Niagara was produced in 2004 by Zooch Verlag (Rio Grande for English version) . It is a board game for 2 ot 5 players. Niagara has won many titles in its name, it was GAMES Magazine Family Game Nominee 2006, it won MENSA Best Mind Game 2005, it won Spiel Des Jahres Game of the Year 2005, and it was Deutscher SpielePreis 2nd place winner 2005.
Niagara currently has 2 expansions, Diamond Joe, a free expansion which adds a trader canoe to the game, and Spirits Of Niagara, which adds new cards, new canoes, new game elements, and makes the game into a 2-6 player game.
The quality of the game components are excellent. Wodden canoes, thick cardboard cards/chits, clear plastic disc, colored plastic (crystal like) gem stones, and a very think double layered game board, are the components you should expect when buying this game. The game component holding trey that comes with the game is perfect, better then most of the board games I have seen.
The game revolves around collecting these gems stone located along a river (game board). There are only 7 gemstone at each of the 5 gemstone reservoirs along the river. Players needs to collect 5 different colored gemstones, or 4 same colored gemstones or 7 of any combination of gemstones to win the game.
Players needs to collect these gemstones while limited to the number on the paddle cards/chits in their hands (1-6 + 1 weather card/chit). The river always flows towards the fall at the same rate as the slowest canoe (the smaller numbered paddle played) plus the weather (-1 to +2). Canoes that have fallen over the waterfall could be rescued at a payment of 1 gemstone. Players however has to play all the cards/chits in their hands before replenishing their cards/chits.
Another twist to the game is intrigue in the form of weather control and thievery. Players can manipulate the speed of the river by playing the weather card/chit. Players may add -1, 0, +1, or +2 to the river speed. Empty canoes coming up river may steal another canoes gemstone by ending their move exactly in the same spot at another canoe.
These game mechanics makes this game a thinking gamers game. Players needs to balance their goals with the flow of the river and the options they have using math and logic. Even at first glance I could see why this game won so many titles and awards.