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Subject: The Rhine Robber's adventures in a quasi-deduction game a la Tobago rss

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Manuel Pasi
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Historical Background: During a five year stretch in the late 18th century Johannes Bückler (aka Schinderhannes) achieved fame as Soonwald's (a forest region around Mainz) very own Robin Hood. Except that he not only stole from the rich and never ever gave to the poor. And was an actual historic figure. And spent more time being caught and escaping then actually robbing. And was executed in the end when the invading french tried their guillotine on him.
Ok, ok, so he is nothing like Robin Hood at all! whistle But he might have worn tights...then again maybe not. All I am saying: he was a robber and a famous one at that!


image by lackund feder

Overview:The players take the roles of locals who are sitting over a map of the region trying to pinpoint the 16 crimes Schinderhannes committed to the 16 villages on the map. They achieve this by exchanging hearsay stories and rumors.
BTW, this game is an updated rethemed and streamlined version of Old Town by the same author.

Components:In the smallsized box you'll find a board depicitng a map of the Soonwald region, 4 meeples in the players' colours that serve as scoring tokens, a stack of 76 information cards, 80 clue markers, 5 crimescene tiles and a bilingual rulebook.


Image by lackundfeder

The artwork on the board, the cards and the different tokens is very detailled, thematic and in my book quite beautiful.
Compared to Old Town it's not just a different league it's a different galaxy.
The rulebook as well as all relevant in-game text on the cards is bilingual (German/English). There is some board warpage in the beginning as well as a strong new card smell but considering that this is a product from a small publiher, I must say that I am quite impressed with the component quality.


image by lack und feder

Rulebook:The rulebook is very detailled with lots of picture examples and (with the exception of one possible endgame scenario that is somewhat unclear how to score) very precise and leaves no questions.
What really sets this rulebook apart is the extensive historical background section the author has added. This gives the game an extra layer of theme. thumbsup for that!

Gameplay:Because of the quite unique gameplay I will not try and give a detailled look into the rules (there are rules posted in the files section), but try to provide you with some feel as how the game plays out.
On a turn one plays an info card from the hand to either place cluemarkers for a specific crime or to remove cluemarkers that were placed earlier. Whenever a player achieves to remove one or several marker(s) he receives a point per marker removed.


Example of information cards; image by lackundfeder

The rules while relatively numerous are actually quite simple and boil down to this: you are only allowed to play a card if it doesn't defy any of the onboard logic and leaves no ambiguity (eg. you are not allowed to place any cluemarkers if there are more possible crime locations than markers).
While in the first couple of rounds all the scoring and keeping track of which markers can be placed and removed is a bit confusing, gameplay is so intuitiv that you very quickly get a hang of it and start planning your moves more carefully.
As I stated in the title, the game is not really a deduvtive one, since at the beginning of a game the result is not set but steadily determined by the players' moves. This is a trait it shares with the much better known Tobago.

Scalability: The game should scale very well from 2-4 players (I only have experienced the 2p version). It's bound to become much more chaotic and much less plannable the more players you add .
There is even a solo variant included which comes as a set of 4 preset puzzles to be solved.

Luck factor:There is some luck involved in the card drawing element and at times your opponent will play a card that will nullify your carefully laid-out plans. All in all though strategy and tactics play a much bigger part.

Conclusion:As you probably can tell, I like this game quite a bit. It is original, the theme is very well integrated and the gameplay is quick and exciting.
Compared to Tobago, which awed me with its components then let me down with its fiddliness and an unsatisfying close-but-no-cigars feel, this feels much more streamlined; the decisions way more meaningful.
Plus you get to meet my boyhood hero Robin Hood...kind of.

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Sounds excellent...now to extract a copy from Clicker.

Thanks for the review!
 
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Deb Wentworth
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Are the cards printed in both languages? And if they are, how big is the English font?

I bought Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg only to trade it away without playing it because the English print on the cards was too small to easily read.
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Manuel Pasi
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The cards are printed in German and English...so no sweat
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Deb Wentworth
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Thanks for the quick reply!
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Manuel Pasi
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no problem...although i have to add that the English print is smaller than the German, should be large enough though (plus it's very easy to remember what to do anyways)
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