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Message to the Czar
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Message to the Czar

English language edition

List Price: $27.95
Your Price: $22.35
(20% savings!)
(Worth 2,235 Funagain Points!)

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 20-40 minutes 2-5

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Product Description

The governors have important messages that must reach the czar as quickly as possible. Because the governors live in provinces in the far reaches of his empire, a governor must be clever and a little lucky to be the first to get his message to the czar, winning the game and the favor of the czar.

The players each send several couriers on the long and convoluted trip to the czar's palace. Along the way, the couriers travel from village to village through swamps, forests, and mountains. In each village, the couriers check in to one of the inns and spend the night. But only the early risers will be able to move on to the next village in the morning. Those who sleep late must remain in the village for another night, hoping the new day will provide better opportunities.

Product Information


  • 1 game board
  • 60 couriers
  • 6 signs
  • 5 messages
  • 30 coins
  • 1 rule booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3 in 6 reviews

by Dave
A thoughtful filler that plays well with 2 to 5!
September 16, 2003

I must admit I've never played Muscat but I've enjoyed each game we've played of Message. There is definitely a huge luck factor between the draw of tiles and bribing the guards, but I think the game play is great. Do you move your message? Is it worth moving an opponents messenger to advance yours? And all the other factors you must consider to reach the palace guards. It played well with 2 and was even more fun with 5. I found it to be a fun filler with engaging play! Recommended!

by Dr Jay
Catherine, where are the Cossacks when you need them?
September 13, 2003

Message to the Czar did not impress me at first. I had to memorize the locations in each inn of the Officer, the Cossack, the Diplomat, and the Attache. We played two player, two rounds, to get the feel of the game.

Soon it became apparent the game produced more intricate strategy. It wasn't enough to remember the location of the four protagonists. You had to remember which way the arrows were drawn in the inns. I liked the idea of jumping swamps, grasslands (skipping inns), and so forth if the particular tile did not fit in the certain inn. Four inns were immediately closed in the two-player game. When you first place the message block on the drawn tile of 12 pieces, you discover the placement may not work. Constantly, I was having to fuss with changing the message to accommodate the changing vagaries of the other player's placement. It became disheartening to see your message left in the dust by the other player moving to different inn levels.

You had to judge whether you wanted to move the Officer and the Attache, for example, with one of these tiles being the other player. It too soon became apparent the other player was going to force you to spend 10 rubles instead of his lowly six to win the game. The 20+ rubles are grouped at the top of the board for the player who reaches the Czar's fortress.

In the ruble spending for the last level, one player commented it was a matter of luck which rubles were turned over first. Having not played Muscat, I cannot comment on whether the luck factor interfered with the game's end. I can say the other player (blue tiles) became nervous about drawing too many overturned rubles and finding the Njet. That action of Njet allowed me to catch up and move closer to the Czar's fortress.

Religiously, I tried to challenge the other player's placement in the inns. Still, as the blue tile player commented, 'If you don't provide an aggressive stance at the beginning, you will be left in the dust.'

With my more conservative play, I lost both rounds of what is basically a good beer-and-pretzel game. Would I play it again? The answer is certainly, because the game challenges you to improve your strategy with each new play. You want to beat the other player to the Czar's fortress and claim those rubles and the game.

Personally, the tiles are attractively done, and the board is nicely laid out for the different inn levels. However, if you can't draw a Cossack from the discard pile or the main pile when you need that tile, all may be lost at the moment.

A solid redesign
June 20, 2003

First off, the previous review appears to be a little harsh.

Message to the Czar is a simple race game with a considerable amount of strategy. Where Muscat appears to be a game of force, Message is one of finesse.

The vagrants, which tend to bog down the game of Muscat with their 'special' actions and additional rules, have been removed. The 'Struggles of Power' have been simplified and, in my opinion, are much more rewarding of good play.

One of your 'Couriers' holds a 'message', which must ultimately move to the palace if you want a chance to win. Its movement is your unlimate concern. With four opponents, that's not an easy task. In Muscat, you can win without getting one piece to the palace, which should be the whole object of the game!

Luck does play a part, but it is evened out considerably by the Palace Guards bribe mechanism.

All-in-all, Message to the Czar is a solid filler game which should see a lot of play at our gaming tables this year.

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