Updated: Apr 12
Designed by Jack Caesar and Alessio Cavatore, with attractive art by Chris Caesar, and published by River Horse, Noli seeks to replicate the political tussles of neighbouring districts (or Rioni) of the northwest Italian town of Noli. A player wins by building their tower six high or by having the highest tower and the maximum level of influence.
Each turn consists of the same four stages, and turns continue until a winning condition is met. The first two stages are a blind bidding auction and resolution for influence, oarsmen, fishing boats and tower building. Ties are decided by who has most political influence and the winning bidder can double up their bid to take a double action. The third stage is a real-time dice rolling race known as the Regata dei Rioni. Players with more oarsmen have it easier but it’s always an excitedly manic part of the game. Winners of the Regata are rewarded with better fishing rights in stage four, which leads to more money for bidding, or a variety of 'take that' actions against rival players. Players with more fishing boats reap more rewards here.
Noli is a game which is quick to set up, teach and play so it’s great for less core gamers and family gaming. The random element of the Regata and unpredictability of the bidding ensures that anyone can win and there’s no one set strategy. It’s a game that won’t offend, and it'll cause laughter and exasperation in equal measure as you curse your luck. If you play with just two players, it's easier to keep tabs on your opponent so there's scope for more strategic play, whereas with four players, the game is bound to be longer, more raucous and unpredictable - but no less enjoyable for that.
(Review by Paul Moorshead)