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City Land River game

25. July 2020 - Alexander Schmidt

City Country River Game – 3 Best Variants of the Knowledge Competition




River with X? City with Y?? Occupation with Q??? Almost everyone has broken a sweat while playing City Country River. At the same time, the game is an absolute classic, which is fun even at the felt 1000th time. We still felt like variety and have thought of 3 new variants. Learn more here!

Whether on the highway, in the big break or in your own living room: City Country River is one of those games that you can play anywhere and anytime. Or at least almost, because pens and enough paper you need after all.

At the same time, the game is so universal that it’s fun for both kids (who can already write) and adults.

Although I can hardly imagine that anyone among you dear readers does not know the game, I summarize here again very briefly how it works 😉

City Country River – The Basic Rules

  • Game material: 1 pad of DIN-A4 paper, pens (1 per player).

How it works

Everyone receives a sheet of paper. All players agree on categories together. In addition to the name-giving city, country, river are popular, for example, profession, first name, animal, and plant, but there are no limits to your imagination.
Only should be clear to all what is meant.

One takes the sheet crosswise and writes above in the first line as column headings all categories + a narrow column at the end for the points.

Now one of the players starts to recite the alphabet, saying only A aloud and the rest quietly in his head, the next player says “stop” at some point and the first one says the letter he is at now, e.g. P.

Now each player tries as fast as they can to find a matching term with P (or the letter) for all the agreed categories. So for example:

City Country River Profession Name Animal
Beijing Portugal Peene Postman Paul Penguin

The first person to finish shouts “Stop” loudly and everyone has to put down the pencil. The points are scored.

The categories are gone through one after the other. 10 points are awarded for each correct term. However, if two people have the same term, they only get 5 points each in this round. If you are the only one who has something in this category, you get 20 points for it.

Optionally, you can add the rule that whoever shouts “Stop” and has a wrong term among theirs, will be penalized for it with 10 points minus each.


Best 3 Country River Variants

Now let’s move on to the variants of the game we invented! 🙂

City Country River Variant 1: To Each Little Animal Its Little Place

Only recently I had the following experience while playing City Country River: a fellow player suggested the category movies, but soon regretted it, because she almost never thought of anything for this of all things. She took it with humor, though.

However, it can happen in City Country River that one or the other player feels disadvantaged, e.g. because he does not have such a good knowledge of geography or because he does not like a category at all.

A remedy and at the same time a guarantor for great variety is to determine the categories simply before each run anew. Only the number of categories remains fixed, e.g. five. In turn, each player may determine 5 freely selectable categories, and for the sake of fairness, everyone should have the same number of turns. (Also, another player should say the alphabet in his head).

City Land River with changing categories

City Land River with changing categories

In this variant it is quite allowed to choose the categories to your own advantage. But it is important that everyone could theoretically write something about it and that it is clear what is meant. Therefore the other players have a veto right if they agree to reject a category.

My spontaneous first choice of 5 categories would be: writers, directors, music bands, gods, sweets… 😉

City Country River Variant 2: Chaos in the Alphabet

Back to the beginning: in this variant the categories remain the same, but as additional game material you need a standard dice.

The first player rolls it and the number of dice indicates the letter, so 1 = A, 2 = B, …, 6 = E. However, the letter is never pronounced aloud in this variant! Whoever blabs receives 20 points minus.

All write now eagerly, until any player throws the dice again. As soon as he does this, a new letter is given, namely the one that has as many digits as the number on the dice, further on in the alphabet (after Z it starts all over again).


  1. 3 => C
  2. 5 => H
  3. 2 => J
  4. 6 => P
  5. 6 => V
  6. 5 => A

Important: Players may roll the dice again whenever they like – it is not necessary to have filled in all the squares for the previous letter!

The scoring is also done at the very end. For example, you can play until a letter that was already on the turn is reached for the second time.

The challenge is with this variant also to make yes no mistake when counting, because for wrong letters there are of course no points.

City Country River Variant 3: Secrets of a Word

City Land River Variant: Secrets of a Word

City Land River Variant: Secrets of a Word

This variant differs the most from the original City Country River game, but at the same time it offers the greatest creative freedom: neither the categories nor their number are the same from round to round. Yes, the categories are not even clearly specified!

How is that supposed to work? you may ask….

First of all you need as additional game material any text, so a book, a magazine etc In case of doubt you just open a website on your smartphone. Instead of reciting the alphabet in your head, one player reads the text silently and when the next player says stop, he says aloud the word he just read.

Now all teammates write down a term for each letter of the word that begins with it and is associatively related to the word.

Example: the word is “perplexed”

One player writes the words: advice, information, expensive, solution, disoriented, search.

The other players must all agree whether a word is valid or not. For example, in the example above, a discussion might occur when the word “expensive” is used. The player may have thought of the proverb “Good advice is expensive”, but a fellow player does not know it. Now he can either be convinced, or gives a veto and the word does not count then.

Otherwise, the same rules apply to the evaluation as in the usual City Country River game. For example, if several players have chosen the word “council”, which is obvious here, they only get 5 points for it, etc.

Have fun trying out these City Country River variants! Maybe they even inspire you to your own new ways of playing? 😉

By the way, here at Abenteuer Freundschaft you’ll find many more game tips on both established classics and new releases. Plus, there are plenty more ideas for activities with friends, as a couple, or with the whole family!

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*Transparency is important to us: This article contains so-called recommendation links. If you order a product through one of these links, you support us, because we get a small commission. The price will not change for you.


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