Review: Istanbul

Posted by James (admin) on 28th May 2014

Istanbul game

At the bottom of the photo, you can see a player’s hand cart which has yet to be upgraded. When it is, the upgrade tile fills-up part of the missing piece.

Istanbul is one of the games nominated for Spiel des Jahres Kennerspiel 2014 (the German complex game of the year) and is designed by Rüdiger Dorn who has designed a wealth of games.  The game is a race to be the first to collect 5 gems with an interesting core game mechanic and a surprisingly dense amount of decision-making.

The board is made up of a 4×4 grid of locations (large tiles) and each player starts with a stack of wooden discs which are their merchant and assistants (with the merchant always on top).  Players take turns moving their merchant (and any assistants currently underneath it) so they can use the actions of the location tiles.  When a player moves to a location that does not contain one of their assistants, they remove an assistant from their stack, place it on the location, and then take the location’s action.  When a player moves to a location that does contain one of their assistants, they add it to the bottom of the stack, and then take the location’s action.  If a merchant moves on his own (without assistants) and lands on a location without assistants, then he can not take the location’s action.

So, players already need to work out which locations to visit, in what order, and how to do this by dropping off and picking up assistants along the way.  The actions at each location are varied allowing players to gain goods (which come in 4 colours), gain money, buy gems, upgrade their cart, gain special abilities, gain special cards, etc.  One location allows the player to gather up any assistants that are elsewhere on the board and place them under their merchant. Read the rest of this entry »

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