Recently I got a taste of Nile DeLuxor and by taste I mean I played four games of it. It’s a fun little set collection card game. The object of the game is to have harvested the most of a variety of crops. I’ll explain this in a moment if you’re confused. The crops come in seven different flavors (wheat, lettuce, flax, Papyrus, onions, grapes, and castor) but in the 2-4 player version you only have 5 in the deck, adding one more crop for each player up to six. You start with 5 cards in your hand and on your turn you take the following actions in this order:
- Play or Speculate
You flood by flipping over the top card of the draw pile. This indicates which crops can be harvested in the harvest phase and which crops can’t be planted during the Play or Speculate phase.
The Harvest Phase allows the player or players who have the crops shown on the flood card to harvest one card of that type and place it face down in their scoring pile. I say player or players because some of the cards are speculation cards which have two crop types on them and only one player may have a singular crop type at a time. In other words if I have flax then Jen can’t have flax.
The Trade phase allows you to trade two cards from your hand, your score pile, or a combination of the two, to do two things. You can either flip a new flood card or draw a new card into your hand. You can do this as many times as you are able to in a single turn.
Playing or Speculating is the choice you make now. Playing means you are planting crops but there are some very specific guidelines you must follow when doing so. When playing card or planting crops you can either play exactly two different crop cards into your field, two or more of one type of crop card into your field, or reinforce any crops in your field with as many cards as you’d like. The rub is if you’re planting a new crop into your field it has to have more crop cards than anyone else to be planted. If you do this then the player who now has less crops in their field than you must discard their field to the discard pile. This could probably use an example:
It’s Jen’s turn to play. Her flood card was Papayas and she had three of those in her field so she takes one and puts it in her harvest/score pile. Looking down at her hand she see’s four onion cards. Chris has two onions in his field and knows he needs them to balance out his harvest. She plays her four onions with a smirk as Chris gives her the stare of death and discards his onions. Now Chris starts working on building up onions in his hand to have a chance at winning. He hopes Jen harvests one or two of her onions so he can play more than she has in her field and take control of the onion fields again.
Speculation is a different bag. There are cards in the game which have two crops on them around a circle labeled speculation. Instead of playing cards you can play one or two speculation cards and if the next flood card drawn has a crop on it matching your speculation card or cards you get to draw three cards. This stacks so if you play two speculation cards with castor on them and castor comes up you get six cards. It’s a good way to build up cards but you could also get nothing, hence speculation.
The draw phase is just drawing two cards from the top of the draw pile which ends your turn.
One more thing. There’s a card in the deck called Swarm of Locusts. When this is drawn the player with the largest single crop field loses all the crops as the locusts devour them. This card doesn’t take the place of the drawn card and another is drawn after the swarm is resolved.
Now that I’ve explained the phases of a turn I guess I should tell you how the game ends. There are six season cards. The season changes when the draw pile runs out and the discard and flood pile are reshuffled. What this means is each season will get shorter as people bank cards into their harvest piles or keep cards in their hands which has no limit. Once the sixth season is over the winner is determined by the person with the most variety of crops in the largest number. This needs an example:
I suppose I should throw the length of the game out there. The box says it takes about 30 minutes to play. The first game I played was with 6 people and the expansion and it took somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour. I and my fiancé Jen were new to the game but I believe the other four players had played at least once before. I took the demo copy of the game home and me and Jen played three two player games which took about 30 minutes give or take 5 minutes. Once we got a feel for the game it was really fast.
Nile is the base game Jen and I played three times. The six player game had the expansion which included three monuments and stone, another “crop” to manage. I don’t think I played the expansion enough to get a feel if it’s worth it to have or not but I do know I like the two player version. This game has a little bit of depth to it because of how you can manipulate and manage the draw pile to attempt to get the cards you want or need. It’s also important to keep an eye on your opponents so you can figure out what they’re trying to harvest and what they might have. You can do some nasty things by harvesting and holding cards they might be trying to harvest. The pace of the game seems to flow from a mad grab to get whatever you can in season 1 and 2 to trying to fill in and block your opponents from collection what they need in the later part of the game and because you can play cards to wipe out your opponents fields there’s a bit of a screw your neighbor element to the game. With six it felt like a party game. With two it was very strategic. I’m thinking it plays best with four and well with three but I can’t say for sure. I am looking forward to finding out.
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Chris “The Light” Sniezak