Not a Matter of Love But Marriages Abound

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					        KRITIK
        Samarkand


     Not a Matter of Love
     But Marriages Abound
     When our honorable editor in chief assigns the review jobs, he proves his partic-                 But fortunately, there doesn’t have to be
     ular tactfulness time and again. This time, he makes a father-in-law-to-be write                  only one! Here we can indulge in
     about a game in which enterprising families get rid of marry off their daughters                  polygamy! O tempora, o mores!
     and sons so that the children-in-law enter into the family enterprise and see to                     “Taking out camels” means we take a
     its expansion. These are not really bonds of love.                                                camel from a family we are married to
                                                                                                       and place it on a space next to the


     T
              he players take on the roles of mar-   for a victim to marry. Nothing is happen-         domain. We can also place another camel
             riage brokers; everybody is driven      ing here without a marriage.                      on the next space; that costs money,
             by economic interests alone. They                                                         though – money that the family has to
     enter the game with a small amount of           I The location determines                         pay from the assets that they acquired
     pocket money only; and before they can            the price of the bride                          through the marriage. This way, caravan
     begin to play at all, plenty of work is wait-       The family we are going to marry into         routes are gradually developing
     ing for them. Camels – 120 of them –            has to pay a more or less high price for          through the desert. If they weren’t
     need to be set up, 50 relationship tiles        the marriage. The charge doesn’t depend           camels, one might think that we
     sorted and piled up, and 33 resource tiles      on the beauty of the people involved, but         were building railroad tracks …
     distributed on the gameboard. And in            on the place of residence: if somebody is            One of the goals that a
     addition, they have to put out the sons         located in the center of the gameboard,           caravan is aiming at is the
     and daughters of the merchant families.         he’ll charge more. As a wedding gift, we          amount of resources that
        Ten families inhabit an area that            get options on resources. We are offered          we’re holding in our
     reaches from Constantinople to Western          three; how many we keep is left to us.            hands as cards. This
     India. The respective domain is marked on       However, we have to accept at least one           makes sense since
     the gameboard, and the family assets are        in order not to be considered impolite.           that’s      what
     piled up at the edge of the playing area.           Let’s explain it in more detail. The          gives us the
     Initially, the assets consist of camels only,   options come in the form of cards, and            victory
     and you’ll search                                          they correlate to the resource tiles   points
     in vain for money.                                            that were distributed on the        mentioned above. Initially, we received
     Only a marriage                                                  gameboard in the begin-          two cards to take along – and, with this,
     can fill the family                                                ning. In case of a mar-        also guidance on our decision as to what
     fund. Each family                                                    riage, you draw three        family we should marry into: one whose
     has two children                                                     cards from the stack and     domain is located near these resource
     who can take on,                                                    then decide which one(s)      sites. We get further cards with every wed-
     at their discre-                                                    you’ll keep. It must be at                          ding. Chance alone
     tion and to                                     least one, but it may be all three. If, dur-                              determines which
     their                                           ing the game, you reach a resource on the                                  resources fall into
                                                     board for which you have the correspon-                                     our hands. How-
                                                     ding card in your hand, this will give you                                  ever, it is not
                                                     victory points for sure.                                                    advisable to keep
                                                         When you have married into a family,                                    all cards in your
                                        taste,       you may take out their camels from then                                        hand in the
                                      the male        on (is this what you dreamt of regard-                                        hope of mak-
                                    or female           ing marriage?). This gets us to                                             ing use of
                                 gender: The tiles        the second possibility of                                                 them some-
                               are printed on both          action that the instruc-                                                time      later,
                         sides, one side showing a            tions provide. Either                                                 because there
                    son and the other a daughter.                 you get married or                                                is a limit of
                      After having placed every-                    you      take     out                                           hand cards. If
           thing on the board, we can finally                           camels; but only                                            you reach this
        become active. The game instructions                                   camels from                                         limit, you may
      promise that we can choose between             a fam-                                                                        no longer take
     two possibilities of action. In fact, how-      ily         to                                                               cards at a wed-
     ever, this doesn’t apply to the first turn.     whom you are                                                               ding. And if you
     First of all, it’s time for everybody to look   bound by a family tie.                                                     may not take any


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new
cards, you may not discard any cards              (with which we
either – including older cards.                   could buy more brides). And second, each     length. As soon as each caravan
                                                  dinar – that’s the name of the currency in   has established one relationship, the
I Camel seeking for                               the game – is worth one victory point,       game ends immediately; alternatively, it is
  relationships                                   provided we don’t spend it.                  over when a family has linked up to five
  But finding resources is not the only              All members of the families                                others. If you play this
goal; we also like to establish relation-         involved benefit from this new                                game for the first time,
ships with other caravans. Not because            relationship. If an Arabian car-                              you’ll find that this can
we’d like to court their daughters or sons,       avan meets an Egyptian one,
but for reasons much more mundane:                all daughters and sons of the
                         first, it puts cash in   Egyptians and the Arabs bene-
                             our       pockets    fit, as well as the players who
                                                       are married to them. The
                                                        Arabs get a little more
                                                        because they brought
                                                        about the relationship in this
                                                        example. Since each family has
                                                         two children but each player
                                                         may marry into a family only                                  happen surpris-
                                                          once, this means we are not                                  ingly quickly. But
                                                          the only ones who profit from                                do you really
                                                          such actions, but we always                                  want to finish the
                                                                                                                                             spielbox




