Cinque Terre is a coastal region of the Italian Riviera, known for its five beautiful and culturally diverse villages; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. Paths connect the villages to each other, cars can’t reach the area because of its proximity to the coast and steeply developed terraces, so carts are often used to transport goods back and forth. Here in lies the core of Cinque Terre as a game, pick-up and deliver.
Players take on the role of farmers and operate food carts in which they harvest produce and deliver them to villages. Players compete with one another to sell the most valuable produce to the five villages, amassing Lire (Italian currency) along the way. Not only do players harvest and deliver goods, they also take on orders to be fulfilled and traded in for more Lire. The winner is determined by the farmer who has earned the most Lire, gained popularity within the villages, and fulfilled orders.
Cinque Terre is a beautifully colorful game with quality components. Each player has a wooden food cart, a fulfillment card to monitor where they are selling their produce, and order cards that act as mini goals to motivate the player to harvest and sell certain goods and gain Lire. The gameplay itself is elegant in its simplicity and complexity (that statement makes sense, I promise). During each player’s turn you can perform 3 of the following 4 actions in any order (players may also perform the same action more than once per turn); Move up to 4 spaces clockwise to harvest or sell goods in and around the coastal line, Draw a produce card (which are used to add product to your cart), Harvest produce (exchanging cards for up to 4 produce to be delivered on your cart), and lastly sell produce at a village market. There are 8 types of produce; Olive, Funghi, Agli, Uva, Zucchine, Limoni, Arance, and Pomodori. Each produce type matches the color of produce pieces and colored 6-sided dice.
One of the more interesting and redeeming quality of Cinque Terre is it’s replay ability. The game’s economy is randomized at the beginning of every game. Some produce will be more profitable at certain villages, and less profitable in others. The color coordinated dice are rolled at the beginning of the game to determine which cities will pay what amount for which good. The dice are then left next to the city for the remainder of the game. These dice show which produce are more desirable and most profitable in that particular village (all villages buy all produce, but certain types fetch a higher price). When a player sells something to a village they keep track of it on their fulfillment card. Once a player has sold produce to a village 8 times they become the Most Popular Vendor (MPV) for that city which equates to more points at the end of the game. The end game is triggered when a player has combined to complete a mix of 5 produce orders and/or MPVs (an average game takes 50–60 minutes). The player with the most Lire wins.
Cinque Terre is a wonderful game. The gameplay feels light but can be deceptively strategic —much like Ticket to Ride. Some of the gameplay is closely related in that you gather cards of certain colors, trading them in for placement on the board, and using cards to guide your strategy and playing style. As a gateway game (opening doors for new gamers to play more intense games beyond Monopoly and Yahtzee) Ticket to Ride has been tremendously successful. Cinque Terre is easily in the same league, but brings more to the table. It’s yet to really dawn on me as to how this game can be expanded in the way Ticket to Ride does, but I’m sure if there’s a will there’s a way. Cinque Terre brings a fun and colorful theme to the pick-up and deliver mechanic and manages to maintain your interest with other game goals and ways to win. If you’re a fan of Ticket to Ride you will love this game. If you’re getting bored with all the trains and gimmicky map expansions, adding the economy element to this style of play is a great way to energize the table. Finally, if you’re looking for the next step beyond some of the more popular gateway games, Cinque Terre will do the trick.