When it comes to board games, there are sometimes ideas that are just stupid – in a good way, mind you. For example, with “Whale Riders”, a board game to which Reiner Knizia contributed some mathematical tricks. The new title from Grail Games runs until July 28 as a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter, but has already been successfully funded. 

Boating, kayaking, crazy people gliding across the water on skis, or boarding your personal whale for a spectacular trip from coast to coast. The wacky idea comes from Reiner Knizia in collaboration with the artist Vincent Dutrait. The Australian publisher Grail Games has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the board game, motivating around 1.000 supporters to "bake" the project.

Whale Riders: Across the water with whales in 45 minutes

Whale Riders is not about a leisurely ride for whale tourists, but about a quick 45-minute ride on the backs of the sea giants. two to six players take part, each equipped with their own riding whale. In the end - again - it's all about the money. On their journey from coast to coast, players must buy and sell as many resources as possible. However, the ride should be as lucrative as possible in order to win.

Whale Riders relies on an easy-to-learn game mechanism in which decisions have to be made continuously in order to achieve the best possible results. That sounds suspiciously like one of those optimization games for which Reiner Knizia is known and famous. You will probably feel his handwriting clearly. The other creative mind behind the game is Vincent Dutrait: the French illustrator contributed the graphics to Whale Riders. It is not the first collaboration between Dutrait and Knizia, among other things, Lost Cities arose from the collaboration. Vincent Dutrait is also known from other top-class board games, such as TIME Stories or Jaipur. Both the author and the illustrator now show their individual influences at Whale Riders.

Whale Riders is about using the resources you buy to fulfill orders - and thus collect pearls and money. Image rights: Grail Games

Whale Riders is about using the resources you buy to fulfill orders - and thus collect pearls and money. Image rights: Grail Games

Players have to weigh up several decisions: move, buy, fulfill an order, discard an order or take a coin or draw a card? Each player is allowed to perform two actions, either two of the same or two different actions. Everything under the pressure of other players, of course. Each player starts with three coins and three orders, then it starts. The end of a game is determined by the way: As soon as the last pearl has been sold from the starting port, the game also ends.

Otherwise, Whale Riders is like a classic trading game. For coins, players can get resources at the coastal locations, which in turn can be exchanged for orders, which then grant coins and pearls. It is, however, a game for time, because storms are brewing and ensure that the coastal residents shut down their trading posts when the storm has reached them. The starting setup of resources is drawn at random - this results in individual structures for each batch. It is important to find a balance between fulfilling orders and purchasing the right resources, always taking into account the efficiency of the individual game actions.

The Kickstarter for the board game Whale Riders runs until July 28th. The campaign is already successful. Around 1.000 backers have invested over 30.000 euros so far. As always, there are also some bonuses for the backers, in the case of Whale Riders even a special one: fans have the chance to get the KS-exclusive card game version. The game should be delivered in April 2021.

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