the green dice. We still need to pay the base die value if the value is higher than the median or temperature.
NOTE: We cannot use these 2 powers in the same round as they were activated.
Phase 3: Go on Excursions
This phase is also performed simultaneously by all players. Players may, but does not have to go on excursions. Going on Excursions involve two parts.
First, we need to CHOOSE A VILLAGE to send the boat to. Village always has an excursion icon and the value at the top. Moving the boat to the village means reaching the space with a pier icon.
We can only choose one and only one village within the Boat Range. The shortest amount of range is 3 from the Cruise Ship.
We can extend this range by spending the +1 symbol for one additional space at the top of the sheet and cross it to indicates that we have spent them. Each player can use up to 3 +1 symbols which they can use all in the same turn or separately.
If at this point, we have activated the SPEED BOAT from Royal Power, the base boat range become 6 and we can still add +1 symbols to it. Cross out the Royal Power icon to indicate that we have used it.
The boat can always move in any directions and it doesn’t have to follow the white dotted line like the Cruise. If there is an intersection, the boat can cross through that and we can choose the village on the other row.
During this phase, we do not move the Cruise Ship. Thematically, the Cruise is deploying boats to various village bringing passengers to those village for excursion,
After we have chosen the village, we will SCORE EXCURSION POINTS from that village.
To score excursion points, we simply multiply the value stated on that village with the number of crossed out tickets with the matching color or excursion type. We use the number of tickets but not the value of individual tickets. So, each excursion usually can score up to 4 tickets.
However, there is an additional criteria.
The score must be higher than the previous excursions of the same type. Tie is not enough and the first excursion can be any value.
We can only score 3 times for each excursion type and we write each excursion score on the space after the ticket icons of the corresponding type or color.
Also, we cannot undo the previous excursions.
In this process, we do not use up tickets. Those same tickets will be used again for subsequent excursions of the same type. We are not allowed to score with less number of tickets than what we have.
We can also score Excursions from the same village several times during the game. That is as long as the score is still higher than the previous excursions. Usually, we need just one more ticket.
If the village has multiple types of excursions, we can score both or just one of them. Each type will score separately based on the number of tickets with the matching type or color.
Using the same system, we can also score from the STAVE CHURCH and fill the score in the space at the bottom row of the sheet. We can only score from this twice in the game.
Unlike the other type of excursion, the tickets to score from Stave Church comes from all tickets of all Excursion types. So, it can go up to 20 tickets and we multiply that with the value from either 2 Stave Churches.
At this point, if we have activated the EARLY BIRDS from Royal Power, we can do one more excursion this round. Also combine with the Speed Boat, this second excursion will have the extended range as well.
Another Royal Power that we can use during this phase is the PRIZE TICKET. This will add one more ticket when scoring for the excursion and multiply it to the village value.
This one only works for one type or color of excursion or Stave Church in a single round. That means if we choose a village with multiple excursions, the power only add to one color. The same goes with the second excursion from Early Bird Power.
This is how we can get higher Excursion score from the same village.
The game ends immediately after Phase 1 of a round if the cruise ship reaches or passes the exit point space or the space with the Anchor icon. If that happens, there will be no Phase 2 and 3, no more filling seats and go to excursion.
Players will then proceed to scoring. Otherwise the game continues. That means, we can predict a bit during the previous round whether there is going to be another Phase 2 and 3 or not.
Players will calculate their final score from 2 things, The GUIDE BOATS and CAPTAIN POINTS plus BONUS or PENALTY.
For the Guide Boats, each player count score from each type of excursion individually first.
First we count the total value of the crossed out tickets and write it on the first space under the sigma and ticket icon. Second, we count the total value of all excursion points for that type. It is possible to fill all 3 excursions, some or none at all.
We write the sum in the second space under the sigma and pier icon. Then, we get a total score for that excursion by adding the total Tickets Value and the total Excursion Points and write it on the final space.
We do this for all 5 Guide Boats and write the total Guide Boats Points.
For Captain Points, we first get the total excursion points from the Stave Church, similar to the other 5 Guide Boats. Only this one, we can only have up to 2 excursions.
We write the total Excursion points in the next space under the sigma and pier icon. For the next space, it has a green hexagonal space with the word MIN right below that space.
This indicates that we have to choose the Excursion Points from one of the Guide Boats with the lowest value. The score for this can be zero.
