Niagara the Board Game

Niagara the Board Game

Continuing in our series on Media inspired by Niagara Falls is the highly rated board game: Niagara.

Niagara the Board Game Explained

Board Game of the Year

Niagara is a board game designed by Thomas Liesching and published by Zoch Zum Spielen and Rio Grande Games in 2004. Niagara won the Spiel des Jahres (German for Game of the Year) and was one of the winners Mensa Mind Games competition in 2005. Niagara also finished in 2nd place in the Deutscher Spiele Preis (German Game Prize) and 3rd place in the Schweizer Spielepreis (Swiss board game award).

Niagara the Board Game Set-up

Typically played by 3 to 5 players, Niagara is a game that involves a great amount of strategy as players will soon realize that they need to be careful when choosing how they want to move through the river stream. This game is played on a hinged board designed to sit on top of the game box and represent Niagara Falls as a flap hanging over the river edge. 12 plastic discs are used for this game as they are placed in the river in various points of the game. These discs act as board spaces and they are moved downstream toward the waterfall.

Niagara the Board Game

As brave travelers in canoes battling the wild rapids, the main objective of this game is to collect gems and return them to land in order for them to be counted. The player who collects the most value in gems will be the winner. A player must be the first person to get 4 gems of 1 color, 1 gem of each color or 7 total gems to win.

Niagara the Board Game Rules

Normal playing time per game is 60 minutes. There are 40 gems total, separated by color and placed in their respective mines on the board. A life preserver token serves as an indicator for when it is a player's turn. The red, blue, yellow, green and brown canoes each have 7 tiles that players can use during the game. 6 of these tiles are marked 1 through 6 to indicate how many moves a player has. The other tile contains a cloud symbol, which means that once it is played, the rainmaker token (cloud marker) is moved up a level to affect the movement of the river stream.

Niagara Game Night

To begin play, each player picks a paddle tile from their 7-tile inventory and places it face down on the board. The starting player reveals his or her tile and takes an action, with each player following likewise. Numbered tiles are the amount of Paddle Points that players can spend to move their pieces around in the river. It costs one point per disc to move and loading a canoe with a gem costs 2 points. If both canoes are on land, only one can be moved on that turn. Otherwise, any canoe in the water must move.

When moving a canoe in the water, a player has to pick a direction where the player has to spend all of his or her points, whether upstream or downstream. If a player moves upstream with an empty canoe and lands on the same disc as any loaded canoe, a player can steal that gem free of charge. After everyone has their turn, the river is moved a number of spaces equal to the lowest number tile of that turn, plus and minus the weather modifier (cloud marker).

Closeup of Niagara Falls Board Game

Canoes and gems that over the waterfall are lost and players must spend a gem to retrieve a lost canoe. Used paddle tiles are returned to the players after they go through all 7, and the life preserver turn marker gets moved to another player after every turn.

Since Paddle Points can't be wasted, there is a level of logic one can play to find out what other players are going to do, which opens up the possibility for an attack. Niagara infuses strategy with the element of chance. Niagara keeps each player involved because every round is played fairly quickly. Niagara is a game about taking well-timed, calculated risks to either survive the river or take a gem.

Play Niagara the Board Game for Free

Play an online version of the board game, built for 3-5 players and taking approximately 22 minutes to complete at:

Board Game Arena

This is another piece of media inspired by Niagara Falls; for additional articles on topics such as movies, tv shows, podcasts and books based on Niagara visit our Niagara Falls Blog

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While consuming media on Niagara Falls is certainly interesting, it's clearly an appetizer to the real thing. Visit majestic Niagara Falls, live and in-person, and stay at the Marriott on the Falls hotel, the closest hotel to The Brink of Niagara Falls. For our best rates visit:

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