Games Set Along Rivers

Rivers have been an essential part of civilization since civilizations first began. By providing water for crops and a way to transport goods to other communities, rivers were, and still are, essential parts of our environment.

In simplest terms, a river is a large body of freshwater that flows downhill through gravity. However, from an agricultural and societal view, rivers have been the lifeblood of civilizations since people began settling and farming. Whether used to irrigate fields or transport goods to other villages, towns, and cities, rivers have helped to shape who we are as a race.

It’s no wonder there are so many good games that feature rivers. Here is a sampling of some of those games.

The River


Compete against your fellow pioneer settlements to develop the best town along a winding river.

Carcassonne: The River

Start your Carcassonne adventure by creating a river from which to build farms, castles and roads. (And, for those of you who, like me, can never have enough Carcassonne tiles, there’s also The River II.)



Trade with other players amongst the floating markets of the Chao Phraya River in Thailand.

The Great River of Catan

How does Catan have all of those lush fields without any irrigation? This Catan expansion adds a river! Place your settlements along the waterway to earn gold.

Root: The Riverfolk Expansion

The Riverfolk Company both uses and allows for the use of the river that cuts through the center of the board.



Sail steamboats down the Ulanga river, delivering goods and avoiding problems.

Small World: River World

An expansion for Small World that adds new maps with riverways teeming with pirates. Guard your harbors!

About the author

Tom Franklin

By day, I'm a mild-mannered IT Manager with a slight attitude. By night I play guitar & celtic bouzouki, board games, and watch British TV. I love abstracts, co-ops, worker placement and tile-laying games. Basically, any deep game with lots of interesting choices. 

You can find my middle grade book, The Pterrible Pteranodon, at your favorite online bookstore.

And despite being a DM, I have an inherent dislike of six-sided dice.

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