Next, we count the total score from Stave Church Excursion Points and that lowest Guide Boat points. The sum of those two becomes the CAPTAIN POINTS.
We write the score in the box with the Captain icon above it. Next is how to count the BONUS / PENALTY.
Between this box and the space next to it, there is a line that says +/- 15 points sign. Right below that, there is another line that says MAX/MIN followed by a Captain icon.
In a multiplayer mode, we have to compare our CAPTAIN POINTS with the other players’ Captain Points. Whoever has the most gain 15 points bonus and whoever has the least lose 15 points.
In SOLO MODE, we always gain 15 points as long as we have at least 50 Captain Points. If not, we lose 15 points
Then we can count the total by adding the Captain Points with the bonus or substracting it with the penalty. We can write the result in that final space.
The FINAL SCORE is the sum of GUIDE BOATS POINTS and this CAPTAIN POINTS with the BONUS / PENALTY.
Whoever score the most points wins. In case of a tie, player with the most Captain Points wins. If there is still a tie, the tied players shares the victory.
The game also comes with ACHIEVEMENT list that we can find on the last page of the rulebook. In Solo mode, scoring at least 300 Points is considered as a win.
Here is the list.
199 or less: You must explain yourself to the Captain,
200 – 224: The Captain treats you as a trainee.
225 – 249: Decent. The Captain believes in you.
250 – 274: Good. Wear your uniform with pride.
275 – 299: Very Good! You get a pay raise.
300 – 324: Impressive! You get a seat at the Captain’s table.
325 – 349: Fantastic! The Captain honors you during dinner.
350 – 374: Excellent! You get a national attention!
375 – 399: Nominated for the best Tour Guide!
400 or more: You are the attraction! The tour guide is just a bonus.
It also says that if we use the EXTENSION VARIANT, we need to substract our Final Score by 25 points before comparing to the Achievement list.
To play with this variant, we add the two Extension River Tiles to the grid. We also place them randomly and make a grid of 2 rows and 6 columns.
Both tiles don’t have to be in the same column. The gameplay is the same as the basic mode.
That is it with how to play Riverside.
My Experience and Thoughts
I started this article with talking about how people can play this game via internet whether with Skype or Zoom but I personally didn’t have that experience. However, I did print out the sheet and try the game out first using the play along video from Rahdo Runs Through channel before I bought the game.
I can say that whoever has the game or manage the component must ready to tell people not just the dice but the nearby villages and their excursion value as well. That was the only thing that was rather difficult during my play.
To be fair, the main purpose of that video was just to showcase how to play but it is possible. It’s just a reminder for anybody planning to do a play along video with this game.
Riverside is probably one of my most played games up to this point. I enjoyed my plays but eventually I’ve reached the point that I probably will learn nothing more from keep playing it. So, it is done not because it is a bad game but I want to keep learning other games.
That being said, there are also some things that don’t meet my expectation. I chose this one because I was looking for a replacement to The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game. That one can be played very quick and I’m willing to play several times in a row because how fast and easy the setup is.
For that reason, I can say that Riverside manage accomplish that goal. It’s still play very fast. Even though it may take a couple of seconds more to setup the board, we can still play it immediately.
We don’t need to change the board. The random dice roll can still offer different experience. If not, we can just switch the position of one or two pair of tiles. We can even switch the West and East Tiles and the game will be different because the villages near the exit and the starting point are different.
Sure, it does lose the portability aspect compared to The Castles of Burgundy. We will need a long table for the board. This is not a game where we can play while travelling.
I guess we can bend the board a bit by separate the board into two parts and become an L shape as long as we can see the connection during moving and excursion.
One of the reason that I like this game compared to other roll and write is the strategic aspect to it. We can examine the entire board and make decision based on the position of the all villages and this can be done right from the start.
But this is also where it doesn’t really meet my expectation. I don’t think that I have ever done that from the start. It’s just the randomness will just ruin the plan.
The way I usually play is then I just make decision as we go. Then after maybe about half point to the game, I will start considering what might happen next. But it is not really a thing that we choose right from the start and commit to it.
It doesn’t make it a bad game but I kind of wish that it could be different. The dice really dictate what will come and the game doesn’t give anything for players to change the course.
