TARGUI - Reviewed by Mike

Category/Format: Conflict/Boardgame

Extremely high production values are the outstanding features of this desert-based conflict game from Jumbo for 2-4 players, which plays in about 2-3 hours.

Components consists of :

Large plastic-coated board which is divided into 49 recesses to hold the :-

49 Territory Cards, about 2 inches square, each depicting a type of terrain(there are 8 different types each having its own attributes) and its economic and/or strategic value, if any. These cards have a hole in the corner into which ownership markers can be placed.

Territorial markers in the 4 colours, used to denote ownership of a territory.

4 Settlement Cards, one in each colour to denote each tribe.

20 Tribe cards, 5 in each of the 4 colours

16 (Mis)fortune cards

2 six-sided dice

Camel markers, in light and dark shades of brown, where 1 dark brown camel = 5 camels. The camels are used to denote attacking or defending strength.

Pieces of silver and gold, where 1 gold = 5 silver, used for all financial transactions in the game.

SET UP One of the elegant features of this game is that the board is different every time you play it, which keeps the replay value high. This is achieved by first of all removing the single Central Salt Mine territory card, of which there is only 1, and placing this in the centre of the game board. After shuffling the remaining 48 territory cards face down on the table they are then placed face up on the board in a sequence stated in the rulebook.

Players then receive the Settlement Territory card of their chosen colour and use it to replace one of the territory cards in one of the specified 8 spaces in each corner of the board. This establishes their base camp which must remain in their control to receive the levy (see later).

They then each receive the 5 tribal cards of their colour, the matching territorial markers, 10 camels, 5 silver and 1 gold piece.

Each player then places his 10 camels on his Settlement Territory card. The (mis)fortune cards are shuffled and placed next to the board and play is ready to commence.

PLAY The object of the game is to eliminate the other players off the board and to take possession of the entire territory. This is achieved by purchasing camels and moving them in sufficient numbers to attack neighbouring territories with a view to taking them over. The choice of territory to attack must be made with some care as certain terrain types have a strategic value which is used as part of its defence calculation so the attacker had better be prepared for some losses during a battle. The player must also be wary of leaving his own defences unguarded and therefore coming under attack himself.

The play takes part in a series of Rounds, within which there are a variable numbers of turns, decided by a throw of one dice. Each player hands in the same number of tribe cards as indicated on the dice, except when a 6 is thrown, which is a special case described later. 1 of the 16 (mis)fortune cards is added to this pile of cards which is then shuffled and turns are taken in the order in which the cards are turned over. This neat mechanism means that all players will have the same number of turns in the round but in a random order. This provides a variable flavour to the game and keeps it interesting.

If a 6 was thrown on the dice each player places only 1 tribal card into the pile and a (mis)fortune card is added, but this time when the tribal card is turned over that player gets a double move, which can be devastating in certain situations.

(Mis)fortune Cards. These have lovely little graphics to indicate their meaning but there is a more than adequate description of each in the rule book. When one of these is turned over it is acted upon immediately. They can bring good luck, such as extra camels in your Settlement territory or more money, or they can be disasterous such as lose half your camels or lose all your money.

THE TURN. Each turn consists of 2 actions a) moving camels (or attacking). b) adding camels. Neither is compulsory but if both are taken they must be done in that order. Movement is to an adjacent territory(horizontally, vertically or diagonally) and if undefended the player places 1 of his territory markers in it to indicate ownership. However if there is another tribe in the territory an attack will take place and that is resolved as follows :

The attacker goes first and a formula is applied to determine how many defending camels are destroyed. He throws one die, adds the strategic value of the territory from which he is attaking and divides the result by 2(for uneven number subtract 1 first, then divide). Then the defender repeats the process and the attacker loses some camels. Attacks continue until one party is eliminated or the attacker gives up after the defender has had his go. After a successful attack the territory marker is changed to reflect the new ownership.

If he wishes the player can now add camels to one territory only, at a cost of 1 silver per camel.

THE LEVY. At the end of a round each player receives the levy due to him from the territories he now owns. This is the sum of the economic value of those territories but remember he only receives this if he still has control of his own Settlement territory, so you must keep that well-defended.

GAME END The game ends when only one player remains on the board and he is obviously the winner. The rules provide for shorter versions of the game by removing certain specific (mis)fortune cards and playing an agreed number of rounds, in which case the player whose tribe generates the highest levy in the last round is declared the winner.

It's difficult to explain in words how much variation there is in this game, you really have to experience it for yourself. Due to the random turn order the power base on the board changes frequently and the effects of the (mis)fortune card has upset many a winning strategy. I think that this is one of the best conflict games for 4 players or less and it's one that I'm always pleased to see selected on games nights.

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