Nile DeLuxor Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 2 to 6 players
  • About 30 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management
  • Area Control

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • The Nile, life-giving river of Egypt, rises and falls with the seasons – fortune favors those who have the wit to anticipate the river’s ever-changing moods

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Note: this is a reprint and expansion for the original game, Nile.

In Nile DeLuxor, players take on the role of farmers whose prosperity and fate are tightly intertwined with the great river, the Nile. But the river is uncontrollable and wild as it never stops flooding and retreating from the land. A wise player will learn to speculate and anticipate the changes to come. By doing so, they can make important choices that will offer great rewards. Failure to guess correctly will bring ruin.

Nile DeLuxor is a card game comprised of seven different Crops (Papyrus, Wheat, Lettuce, Castor, Flax, Grape, and Onion), Speculation cards (a mix of two different crops), a Plague of Locusts (a negative outcome card), Season cards (used for deck shuffling tracking), and a Flood card (used to identify the Flood card pile).

Included in this game is the expansion, Monuments, that can be added to the base game for an additional challenge. The expansion adds Stone cards (used in the same way as the Crop cards) and 3 Monument cards (Obelisk, Sphinx, and Wall), that grant players special abilities.

All the cards are very colorful and have excellent artwork. Throughout the game, the art direction calls to mind the Egyptian illustrations found on the walls of ancient temples and tombs.

Example of cards used in the game – shown are Crop, Flood, and Plague of Locusts cards

Game Set Up

The number of Crops cards used in the game is dependent on the number of players. For a 2 to 4-player game, all the cards of 2 Crops are removed. For a 5-player game, all the cards of 1 Crop are removed. No Crop cards are removed for a 6-player game. If you are playing with the Monument expansion, be certain to include the Stone cards. If not, remove the Stone and Monument cards from the game.

Important: When you remove the Crop cards, be certain to also remove the appropriate Speculation cards, too.  Any Speculation card that lists a removed Crop should also be removed from the game.

Remove the Flood and Plague of Locusts cards and set aside. If you are playing with the Monument expansion, set the three Monument cards aside, too. Shuffle the deck thoroughly.

Place the Flood and Monument (if playing the expansion) cards in the center of the play area. Deal each player 5 cards, face-d0wn. Randomly place the Plague of Locusts card back in the deck and place the deck in the center playing area, face-down, to create the draw pile.

Select a starting player and begin!

The Life of an Egyptian Farmer

On a player’s turn, they will complete 5 steps in sequential order.

Note: If Plague of Locusts is ever revealed, determine which player has the most cards in any field (including Monuments) and discard all those cards alone with the Plague of Locusts. If revealed during the Flood, draw another card for the Flood after resolving the Plague of Locusts. If revealed during a card draw, resolve the card and continue to draw (it does not count as a draw card). If there is ever a tie when determining which player has the most cards planted, all cards from the tied fields or Monuments are discarded.

Step 1: Flood

  • The top card of the draw pile is revealed and replaces the previous Flood card or any card that is currently there. This indicates two important things. First, it determines what cards cannot be played this turn by the player. Second, it determines what Crop cards can be harvested this turn by all players. In other words, you cannot plant the same crop you are harvesting, and vice versa. If a Speculation card is revealed, the crops identified on the card are used.
  • If any player has played a Speculation card, and it matches at least one Crop card type that is revealed for the flood, the game pauses and the players who speculated correctly take the top three cards from the draw pile immediately into their hand for every Speculation card that matches (a maximum of 2 Speculation cards for a total of 6 cards drawn). All Speculation cards, successful or not, are then discarded from the game temporarily.

Step 2: Harvest

  • Only Crop cards that match the Flood card can be collected at this time.
  • All players harvest their planted Crop cards if it matches the Flood card, regardless if it is their turn or not.
  • Harvest a crop by removing the top planted Crop card of the type noted by the Flood card and place face-down in the player’s individual Crop storage pile.
  • If the Flood card was a Speculation card, all identified crops can be harvested by taking the top planted Crop cards of the types noted.
  • If playing the Monument expansion, all Monument cards with 1 or more Stone cards attached must now remove and discard one Stone card.

Step 3: Trade

  • The active player can trade as many times as they like, or not at all. Players cannot trade with each other or trade using planted Crop cards or Stone cards on Monuments.
  • The active player may go to the Market and discard any two cards from their hand or their Crop storage pile to draw one new card from the draw pile and add it to their hand.
  • The active player may pray to Hapi and discard any two cards from their hand or their Crop storage pile to reveal a new Flood card. – Repeat step 2 if need be.