Using the median is a brilliant idea. Most of the time we will always get either 3 or 4 so the game will almost always have the same number of round. But occasionally, I did experience where it end too soon because we got a lot of 5 or 6 as median. I also got the other end of the spectrum with low median.
I agree with somebody that said there is randomness but it affects every player. What that means is there is a chance that everybody can agree that the current dice roll is just bad. When something like that happens, they can just ask everybody to just continue or reroll.
Although I think it will be fair during the first couple of rounds. By the time we get to the end, bad roll for one player might be good for the others. At least, if I play solo, I can decide to just reroll, especially before the exit point.
I’m actually surprised that the Extensions with just 2 additional space are enough to make the game last longer. Even just a bit but most of the time, it is enough for me to fill every almost every seat. While with basic mode we have significantly more empty seats.
I guess my biggest issue with Riverside is the true replay value, even though I already played more than 30 times at this point. Regardless of the randomness from board and the dice, I will always play the same way.
It is basically about efficiency. Which dice to choose for the best result. Most of the time, we have to choose the free dice or those with the same value as median or lower.
Going for the higher value will just waste the Fire Symbols. There is a better way to utilize it. However, it still happens where I think choosing that dice is a better option.
Since we always get the same amount of Fire symbols and there is no way in the game to add the supply. We also do not get anything at the end for unused Fire. So, the question is, what is the best way or time to spend those Fires?
In my early plays, I asked myself whether the Fire is enough or not for the entire games. After multiple plays I think the best way to use them is just to spend them as early as we can. I no longer think that it won’t be enough until the end.
Hopefully, we use them effectively that it allows us to activate those Royal Powers and have time to use those powers. So, it’s about trading those Fires into Royal Powers.
While I always pursue the white one so I can get two excursions in a round but it doesn’t mean without that I cannot get as much score. I think it really matters as when should we use it.
I’m not saying that each type of excursion is equally balanced but overall, I think we will get the same result. It’s easier to get over 100 points with the white one than from other colors. However, I still get around the same total score even when I got low score from the white.
But it is very rare to fail on the white since 3 other types have bonus that can lead to white. So, maybe I just got lucky on that one, but it is still possible to score high without the white.
I’m really not sure about the Stave Church and the Captain. I think it really hurts the replay value. At first, I tried to score both excursions from both villages. Most of the time, either I won’t be able to score the second time with the village near the exit or I will score very low and got the penalty from the Captain points.
The reason for failing the second time is mostly because I probably will not have enough tickets to get higher value. Maybe they should lower the value from the first one to 1.5 instead of 2? Or use 2 on the first and 1.5 for the second.
What will happen is that we will end up having to score twice from the first one, ignoring the second one. I’ve been playing like that ever since. We also cannot go the first Stave Church excursion early because it will deplete the +1 extensions which we may need later.
I’m still not sure about doing twice with the second church. Based on most of my plays, I got at most a total of 17 tickets just from the Guide Boats. The average is probably 15 or less.
So, if I focus on the second one, the second excursions is probably just 17 or 18 points. But maybe the first one is about 15 or 16 because it will only have 1 or 2 tickets difference. More likely it will be 13 + 15.
That is a bit lower than the other strategy with just going to the first church twice. With that one, I can go even over 40 points and the lowest would be around 25 up to 30 from both excursions. With just the second Stave Church, That 35 is probably the most.
I get that the Stave Church makes the game more interesting and more tension. But maybe I wish that it is part of the random modular board in the middle grid.
I suspect they will need to add more rules like both excursions cannot be near each other if they do so. It will increase the setup time and become fiddly just to setup.
Or just separate the Stave Church from the Captain Points and its bonus or penalty. Otherwise, it makes no sense not to pursue the Stave Church and that one strategy. It is very powerful, especially if we get the bonus. I already mentioned above that I can get almost 100 points just from Captain points plus bonus which can be a quarter of total points.
And it was not the best part of this game. The best part is how we get 3 excursion points per type which forces us to keep evaluating the entire board. But because we have to chase the church, when we are about to visit the church, we have to ignore the other excursions.
Let’s say near the first church, there is a village with the highest value for the white or Polar bear excursions which has a value of 12. If we have 4 tickets, that can give 48 points while the Stave church will just give like 20 points.
However, it is very unlikely we will have all 4 tickets by that point. Usually we are in the middle of scoring either the first or second Polar Bear excursion.