                                                           play into our rivals’ pockets as                            game that early?
                                                           well.                               This makes sense only if you think that
                                                              The relationships between the    you have more victory points than the
                                                            caravans also govern the playing   others. A portion of these points lays out


                                                                                                                                             27
                       face up, but a consid-
                       erable part doesn’t          been responsible for Chicago Express, a
                        arise as a result until     railroad game that can be played in only       one year to get this job done, then pre-
                        you score for the           one hour. Samarkand, originally, also was      senting a game for three to five players.
                         resource       cards.      a railroad game. This is even more obvi-       The two-player variant was contributed by
                         Such a card can            ous in the American original Age of            Wolfgang Panning (who isn’t named in
                          score up to eight         Scheme, even though the tracks had             the credits, though). “Suitable for fami-
                          points – or even          already been replaced by camels there as       lies” obviously means: there must be a bit
                           zero if you weren’t      well, and players didn’t invest in shares      of luck. It comes in the form of resource
                           attentive.               from railroad companies but in sons and        cards and fortunately has only moderate
                              Samarkand is          daughters of merchant families.                effects; chance is not all-powerful or cru-
                            from Harry Wu,                                                         cial for the game.
                            this time with a        I Successful revision                             If you know the style of Winsome
                             co-author at his         When Queen Games took over the               games, you’ll be surprised by how the revi-
                             side (David V. H.      game, changes were required to make it         sion was done here. The game doesn’t
                              Peters). Harry        “suitable for families” (see text box). The    have any charts or the like. Everything
                              Wu has already        Winsome Games team needed more than            you collect turns into victory points. The
                                                                                                   materials are comprehensive and well
                                                                                                   thought out, and the game has been con-
     Samarkand vs. Age of Scheme: Routes to Riches                                                 structed smartly. It was fun with any of
                                                                                                   the number of players indicated, and this
     “This is a gamer’s game without any auctions or random elements,” the instructions
     of the American original read. Right in the next paragraph, Winsome publisher John            explicitly applies also to two-player
     Bohrer writes that the game has been licensed to another company and that this                games that do without the crutch of an
     company has requested changes: among other things, they require random elements,              additional “ghost player.” The box indi-
     a shorter playing time and less calculation work.                                             cates a playing time of 45 minutes, but
                                                                                                   often you can finish faster. Also pleasant:
     The most conspicuous difference: the gameboard of Age of Scheme, covering the
                                                                                                   the fresh theme.                KMW/sbw
     same region, is divided into hexagons. They stand for six different kinds of terrain,
     each of them requiring different costs if a camel is placed there. Cities in three
     different sizes increase the income of a family when their caravan arrives. Instead,
     resources – the luck element in Samarkand – don’t exist. Each family (there are only
     six) has four children to get married and individual features that affect the costs for
     camels. Another important difference refers to the costs for a marriage. You decide
     on your own how much you’ll pay; there is only a minimum level. If you pay little,
     you’re ill-advised: in this case, the family will run dry of money quickly – money that
         they need for the caravans. On the other hand, you may not set the price too high
                             either, or, if you do, no other player will marry into this family.
                                                                                                      Title:         Samarkand
                                                 This means that the family won’t get a fresh
                                                                                                      Publisher:     Queen Games
                                                                    supply of money in their
                                                                                                      Designer:      David Peters, Harry Wu
                                                                        purse.
                                                                                                      Artist:        Jo Hartwig
                                                                     There are too many               Players:       2–5 (for two: ➙)
                                                                     differences between the          Age:           about 8 and up
                                                                    two games to list them all        Duration:      about 45 Minuten
                                                                   here. This would also be           Price:         about 33
                                                                  pointless since the Age of
                                                                  Scheme rules can’t be               Reviewer                      Playing appeal
                                                                 transferred to Samarkand.            KMW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
                                                                This is regrettable, but              Udo Bartsch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
                                                                Samarkand has another                 Christwart Conrad . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
                                                               target group. This is also             L. U. Dikus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
                                                              unfortunate because Age of              Matthias Hardel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
                                                             Scheme was a really excellent            Wieland Herold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
                                                             game. Only 143 copies are in             Edwin Ruschitzka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
                                                            circulation; a reprint won’t              Harald Schrapers* . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
                                                            happen. And it is highly unlikely
                                                                                                      * Unfortunately, the numbered locations
                                                           that any owner of this game will           make the map unclear – geographical
                                                           part with his copy.                        names would be easier to keep in mind.



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