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2-6 players, 40 minutes

designed by

reviewed by

Nizza is Wolfgang Kramer's entry in Schmidt Spiele's series of games by top selling designers. The basic premise of Nizza (Nice) is that each player is a thief, attempting to steal the crown jewels. The game was presumably inspired by films such as `The Pink Panther' and `It Takes a Thief' but is actually a race game, involving lots of swinging, climbing, pushing other people into the water and lugging suitcases around.

The board depicts an almost fish-eye view of the buildings of Nice, overlooking the harbour. Plastic `chimney pots' are pushed into the board, from which they stick up, conveniently allowing thieves to sling their chains around them (of which more later). Thieves start from the roof of the left-most building. Their first objective is to obtain a suitcase containing a set of burglary tools. This may be found on the roof of another building, which may be reached by clambering, swinging and walking. Once the tools have been obtained they must be dragged along to another roof, on which may be found a safe. This safe contains the crown jewels!

Once the safe has been cracked, and the jewels obtained, the thief makes his, or her, way to a boat, clambers aboard, and climbs a rope ladder to a waiting helicopter. Then it's off to freedom and glory, while waving in a suitable fashion to those fellow thieves left behind.

All of this is achieved by use of dice, which are rolled, poker-dice fashion, three times. Those selected are set aside, with the remainder re-rolled. Once the three rolls have been made, the thief carries out the turn's movement. Each die is used one at a time, then passed to the next player. Once all five dice have been handed over the next player may roll for their turn.

Each die is identical, and has six sides. Each side shows a different icon. These sometimes have several uses, but the main ones are:

This part of the game works well. The player makes some sort of a plan, rolls the dice to try and obtain the right combination, then undertakes the turn. This must be done without first testing the plan for feasibility. It is quite possible therefore to use the first die to relocate a chain to the next chimney pot, the second to climb a ladder towards the chain, planning to swing across to the safe, only to find that you can't reach the chain. Expect many sympathetic comments from your rivals at this point (that's if you call ``ha! ha!'', or ``I knew it wouldn't reach'', sympathetic).

This has rather a feel of miniatures gaming to me. Movement takes place by actually placing a cardboard ladder at the feet of the pawn, and moving along it to the end. Equally, the chain swinging is undertaken by slinging the chain around a chimney pot, slipping the other end over the pawn, and wheee! You get the idea.

While Nizza is not a bad game, there is a fair degree of luck, and frustration. I spent virtually all of one game repeatedly pulling myself out of the water, climbing ladders and swinging on chains to the safe containing the burglary tools, only to be pushed back in again $\ldots\ldots$splash! My pawn then went on to star in a Hollywood blockbuster called Groundhog Days.

The mechanics are pretty good, movement works well, and it is quite a laugh. However, I am unconvinced by the theme. Quite why all the burglars keep their tools in the same safe at the top of a building is beyond me; as is the concept of us all stealing a set of crown jewels from a second safe, only to leave other sets behind for our rivals. Once the tools have been gained, at least one suitcase must be rolled each turn in order to move. Occasionally players have been stuck for turns, unable to lug their suitcase over the rooftops $\ldots\ldots$rather more reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau than the cat burglar.

However, having said this my son loves it. I played Nizza with a group of five to eight year olds and it went down a storm. They had no trouble understanding the basic concepts, and enjoyed rolling the dice. The only drawback of their age was the desire above all else to push the others off the tallest buildings they could find $\ldots\ldots$to hell with the jewels!

So, in essence an enjoyable game. Fun for adults, great for kids (playing with an adult). On balance though one with limited replay value for adults I would think.

Dave Farquhar

next up previous
Next: APBA PRO BASKETBALL 2 Up: Sumo 20 index Previous: BLUFF/LIARS DICE
Stuart Dagger