It is still possible to always focus on just one type but is that efficient enough? Because if we are still pursuing the first Stave Church twice, we will want to fill the smaller boat first with 3 or 4 seats from all type.
From my plays, I can consistently get between 6 up to 10 tickets before reaching to the first Stave Church, with 7 or 8 being the most likely. That means I get between another 8 to 10 tickets on the second half.
According to the designer’s explanations, there are two main Strategies in Riverside. Either we spread evenly to all 5 excursions or just focus on several and the latter is considered as easier.
Based on his explanation, I think the way I play can be considered as the second strategy. He also admitted that if both players in 2 player mode pursue the first one, the Captain Bonus / Penalty can be brutal. Which one is better depends on the board.
I can see that if near the exit, the villages only have low value excursions. So, maybe right from the start we can choose to focus on going to Stave Church twice near the end. But I feel like it still depends on the dice roll along the way, which can lead how we get the Power and the excursions.
I think I would rather just be done with Stave Church as soon as possible because it is easier to predict. Maybe there is a significantly different way to play this game but my head just do not work that way.
Somebody also said that the sheet themselves kind of limit the replay value because of the combos that we can get will always be the same. There is a chance that if we use different sheet like if the Polar Bear has different amount of seats, while the value on the board remains the same, the game will be unbalance.
So, it seems the game will need a lot of rework to be expandable. Not saying that the designers have the intention for doing so or even to release an expansion. Maybe they can make a variant for the sheet that is still compatible with the board but it will be amazing if they can still add new features without breaking it.
Despite all of that, as I said, I still enjoy this base game alone. It managed to meet my expectation for a filler game with quick setup and interesting gameplay. In the second half of the game, that strategic part where we have to plan ahead how we can score these multiples boats still gives interesting decision space.
But it also opened a new expectation with the form factor which probably won’t be fulfilled. Once we have played enough, we will eventually see the limit. A lot of setup variability will not change the game significantly unless the designer can add more content to the game.
Session Reports and Pictures
Usually, I share a session report of playing a game on BGG. Here are the links of each session for this game.
I also put turn-by-turn pictures of a session and unboxing pictures for every game on my collection that anybody can find on my Instagram. For this game, search for #RiversideAtHomeOfMark on IG for all of the sessions.
Riverside is one of the tabletop games with roll and write genre. The game is about tourism in a cruise and inviting passengers to join in excursions to various different villages with local attractions like polar bear, reindeer, ice fishing, mountain climbing or local brew house.
What makes them unique compared to other similar games is the used of communal board. Each player still uses their own score sheet to fill and make decision based on the same set of dice each round.
This communal board uses modular tiles to create a long board with a grid of 2 rows and 5 columns, connected on both ends. On this communal board, we will place a cruise token at the starting points and it will move across all tiles until it reaches the exit point.
Along the way, the cruise will come closer to various different villages. Each village has their own excursions with various value. We can score from them by having an excursion to this village which will happen once per round.
Before we can go to excursions, we first need to fill the seat of boats with passengers. Each round we will roll 5 base dice and 1 green die that can determine the number of seats of boat that we can fill in. All 5 base dice have their own color so we can only fill the boats of the corresponding type.
The value of the green one can be added to the based die of our choice but we need to spend 1 Fire symbols for each value. From these 5 dice, we have to sort them in ascending order and the third one will be the median value.
Any die with the same or lower value than the median will be free to use. On the other hand, if we choose a die with higher than median value, we also need to spend Fire symbols.
The goal is to fill up to 4 boats from each type. Only after the boat is full, we can send them out to a village with corresponding attractions to score excursion points.
Each village has a value and we can only score 3 times during the game for each type of excursions. Another restriction is that the next excursion of a type must generate higher score than previously. The score comes from the value of the village, multiply by the number of filled out tickets.
Because of this, we will have to examine the entire board and figure out the best time to score from various different places. It is possible that we have more tickets but since the value on the village is low, we cannot get higher excursion score. This gives a strategic feeling to the experience.
The overall layout will also dictate how we fill in the boat. We can fill smaller boat first so we can score immediately with excursion or we can choose larger boats that require more seats.
The 2 larger boats have royal Seats. If we can fill them, we will activate one time ability. Each type of excursion has their own Royal Power. The powers allow us to have second excursions, get 3 additional passengers, one ticket more, free green die value or extend the boat range.
