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Samarkand
 
 
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Store:  Family Games
Edition:  Bazaar II / Samarkand
Theme:  Arabian
Genre:  Trading
Format:  Board Games

Samarkand

English language edition


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Ages Play Time Players
9+ 40 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Sid Sackson

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Abacus

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Product Description

Samarkand is a fast-paced trading game set in the exotic East. Sparkling jewels and valuable carpets promise large gains, but copper goods and grain can also earn important profits. All merchants know where they can trade with Nomads amd what goods they have available for those who are willing to to offer gifts for their hospitality. They also know where to buy the wares they want for the best prices. Finally, these merchants know which bazaars in cities such as Samarkand or Isfahan offer the best prices for the goods they have to sell. The merchants know which desert paths to use to travel amongst the nomads, oases, and cities and so can plan their trips to be efficient and earn the largest profit for their travels.

Product Information

Samarkand has the following expansions available:

Isfahan English language edition Out of Stock

Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 3.9 in 15 reviews

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Strategy more subtle than you might suspect
December 24, 2001

Reading the reviews for Samarkand, many people expressed the sentiment that this is a great family game, but not much of a strategy game. I disagree. While I grant there is a great deal of luck as well (which keeps it fun and not chess like), I also think there is a lot of strategy to this game. First of all, you get to choose where to start and what route you will take. You examine your hand and the cards on the table. You plan your route. Then you decide between three modes of movement: a die roll for the cost of five, moving an extra square for giving up the ability to trade at the bedouin camps, or a straightforward move of one. Then each place you go to has two options or a penalty. Then when you sell at the city, you get to move one of the two yellow markers that dictate which goods have flooded the market and which goods are more desirable.

Let me just give you a smattering of examples of some of the strategies you could use that are less obvious:

  1. Purposefully flood the market in a good you notice your opponent is collecting. Your opponent is gathering up jewels? Sell two jewels and your opponent's jewels suddenly go down in value.
  2. Fill up a Bedoin camp and then use dice rolls to beat your opponent back there and collect the cards yourself for a mere ten piasters.
  3. Plan ahead--just get a couple cards for the immediate city you are heading towards and start building up six cards for the second city you hit.
  4. Make your opponent discard their large hands. Your opponent bought up a lot of cards? Purposefully run the deck out so they have to discard their excess cards.
  5. Use dice rolls to leapfrog a city you do not have good cards for.

These are just a few examples of unusual strategies to throw in with the staple strategies which are already plentiful. I find this game excellent because of some of its more subtle aspects. For example, each commodity is unique in its value and frequency. The board is configured in such a way that there are pluses and minuses to any given route. By continually traveling the same route, you may give your opponent an advantage by filling up a Bedoiun camp for him or her. The game works well because you have options, but not too many options.

If you like this one, you might try [page scan/se=0630/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Through the Desert, Elfenland, or Acquire.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
 
 
 
 
 
Samarkand works well for families
July 22, 2001

We've been playing this game as a family for about four years, and it's one that we keep coming back to. My family prefers games in which each player can make progress toward a goal, even though only one player can win. This reduces the hard feelings among the younger members of the group. Opportunities to ruin your opponent's position are not all that common, so there aren't too many 'pig piles'.

This was an excellent game for a seven- or eight-year-old (my son's age when he started to play). You need to do math only when you deliver goods, and if necessary, you can get help at that point. However, there's nothing like the motivation of beating your big sister to encourage the quick learning of arithmetic skills.

Experienced gamers may find this game to be a little too simple and somewhat luck-dependent, but I recommend it heartily for families with children in the 'seven-year-old and up' range.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
 
 
 
 
 
Humble solid family game
July 17, 2001

It is rare for me to write a corrective review. However, given the way I slammed Samarkand in an earlier review, I felt it was necessary to come back now with a different perspective.

When I first got this game, I mostly played it two players. And while it is not bad with two, I don't find it great with two--it seems too dry. But since I wrote my review I've had a chance to play it a few more times with varying amounts of players, and this game has started to grow on me.

I don't think it is a classic, but it almost has a timeless feel about it, which many games, including many of my favorites, do not have. Samarkand has a bit of a problem with playing against the system instead if against each other, but it is a simple little trading game that families can pull out and enjoy. Don't expect Big City or Settlers of Catan and you'll probably find a lot to like about this game as a light board game. Try to make this into a big game and you'll be disappointed.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

Show all 15 reviews >

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