Ravenous River

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Publisher: AEG

Designer:  Isaac Shalev

Players:  2-7

Time:  20 min.

Ages:  14+

Ravenous River is a quick hidden identity game, designed by Isaac Shavel and produced by Alderac Entertainment Group, that puts you in the middle of a group of animals to be eaten or to eat others.

To begin the game each player is dealt an animal that they keep secret.  The animal you have can be eaten by one other animal and can eat one specific animal as well.  It is a food chain kinda thing.  For instance, the dog will eat the fox and the fox will eat the cat.  Your goal is to be stuck on the bank, boat or home with an animal that you can eat while staying away from the animal that eats you, which may be another player.

After everyone has received their animal, another set of the same animals, are placed face down on the bank and the two boats that are available in the game are placed in front of the animals.  Each player also gets 2 action cards at random.  The game is ready for play.

On your turn you can perform one action.  The actions are; look at one of the face down animals and either put it in a boat or place it back on the bank, play an action card from your hand and follow the action, or discard an action card to place an animal of your choice on a boat from the bank or back to the bank from a boat.  That is it!

Every one continues to do actions until one of two things happen. First, if all players have no more cards in their hands the round is over and the scoring happens.  Second, if at anytime during the round a player ends his turn and they have no cards left and there are 2 animals on each boat, every one votes to either end the round or continue the round. Everyone will get a voting token and the votes are revealed.  The majority will take effect.

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The scoring is pretty simple.  First you score the bank, then the boats and finally home. All the animals will eat who ever they can on the bank first, then the boat and finally at home. You get one point for an animal that you eat.  If the animal you ate also ate an animal then you would get 2 points.  If you survive on the bank, meaning no one ate you, you will get a point.  If you survive at home, you will get 2 points.

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In this example, the cat will eat the mouse and the fox will eat the cat.  The fox will score 2 points.  The lion and the dog are fine and will make it to the shore.  The ox will eat the horse and the ox will make it to the shore, scoring one point for eating the horse.  Once on the shore, the lion will eat the ox giving him 2 points.  The fox will get another point for surviving on the bank and the dog and lion will each get 2 points for surviving on the shore.

This is such a quick fun game for the family.  I really like the strategy of trying to keep your animal’s identify hidden from other players but also needing to be with the animal that you can eat.  Keeping your identity hidden is harder than it seems.  I also like the fact that you want to make it to home so getting on the boat is important.  You can get on a boat with an animal that you eat, but once you move to home, the animal that eats you might be on the other boat.  The action cards can also make things very interesting.  Switching animals on boats or removing a boat altogether changes the strategy mid game.  Kids love the theme, because they get to eat other animals!  I completely disagree with the age requirement printed on the game.  Our 5 year old does very well at this game.  She knows who she wants to eat and who she needs to stay away from.  The whole family enjoys this one and its quick enough to keep their attention.

Until next time…..keep your bellies full!

-Tim