The cruise itself will keep moving in one direction. While the boat for excursion can only reach village within 3 spaces from the cruise itself. So, that gives another challenge to when we score.
The cruise will move a couple of space determined by the median value of the round. It is possible that it may skip some villages that we want to visit. There is a way to extend the boat range but it is very limited. The game can end early or takes longer depending on this median value.
Aside from 5 local attractions, there is one more excursion that can happen, which is the Stave Church. For this, we can only score twice and this will affect the Captain Points. This one counts the number of tickets from all excursions.
The Captain Points is probably the only interaction between players. Whoever score the most Captain points will get extra 15 points bonus while the lowest one will lose another 15.
Those 30 point difference can be huge and players probably have to chase them. Sadly, this means limiting the chance to pursue different strategy and the game kind of lose a replay value.
We count the total score from all Guide or attraction boats, the Captain points with the bonus or penalty to determine the winner.
Riverside may sound more complicated than most games in this roll and write genre. But it is not. It is still a filler game with extra setup with the board. It plays very fast and with another sheet and randomize the board a bit, we can immediately play the game again.
The random dice value still significantly determines the outcome. However, it affects all players equally and I have never felt like losing the game because of keep getting bad rolls. We still have choice as how to fill different boat which can give different bonus seats. There will be some combos of actions from one type of excursions to another.
More Similar Games
There are many tabletop games out there whether a board or card game that might share some similarities with Riverside. Some people may look for those similarities that they enjoy. It can be the mechanism or even just the same theme or setting.
Usually a board game will have a lot of elements. It is kind of difficult find another game where everything is similar. Which is why, in this section, I try to break them into things that I enjoy from the game and point out games that share the same experience.
These next games are just some games that I have tried, played and written a review for them, up to this point. Check out the link to each article to find out more and also check this Complete list for more games.
Roll and Write Games
This is a broad genre with a lot of games out there. What makes this genre so appealing is the very easy and fast setup. Usually, we just take a sheet and roll the dice and we can begin playing the game.
Because it is so fast, we can play the game again right away. To be fair, the setup in Riverside is more demanding a bit compared to other games in this genre. However, I still find it very fast compared to card games or bigger board games.
Another thing is that, Riverside may lose the portability a bit compared to these games because Riverside has game board. The long form of the board even demand specific size of the table.
The first game that I can think of with this feature is The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game. As I said, that this one doesn’t have a board and the playtime is also faster.
In Riverside, there is a spatial element from the main Game Board. While with this one, the spatial puzzle is on our sheet. We will be trying to expand the territory to open up more opportunity in future turns.
Both games have multiple sections that we can work on. We will be switching from one section to another based on the dice roll. Other than that, there is no combo like one action that can lead to another in the same turn in this Burgundy game.
We also need to choose a pair of dice to use every turn with one being the number and the other being the color. There is a chance that we may not get a good roll from it but the game gives some mitigations. Riverside is more about bonus actions.
Kingdomino Duel is another Roll and Write game that I have played. This one is a bit different than Burgundy and Riverside as it is only for 2 players. Instead of communal dice where all players have the same access to all dice, each player will draft 2 out of 4.
With that idea alone, this one has more player interactions while the previous 2 are more multiplayer solitaire. In this one, instead of just crossing icons and making combos, we have to draw. From the 2 dice, we will create a domino tile and draw those icons on our sheet.
Like in Domino game, we can only draw if we can connect the same icons as the previous tiles. We want to make a group of same icons while opening opportunities for other icons.
Making a group won’t be enough to score points. We also want to choose a die face that has a cross icon. The crosses are the ones that gives point.
Similar to Riverside, we can also activate some one time abilities. The two players will be competing for these as well. Only one of them can activate and use it, denying the opponent.
I think because of the interaction, the game can take longer. While it is portable and fast to setup again, I rarely play this game multiple times in a row.
One of the satisfying part of playing Riverside is finding combo of actions. Which row that we can fill that can lead to filling one or more rows? We have to evaluate the possibilities from 5 dice plus one green and choose one to get the most result.
We may even try to create that opportunity by leaving just enough seats hoping that the bonus seats from a different row can fill that gap.
I think there are a lot of roll and write games that can do this like That’s Pretty Clever! game and their sequels but I haven’t tried them. So, here are some games but not from the same genre that I think can give that same experience.
