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Mississippi Queen

This isn't a new game from Keep Exploring Games and Super Meeple, it's a republication of a modern classic that first appeared in 1997, when it was published by Goldsieber Spiele and Rio Grande and won the coveted Spiel des Jahres award. Designed by Werner Hodel, with art by Christophe Swal and Fabrice Weiss, Mississippi Queen pits players against each other as captains of Mississippi paddlewheel boats, racing to pick up passengers and be the first to finish.

The board is modular and the twists and turns of the river are only revealed during the course of the game. The other interesting mechanic is that each steamboat's two paddle wheels represent its speed and remaining coal supply. Players start the game with speed 1 and Coal at 6. On your turn you can increase or reduce speed by 1 and you can make a 60º (one side of a hex) change of direction for free but you have to burn a unit of coal to turn again on that turn or to increase or reduce speed by more than 1.

You can block opponents and, at a cost, you can push boats that are in your path; so the race has an exciting 'take that' element. And the components definitely have their charm. The paddlewheel boats are similar in this edition to those in the original but the new edition has given a noticeable upgrade to the Southern belle passengers. This new edition also incorporates everything that was in The Black Rose expansion, originally published in 1998. This extends the player count to 2–6 (it was 3–5 in the original core game) and offers the option of more advanced 'terrain' elements including sandbars, floating logs and coal refuelling stations. The Black Rose itself is a catchup mechanism: it's an additional paddleboat that's controlled by whichever player is in last place.

Tho' a custom six-sided die is used to determine where each new river tile is placed, this is a true strategy game: players are otherwise entirely in command of their own decisions. For experienced games players, this gives Mississippi Queen the edge over other more luck-dependent race games. Nevertheless, this remains a very accessible game that can be enjoyed by all the family.

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