Games Gazette Logo

Christoph Cantzler

I am not sure what the very first balancing game ever published was, but the fantastic Bausack was the first I played - and Zoch make a superb version of it. In fact Zoch publish a number of excellent balancing games. Well now you can add Riff Raff to that list of excellence. 

Each piece of wood that makes up the ship and sail-arms has been carefully crafted and polished to ensure maximum slide, and each of the 8 playing piece types - chests, bottles, barrels, rats (the rats are so cool), crates, planks, lifeboats and monkeys - are top quality and cleverly, deceptively weighted.

There are 4 sets of playing pieces so each player gets one of each, or 2 of each if there are only 2 players. Players also get a set of 10 cards numbered 1 through to 10 - these are colour coded, though as they are played in front of you the colours are more just for show.

Each player selects a card and these are all turned up simultaneously. The highest number played determines who plays first and this continues to the next highest etc until all players have had a turn.

On their turn the player gets to play one of their pieces onto the ship, putting it on the deck or sail arm which shows the number of the card they played. If there is already a piece on this number they can nudge it with the piece they are playing to position it (but they cannot use their fingers). They can also select to play 2 pieces if there is already a piece there prior to their turn.

When placing pieces you can steady the ship, use one or two hands, and select the piece from your supply - there are no restrictions that force your playing, except the number of the card you play. 

The ship rolls and rocks with the placing of each piece and it is likely you will dislodge pieces. If you can catch these they are removed from play, if they drop to the table you have to take them into your supply.

The winner of the game is the player who either uses all 8 pieces, on the ship or lost (caught), or has the least pieces in their supply when the game ends.

Exquisite pieces, clever design, lots of fun, good for youngsters, great for families and a brilliant drinking game - not that I would advocate such a thing. Definitely a game to have around when the grandkids come visiting. 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021