Usually games that can give this experience will use the Action Points mechanism. We have a number of actions we can do and hopefully one action can compliment the subsequent actions.
Riverside, technically, only has one action per turn. But the value of the chosen dice can be filled to multiple rows of the same type and this can lead to different bonuses.
One of the games with this idea that I have played is Café. In this one, we actually start with just 1 Action Point and as the game progresses, we can increase the number.
The theme is about processing coffee beans from production until we can deliver them to either warehouse or coffee shops. Each action point allows us to push the process from one part to another.
The challenge is that the space for that process must be emptied first before it can be refilled with the new beans. So, it’s not just about moving pieces in linear fashion but there is timing aspect to it. If we cannot do that, we will lose the action points in the game of fixed number of rounds.
Other games can also have Action Points in the form of worker pawns. So, games with worker placement mechanism can fit in this category.
One game from this category that I have played is Targi. This is a game only for 2 players. Each round we will be placing 3 Targi figures on action cards and the intersection created by 2 figures will give additional actions.
The similarity between this and Riverside happens after both players are done placing their 3 figures. Each figure means one action. The order of which figure to activate first is what makes it similar to Riverside.
Ideally, the action from one figure can help the action of another figure. Like one figure to generate resources and that can fulfill the requirement for trine expansion done by another figure. Or, the second figure is to make sure that the excess resources can be traded into points instead of wasted.
Similar worker placement game but only for 1 player is Maquis. In this one, we have 3 workers from the start which we can increase up to 5. After we have placed all of the workers, then, we begin with the activation part similar to Targi and Riverside.
But this aspect is minor compared to Targi. Sometimes we have to place the worker just to secure the escape route which doesn’t contribute anything to the action combos.
For a bigger game, I have played Coimbra. That action combos can happen in this game actually twice. One for the acquiring card phase and the other during the income phase.
During the Acquiring phase, the order of how we activate is already determined by the auction previously. But we still want to make sure that we can still afford the subsequent acquiring process. This will change what we will do with the earlier dice worker.
During the Income phase, this combo only matters if we have the purple dice that can move our Pilgrim. The Pilgrim can increase the influence level of different track and when we activate the income of that track, we can get higher bonus. So, it is a bit situational.
For a game with totally different theme, Tiny Epic Defenders also uses this Action Point system. This is a tower defense game, in medieval fantasy setting. In this one, we will be playing heroes from multiple different races, fighting against hoard of monsters to defend a Castle.
Each turn a character can have up to 4 Action Points that they can spend to either Move, Attack, Defend, Secure or Activate Ability. The challenge is that we don’t know when a character will gain their turn.
We have to make sure that whoever goes first can defend the Castle long enough until the next character take their turn. Sometimes one character can give extra AP for the next character or they can help the other character move one or 2 spaces so that they can use the AP for other things.
For a card game, I think Quests of Valeria can give this experience. This is another game in medieval fantasy setting where we will be recruiting characters to complete quests.
In this one each turn, one player can do 2 actions. Most of the actions require some sort of resources, including a number of card to be discarded. Other action allows us to gain those cards or resources.
Ideally, we want the second action to generate resources or cards so that we can use for the 1st action of the next turn. We can also do both to generate resources but there is a limit to the number of cards we can have. Also, we are competing to complete the quest first.
Dynamic Spatial Scoring Opportunity
The next and probably the most interesting part of playing Riverside is the spatial scoring opportunity. I’m talking about the excursion part where we can send the boat to nearby villages and get score.
It’s like contract fulfillment game but there is spatial element added to it so that it cannot be done anytime. We have to wait until the cruise is close enough to score for it. But there is a risk that the cruise might skip that village.
On top of that, there is a moving aspect of the cruise, which is out of our control. We can choose how to move the boat but not the cruise and this creates timing and add tension to the game. We will have to make decision whether to score now or never.
There is also a restriction where we have to score higher with the subsequent excursion of the same type than previously. This encourages players to be strategic and examine the entire board and understand the route. Sometimes they have to reevaluate their plan and examine what’s coming.
We will see an opportunity for scoring is coming and we will make decision onwards to increase the chance to take that opportunity.
All of these things combined make Riverside a unique game, at least for me up to this point. Clearly I’ve never played games quite like this. But there are some with maybe closer experience to that.
