Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Thursday 12 July 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Iquazu

Game: Iquazu

Publisher: HABA

Designer: Michael Feldkötter

Year: 2017

Iquazu comes from the latest crop of HABA Games that don't come in yellow boxes. HABA's recent family games have been a mixed bag for us, with Karuba being a bit, but Adventure Land not making a big impact, Spookies is still sitting on the shelf waiting to be played. Iquazu appealed to me because of it's extremely eye-catching board with beautiful artwork.

So, other than a 3-D waterfall that moves throughout the game, what else does Iquazu have to offer?

Iquazu is a 2-4 player game of set collection and hand management. In each turn you will either draw cards or play cards to place a gem on the board. To place in the first column needs one card in the right colour, the second column takes two, the third column takes three and so on. When a column is filled it will score, but the rows will also score based on majority of each players gems in the row and row scoring gives you bonus tokens, including extra turns, free card draws or just straight onus points. There's an interesting balance between trying to win columns or rows.

The first thing that strikes you about Iquazu is the production quality. At the start of each game you have to ‘build’ the board. Bonus tokens are hidden underneath the waterfall which is then build up out of strips of cardboard. The active area of the board is framed by an iguana. The bright colours and changing board definitely attract the attention of passers-by. The gems in each player colour are also attractive, although they can be quite hard to distinguish when you place them all in the bowl. I’m not sure why there isn’t a simple first player token and then each players keeps hold of their gems.

The board with a window behind the waterfall.
The rules for a turn in Iquazu are very simple, but there’s a lot of strategy and exciting tactical choices to be made on some turns. The is real joy of spotting a great moment to use a bonus, for example an extra turn, then trigger a scoring and rake in a load of bonus tiles through a clever set of moves that puts you in a good position for row scoring, as well as winning the column. I think these opportunities are more prevalent in a two-player game, which is great fun for us, but might cause an imbalance for experienced players, playing with younger players.

My first impressions of the game with two players were that it was really fiddly to figure out when to pass the box of gems and the box of water tokens back and forth. It felt like this just ruined the flow of the game. Once we figured out that each player always took two turns in a row, this really added some strategy to how we played the game and made the first player mechanism smoother. However, after more plays we realised how much power swing was involved in the two-player game and have had a few frustrating run-away victories from players gathering more and more bonuses and denying one-another turns with good manipulation of the water droplets.

The first column is own by yellow, because yellow has the most gems in that column. All of the rewards for the horizontal rows are end-game points in this case.
I don't think the two-player game is flawed, I just think that it demands more brain power than I'm prepared to give to a light family game. There may well be a way to plan many turns ahead and focus your energy on specific columns if you can determine or predict the order of events that will play out in each row or column, but it's a problem aimed at a very advanced statistician, not me!

I do think there's a lot to enjoy about Iquazu, but I'd rather try to play it with three or four players to avoid the big swings in control. . It’s quite a thinky game that looks great on the table, but for me there’s an imbalance between the appearance of a lighter game with some very in depth tactical moments. For the Yellow Meeple it's a 6/10.

Iquazu was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is now available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

No comments:

Post a Comment