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[Review] Mississippi Queen

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sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008

I have been looking at the box for Mississippi Queen at the store for a while now, and even at 25% off I couldn' bring myself o buy it. Not because it didn't look good, but because I figured I'd never get a chance to play it.

Thanksfully, a friend of mine bought a copy at Bookmans (a used book store, he probably got an even better deal than 25% off) and I got a chance to play it twice tonight.

Here are the rules in a nushell:
Players captain steamboats on the Mississippi river, racing to be the first to the finish line with 2 passengers. Passengers are picked up on islands en route. Each ship has 2 stats, Speed and Coal, which range from 1 to 6. On your turn you may adjust your speed and then move that number of spaces. You may also change your facing before or while you move. The first facing change or speed change each turn is free, any additional costs 1 Coal. If you run out of Coal then you are out of the race.

The spaces are hexagonal, so there are 6 possible facings, and they are grouped into large tiles. As the race goes on, the board expands by placing a new tile in a random direction (straight ahead, ahead left, or ahead right).

Finally, you can bump other boats around at the cost of movement, and the turn order varies each round with the leading boat moving first- much like Formula De.

In fact, much of this game feels like Formula De, like a compact version of it. The game plays out pretty quickly by comparison, and there are only 2 stats- no damage. But having to stop for passengers (you must slow down to pick them up) and being able to increase and decrease your speed feels a lot loke FD.

In my opinion FD simply takes too long to play. I much prefer Mississippi Queen, which to me feels like all the good parts about FD and few if any of the bad.

On the down side, there isn't much to do or plan for in MQ. It's pretty much turn by turn- tactical if anything. No long term strategy. This is OK for a lighter game, but won't please the heavy strategy lovers who need multiple paths to victory. I also think it would be difficult to come back once you've fallen behind.

On the up side, there's not a whole lot of luck involved. The board sections come up at randmo, but you always use them all each game. The direction they go off in and the location of the passengers when they come up can be either fortuitous or possibly unlucky, but there are more than enough passengers so you almost never HAVE to pick one up if it's too inconvenient.

All in all this is probably the most fun racing game I've come across. It's no Puerto Rico, but I don't think it intends to be. No racing game can really be all that strategic, by the shear nature of the race. If you're looking for a decent race game, I haven't played them all but I think I can recommend this one.

- Seth

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