For that experience, I already mentioned above about The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game. In this one, it may not have a communal board but each player has their own board, with a lot of hexes to fill in. So, we will have a plan from the start or early in the game as which direction are we going to expand our territory.
The spatial aspect is that we cannot just fill any hexes but we have to start from the adjacent previously filled hex. To fill the next hex, it is based on each dice roll on every turn, not accumulation from previous dice roll like in Riverside.
The hexes will have groups of different color hexes. We can only score if we have completed filling all hexes in one group. Similar to Riverside, there is a scoring restriction. If we can complete those groups early like in first round, we can get higher score. So, this one is more rewarding.
Depending on the dice roll, we might not be able to complete the group we already started.
This dynamic spatial scoring opportunities also reminds me of Adventure of D, which is a game with totally different theme. This also uses modular board and we have to move our pieces from one card or tile to another.
What makes them similar is that every turn, there is going to be an event card that will appear randomly on one of the location card. There is a chance to control what’s coming so that the event will be close enough to our position.
Then we can move to that location and try to beat the challenge to gain the benefit. The decision is based on our hand of cards which can determine whether we can beat the challenge of that event or not.
There is also a timing aspect to this. Other competing players can complete the challenge first or they can remove that event from the board. Even without the event, we can still use the action on the board and we can make a plan based on the setup alone.
The same designer also made Goblins vs Zombies, which is a tower defense card game. There will be Zombie cards coming towards Goblin village and we only have one line of defense to deploy our defending Goblins.
These zombies will have to move up to 2 spaces before they reach the village. So, we have time to take them out. However, some will have different speed and strength so we need to make decision as which zombies we need to defeat first.
This is a totally different game as we have the pressure that we cannot allow any zombies to pass the defense line or we lose immediately. While in Riverside and other games that I mentioned here, we can just let them go and wait for the next opportunity.
I think any card game where there is a card river system on the market can give that feel a bit. Most of the time it only happens in solo variant in any of these games.
Every round we have to discard one face up card from the market, usually on the cheapest end, and slide the rest to that side. In that system, we know the card is coming and we have time before the card gets removed. Sometimes we still need to let that one go because there is a better card that just came out from the deck.
For that experience, I already mentioned Quests of Valeria. I’m specifically talking about the Quest Cards in solo mode. We want to target and complete the best quests cards. Either we complete it immediately or reserve it which will take one action to do.
Other card game with this moving market is Walking in Burano, but this is not only in solo mode. In this one, we have several columns of cards on the market area and each one will have 3 rows for different type of building cards.
We can only choose one column and take from 1 up to all 3 cards. The challenge is that to take the card in the second row, we must first take the card from either the first or the third row or alongside those two rows.
After we have taken the card then the cards will slide down separately to fill the gap. Because of this each column may have different set of cards when it comes back to our turn.
In solo, we might want to take that into consideration so on the next turn, we can also take the right set of cards. However, in multiplayer mode, either we mess up the next player’s plan or we are giving them better set of cards.
A different drafting game with similar river system from the market is Ankh’or. This is actually a tile drafting game. The market itself in this game will not reset automatically after one player has taken a tile from it.
Instead, we have to spend a token to slide the available remaining tiles so that they will be on the cheaper spot. What makes this game unique is that the cost is tied to each market spot instead of the tile themselves.
So, when we want to reset the market with that special token, we want to make sure that the tile that we are targeting will land in the right spot. If we have the right set of resources as that spot, we can immediately take that tile.
That is all I can share with you about a roll and write board game called Riverside. This may not be my first roll and write game but this is the first one that uses a communal board. Hopefully I can find more games like this.
I may have missed something that I should have discussed regarding the game. Please don’t hesitate to point that out and share what you know related to this game and I will update this article.
I keep saying that these tabletop games can be a good way to spend some time without looking at the screen of our gadget. If we do have someone close, that we can play with, there are other games where we can play cooperatively or competitively but with a lot of player interaction.
The game can be very fast or like a filler type or it can take hours to play. Some games can also be played in solitaire mode and they are still more engaging than other entertainment activity. Some may say, it’s like a workout for the gray matter of our brain.
So, what is your experience on playing this game? If you know other games similar or even better than this, please do share via the comment section below. I would love to learn and play that game, assuming I can get a copy.
This article is just my notes about what I can find from the internet. Hopefully this can help anybody who reads it.
Thanks for reading.