Step 4: Plant or Speculate

  • Only cards not matching the Flood can be planted or speculated on.
  • To plant, the active player plays cards from their hand, face-up, in front of them to create a field.
  • Players cannot plant a new field if that Crop has already been planted by another player – however, if they can play at least one more Crop card than what currently exists in their opponent’s field, they can place those cards in front of them and their opponent is forced to discard that field and all cards currently in it.
  • When planting:
    • Play at least 2 cards of the same crop type
    • Play exactly 2 Crop cards of different crop types – one of which can be planted on an existing field owned by the active player
    • Play any number of Crop cards to any field already in play in front of the player

Instead of planting, a player can speculate on what the river will do next and play one or two Speculation cards. The Speculation cards played cannot match the Flood card currently in play.

Players can also play Stone cards in front of them and claim a Monument of their choice. To do so, they must play at least one Stone card and have a total number of Stone cards higher than any other player who has previously claimed that Monument card. If they do, the Monument is placed in front of them and the previously attached Stone cards are discarded. Players can only build on 1 Monument per turn.

Step 5: Draw

The player ends their turn by drawing 2 cards from the draw deck. Play continues with the next player starting with step 1.

Ending the Game and Scoring

The game continues until the discard pile has been reshuffled and a number of times equal to the number of players in the game. For example, a 2 player game will go through the deck twice. A three player game would go through the deck three times, and so on. Use the Seasons cards to help keep track of how many times the deck has been reshuffled.

Once the deck has been played through enough times to end the game, all players take their cards in their Crop storage pile and separate the cards into piles by Crop card type. These individual piles are then lined up in a row, starting from the right and going left with the largest Crop pile, followed by the next largest, and so on. When completed, the piles should be organized from smallest to the largest going from left to right.

The player who has the most cards in the left most pile wins the game. Confused? Take a look at the following image. After separating the Crops into piles and placing them in order, we see the players have four columns in total. No one player has 5 Crop card piles so we start with only 4. Player 1 only has three Crop piles and is immediately out of the running. Player 2 and Player 3 have Crop cards in column 1, but  Player 3 has more crops than Player 2. Victory goes to Player 3!

Given this example, Player 3 would win the game

The Monuments

If playing the Monument expansion, individuals who have control of one or all three of the Monument cards can use the card’s special abilities.

  • Sphinx: harvest the top 2 Crop cards from a field in stead of just 1.
  • Obelisk: Draw 3 cards at the end of their turn instead 2 and earns 4 cards instead of three for a successful Speculation.
  • Wall: Protects the player from being out-planted by making it necessary to have at least 2 or more cards in total instead of just 1 or more.

Prediction

My oldest little geek (7-years-old) has played and loved other games similar to Nile DeLuxor. For example, Bohnanza and Farmageddon. Similar in the sense that the players manage groups of cards in an attempt to bring them back for points. However, this is where any similarity ends, other than the fact that all the games deal with an agricultural theme. Nile DeLuxor is meatier and has more depth to it, which means, more difficulty. I have no doubt my oldest will be able to handle it, but my 4-year-old has recently shown little interest in playing games, preferring to read books and play LEGOs. For my oldest, this is great news because he now gets Daddy and the games all to himself.

My only real concern about the game is its theme and my little geek getting burned out. My kids get subjected to (or as I like to call it, “test drive”) a lot of games. Sometimes we sit down and play a game the same day, sometimes it takes several. It all depends on the family schedule and my little geeks. Since my 4-year-old has left the family gaming table to pursue other activities, I am watching my oldest little geek a little closer to ensure he doesn’t’ lose interest, too. Since this will be his third card game with an agricultural theme, it doubtlessly seems less interesting. My hope here is that Nile DeLuxor will prove to be a new challenge and will therefore spark his interest.

It didn’t take long for me to explain the game to my oldest little geek. The game itself is broken down into very simple steps and what you can and cannot do is very clear. The only rule that threw him at first was the initial play of the Flood. I had to remind him several times that you “cannot plant what you are harvesting”. This eventually stuck and was the last small logic hurdle he had to jump. After that, he seemed to understand the game very well and even corrected me when I incorrectly demonstrated how to plant cards.

Taking that as a hint that I was now laboring the game explanation and rules, I started to shuffle the deck and get the game ready. While doing so, I ask my oldest little geek his thoughts on the game.

