Far to the north, in a remote winter land, rivers are frozen most of the year. When the villages along the riverside eventually are accessible, a small river cruise company offers exotic tours like polar bear safaris, reindeer trips, ice fishing, and more. Lucky tourists may even get a chance to see the northern lights.
You work as a tour guide trying to attract tourists to your guide boats for spectacular excursions.
Riverside is a different kind of roll-and-write game: The game comes with a modular game board, which composes the route for the game. On a river cruise boat, everyone follows the same route, but you can take your tourists on different tours. You may plan ahead, but beware, the dice may force you to change your plans.
You start each round by rolling dice into a common pool. Simultaneously, each player chooses one die of one specific color (without physically taking it) and fills seats on the matching guiding boat on their own player sheet. Whenever they have completed a row of seats, they have sold a group ticket of the corresponding color (excursion). The longer the row, the more points they get. Additionally, this ticket is valid for the remainder of the game: Every time they go on an excursion in a village of this color, they take this group with them to earn even more points. The player with the most points wins the game.
Each dice color represents tourists with a preference for one specific type of excursion. The transparent green die is “wild” and represents the northern lights, something everyone wants to see.
Riverside offers tough decision-making within a short playing time: Some rows are short with low points and bonuses, while other rows are long with higher points and bonuses. Which one do you start to fill? Within each guide boat, you need to score higher and higher, so taking too many tourists on your first excursions could be fateful. Players are rewarded if they manage to please all five kinds of tourists, so maybe you need to score a new color instead of scoring really high in another color? Higher dice represent tourists who are freezing and cost fire symbols to get. Note that the “wild” green die always costs fire symbols to get! You have a limited number of fire symbols to use, so when will be the right time to use them?