Hey there guys!
For my first couple of posts on this blog, I’ll be putting up reviews of some of the new games in my collection. With Essen Spiel 2015 in the books, my collection has again grown considerably (as have those of my gaming buddies). I expect to post on here on a daily basis, so there will be lots of content for you to enjoy. If you have tips or comments, please feel free to leave them. As this is officially my very first review not in Dutch, I’ll probably have some area’s to improve on. I’ll tell you guys a bit more about myself in a different post at some point, but for now let’s get on with the show!
- Designer: Ben Pinchback & Matt Riddle
- Artist: John Ariosa
- Publisher: Eagle Gryphon Games
- Player count: 2-5
- Play time: 30-45 minutes
- Mechanics: Betting, Dice rolling, Worker placement
Ama is tired. It has been a long day of chasing her grandchildren, and she needs a break. Ama has been around for a long time and she has a few tricks up her sleeve. With the promise of her famous fruit salad, Ama sends her grandchildren down to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market to collect fruit… and to get out of her hair! Collecting different fruit is no easy task, as the fruit boats –full of Mango, Banana, Papaya, Guava, Grapefruit, Rambutan, and the famous Starfruit – are constantly shifting around the Khlong Damnoen Saduak Canal of Thailand.
Players are eager grandchildren, competing to be the first to collect five different types of Fruit for Ama… AND get the first bowl of Fruit Salad!
Each round of Floating Market is divided into three phases: Assign Customers, collect fruit and round end. During the first phase of the game, each player has 3 customers to place on the various available spaces. There are 7 boats, each carrying a different kind of fruit, where the players can place their Customers. Further, there are several buildings with varying effects. These add some manipulation of the dice pool and the places/order where the customers can be placed. There’s also a fruit market, where you can exchange 4 coin cards for a piece of fruit of your choice. When a player places their first cusotmer each round, they also add a die of their personal set to the dice pool for the round. Each player has access to A D12, D10, D6, D4 and a negative D6. All positive dice match the player’s color and the negative die is white. This makes it a lot easier to work out the totals in the next phase.
In the collect fruit phase, the start player for that round takes all dice in the pool and rolls them. Taking into account any modifiers the score is totalled up and the boat on the spot with the correct total is activated. Any player on this boat collects the piece of fruit that boat produces. Players in adjacent boats receive w money cards and players with a customer on the right dockside collects a single money card. Easy as Fruitcake!
In the round end a couple of things happen. The dice the players submitted for the round are placed next to the board and are unusable until a player uses an action to retrieve them. All extra dice are returned to their spots on the board as well as any modifier tokens. He then has the option of switching some boats around for the next round. Play continues until one of the players collects their fifth piece of fruit and is declared the winner.
I own several products from Eagle Gryphon games, so it feels like I’m getting used to the high component quality that their games tend to have. This game is no exception. The tiles are nice and thick, the cards have a very sturdy linnen finish and the customer meeples are vibrant in color and unique in shape. The dice used are of great quality as well and they add a lot of visual appeal to the game. One thing that always stands out to me is the inlay Eagle gryphon uses. As can be seen in the picture, they have nice big compartments, cut outs in the box bottom and a plastic lid that lies on top of the insert. To me, that’s the little things that make all the difference. John Ariosa has produced stunning artwork for this game. From the box cover to the board itself, it looks amazing and helps bring the theme to life. One little nitpick from my side: I would have gone with actual coins instead of coin cards.
Floating markets is a them that has been used in the past (Bangkok klongs and Manila for example) but somehow it feels pretty nicely integrated into the gameplay. The game is very accesable for a large variety of gamers. The rules are very simple and the playtime is at just the right spot for a betting and ‘racing’ game.
Now let’s talk a bit about the dice. Do they add a luck factor to the game: yes, in a way. However, the ability to adjust the dice pool to your benefit and some simple math skills to work out the odds does come a long way to mitigating that luck. Personally, I don’t mind the luck element all that much. The box tells us the game can be played with two to five players. I feel the game shines at the higher player counts. There are some mechanical adjustments for the lesser player counts, which do help in keeping the game enjoyable, but this ‘fix’ feels like a necessary evil.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Floating market. I bought it on a whim at Essen, because I thought it would only be available for demo and with the low production run ( I believe 2000 copies in total) it somehow piqued my interest. The thing I was most surprised after actually playing, was the amount of gamesmanship the game provided. All players try to manipulate the dice pool in their favor and when it came down to rolling it often felt very tense.
Floating market is a really well produced and enjoyable game. If you like dice games with some strategic elements, this is definitely one to check out.
Verdict: 7.5 / 10