Game Review: Riff Raff
Riff Raff is Christoph Cantzler's beautiful dexterity game from German game house Zoch zum Spielen. Jenga is the game's closest analog that the average North American gamer will have heard of, but Riff Raff is truly closer to Zoch's other titles Hamsterrolle and Bamboleo.
The "board" for lack of a better term is an ingeniously designed wooden sailing ship (complete with a hull, mast, and yardarms) that pivots in all directions. players are burdened with identical sets of eight attractive wooden pieces (barrels, crates, even rats and sailors) that they are trying to stack onto the ship. The first player to rid themself of all their pieces wins. But it sin't as simple as picking a piece of cargo and putting it on the ship.
Players also have a hand of ten numbered cards; one for each of the ten zones of the ship. Players simultaneously choose and reveal cards that will govern where their cargo must be placed. The player with the highest card goes first, and once you've played a card it is gone for good. If no one rids themself of all their cargo, the player with the least cargo left over when the last cards are played wins. The trick is to get your cargo to balance on the ship - if a piece falls off during a player's turn, they must keep it... Unless they can can catch it as it falls. Caught pieces are removed from the game, so a steady had is needed to play well, but fast reflexes can save the day!
Riff Raff is good for 2-4 players ages 8 and up. At $67.95, Riff Raff is certainly a larger investment than some other games, but when you see the components and experience the tense excitement and fun, you will know why Riff Raff is worth it. Whether for a child or an adult gamer, Riff Raff is sure to be a boat load of fun!
In addition to being a Game Guru at Snakes & Lattes, Steve Tassie is an actor, comedian, certified English & drama teacher, writer and game designer. Follow him on Twitter @RealSteveTassie or read the blog he shares with his wife, novelist Christina Upton onesfunnytheothersinsane.wordpress.com.