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Durch die Wüste
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Durch die Wüste

original German edition of Through the Desert

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30-45 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Kosmos

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Product Description

The desert comes alive! Five Bedouin tribes are beginning to inhabit the empty desert. They establish caravans, occupy water holes and link oases, while enclosing desert areas, thereby gaining points.

The gameboard/desert is divided into many small hexes with a center of insurmountable mountains, several waterholes scattered about, and even a palm tree here and there to signal an oasis for the thirsty desert wanderer. There are camels of five different colors--each player takes one of each color, mounts them with camel drivers in his own color, and places the figurines on the playing map at five different hexes of his own choice (preferably next to a waterhole or oasis). Each camel marks the beginning of a new caravan.

During his turn, a player takes two new camels of any color and places them in his caravan of the same color. In time, the caravan stretches far, sometimes blocking another caravan. Of course, it is preferable to pass as many oases and waterholes as possible. The former gives every visitor a 5-point chip, while the latter dries out after the first drink. Each waterhole has a chip marked 1, 2 or 3 points which the first visitor collects. If a Bedouin (player) is able to form a ring with his caravan, all enclosed waterholes become his property, and every hex in the enclosure yields another point. In addition, there are more points awarded for having the longest herd in each color.

Product Awards

Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1998
Deutscher Spiele Preis
4th place, 1998

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Kosmos

  • Year: 1998

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 30 - 45 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Est. time to learn: 10-20 minutes

  • Weight: 1,125 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #112

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. An English translation of the rules is provided.

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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.4 in 34 reviews

Pure Strategy + No Luck = Awesome
December 25, 2002

I do not know what the previous gamers reviewing this game are thinking. This is a great game of pure strategy- there is no luck involved. You have to keep one eye on your opponents moves and possibilities and one eye on your situation. Hem an opponent in, close him off from an oasis, capture territory, and strive to have the longest caravan in at least three of the five colors (in a two player game-10 bonus points per color to the longest caravan is huge- often game deciding). This game is a GREAT two player game and does play differently with three or more. Depending on experience, a third or fourth player can wreck your plans or unwittingly play into them. You must keep your eyes on the camel supply, because when one color runs out, the game is over. This is harder to project with multiple players. I cannot speak highly enough of this game - it is awesome strategy- and you are never sure who is going to win. I suggest that the reviewers giving this game a poor review should try playing an experienced player in this game and see how dull or boring it is- There is so much to do and so little time- prioritizing is paramount and you are planning many moves and possibilities at all times. One of the best for a pure strategy two player game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A True Classic
April 12, 2002

Through the Desert is one of Knizia's best works. As with many of his games, it is fairly abstract - the camels have no real realationship to the the game; the theme is an overlay to a great system. The game system is a derivative of Go. As such, the mechanics are minimal but the strategic and tactical possibilities are near infinite.

This is not a game with a lot of player interaction (like Res Publica, High Society or Modern Art). It is very chess-like in nature yet simple enough to teach in a few minutes. Of all of Kinizia's games, I feel this one is the one that should be mass marketed; it easily surpasses Othello and Mastermind in possibilities and yet is no more difficult to teach. This is a classic.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
This desert isn't dry.
November 25, 2001

The claim has been made that this game is blatantly abstract and quite dry with a pasted on theme. While I can't entirely deny those allegations, I think they are too strong. This is not only a challenging and enjoyable game, but it also has an aura all its own as the pastel pallette overtakes the sands.

My experiences with this game have been that the game is consistently close and readily understood, if not mastered, by newer players. The challenge of balancing where and when to attack, when to grab easy points and managing the finite, shared supply of camels makes this a game where you just can't consider your position too much. Despite this, I haven't found that the game leads to 'analysis paralysis' the way some other games do. Perhaps it is because so much changes between each turn, you always need to be nimble in your thinking.

Don't be put off by the claims of dryness or abstractness! This is a strong game that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a game where strategy and skill will allow you to plan and react your way to victory.

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

Show all 34 reviews >

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