“I already know how to play farming games but this one looks a little different. I like the artwork and think I will enjoy it.” ~ Liam (age 7)

Not a lot of enthusiasm here. Still, he is sitting at the table because he wants to, he has taken the time to learn the game, and is leaning forward in a state of anticipation as he eagerly snatches up his cards. Nile DeLuxor might seem similar, but I bet my little geek is in for a surprise.

Final Word

My 7-year-old learned two very important lessons while playing the game. First, playing lots of games makes playing new games easier as you have prior experience with game rules and mechanics. Second, he’s still got a lot to learn.

My oldest little geek understood the game and played really rather well; however, his father played better. I do not let my kids win games but I do help them if they appear to be lost or confused. My little geek was never lost, never looked confused, but he did look frustrated. He decided he wanted to keep his cards in anticipation of planting them when the Flood was right. I, however, took the other approach and started planting right away. In no time, I had majority control of the fields and was harvesting potential points before my son had his first field planted.

We paused the game several times so we could discuss his current strategy. In his mind, and as he understood the rules, the object of the game was to collect as many Crop cards as possible. This was a true statement and is supported by the rules. However, he failed to utilize the area control mechanism in the game by having an active field. When I told him that, his eyes got really big and he had a “Eureka!” moment. From that point on, he was playing a much better game.

After the game was over, I asked him how he liked it. He said that he did, but found it frustrating that he did not win. I reminded him that games were meant to be played and experienced. He might have lost this game, but he won other games today, too. It’s not about keeping score but about growing and becoming better, smarter, and stronger. He smiled when he heard me say this and asked me if he was becoming a good player.

Liam: “Dad, am I a good player?”

Me: “Liam, you are a very good player. Remember last night when Mom and I were crushed by your professional driving in Monza?”

Liam: “Oh, yeah! Mom really isn’t very good at that game.”

Good thing his Mom wasn’t around to hear that last part, but I quietly nodded my head in agreement.

My oldest little geek gives me a look of quiet disgust as his younger brothers crowd around to cheer and bother him

Gamer Geeks, this is pretty good card game that has a distinct Eurogame feel  and depth to it. Area control and hand management are a must, but so is the proper use of Speculation cards as they can provide the player a much needed advantage. The game plays fast, intelligently designed, and streamlined. In fact, you’ll easily see that Nile DeLuxor could have been a board game, but plays surprisingly well as a card game. That being said, the game itself is rather linear in its strategy. There is really only one road to victory, but this in itself is wonderfully challenging. Expect some rather nasty player interaction as everyone shifts for a better scoring position. I would also highly recommend playing with the Monument expansion.

Parent Geeks, this is a great game for you to introduce to the family and non-gamer friends, too! The rules are very simple but the game has depth. Not so deep that everyone will be gasping for air, however. I’d quickly recommend this game to anyone who is looking for a “gateway game” to introduce to family and friends without a lot of fuss. For the parents and non-gamers, I suggest not playing with the Monument expansion at first. This will allow the players to focus on the area control and planting of the Crop cards without the additional level of necessary strategy and tactics introduced with Stones and Monument cards.

Child Geeks, while the theme of the game is light and might not be all that interesting (no lasers or transforming super robots in ancient Egypt, kiddos), you will like how fast and easy the game plays. You’ll get to flex that mind of yours and strengthen your Geek Skills with a game that plays big but is easy to manage. Don’t let the Flood or other player’s confound and frustrated you. You can always play a bigger field and take control or simply wait until the Flood is right for you. Don’t forget to trade in those cards that you don’t need, but don’t be too hasty, either. Every card is possible points, but the winner is the player who knows best how to use them.

The more I played Nile DeLuxor, the more I liked it. It offers so much for so little that I can’t help but smile when I bring it to the table. As my family becomes busier and my time at the office more demanding, I eagerly seek out those games that can be set up and played in an hour or less and still provide me with a full feeling when I leave the table. Nile DeLuxor does this and does it well. I’ll introduce this game when and where I can when time is short but there is still a need from the crowd to play something with depth that delivers a feeling of accomplishment. Accessible, intelligent, fast, and fun, Nile DeLuxor is a hit with our family and friends!

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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5 Responses to Nile DeLuxor Game Review

  1. Frank says:

    I am very interested in this game. Would it work as a filler?

  2. CW says:

    I played a prototype of Nile Deluxor for the first time at Origins 2011 as a filler. I was provided a copy of the base game and brought it home to play with the family and my non-gamer wife humored me with playing a game as a family. She enjoyed it so much that she told me to get a copy of Nile Deluxor the first opportunity I had. I bought a copy from the Minion Games GenCon 2011 booth. We have made the game part of our standard list of games to play, especially when camping.

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