English language edition of Morgenland
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Long before the sun rises in our lands, Aladdin and his friends are already busy, searching the Dragons' caves for treasure. Treasures they will take to the city to buy the magical artifacts available only in the Caliph's palace. Along the way, they may haggle with traders in the market and visit the magician to acquire his arcane spells. Taking treasures from dragons and dealing with traders and magicians may be interesting, but not as important as acquiring the Caliph's marvelous artifacts. And marvelous they are: flying carpets, magic lamps, keys to the palace, and other objects of power and wonder.
Although the rules for playing the game are simple, the strategies for winning are not. On every turn, a player must decide whether to concentrate on taking treasures, getting spells, or visiting the Caliph to barter for his artifacts.
Aladdin's Dragons is a game with subtle strategies to challenge the most ardent of game players. But the rules are simple and the game is fun and exciting for casual players.
May Allah be with you!
Players: 3 - 5
Time: 60 - 90 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Weight: 1,479 grams
All-Time Sales Rank: #145
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
- 1 game board
- 95 treasures in 5 colors of plexiglas
- 21 magic cards
- 45 treasure cards
- 1 starting player camel
- 40 tokens
- 10 palace guards
- 30 artifacts
- 5 player screens
- 1 game summary
- 1 rule booklet
Average Rating: 4.1 in 16 reviews
I love it. The kids love it. My wife loves it... and that is saying quite a bit! Great game trying to outguess what others are guessing you'll think they are planning... if you catch my drift. Best with a group of people you know, it's fun for adults or for kids and adults. It's even easy to handicap advanced players; make the '8' a '1' marker for Dad, the '5' a '1' marker for Mom, and it gets a lot harder to beat the kids. One of my all time favorites.
I was really impressed with this one. I won't repeat what other people have already said and I will agree with the fact that the game can slow down if players take too long to bid. We found a remedy for that. We use a one minute timer. If you take longer then that, you don't get to lay a tile that turn. It's a big deal to lose a bidding space (even if it's your '1'), so it forces undicided people to act. Other than that minor issue, my family loves the game. I even got my mom to play something other then Rook and she ended up winning. Amazing.
I find this game to be a good family game. This is a great game that anyone could teach the next door neighbor how to play. If you enjoy blind bidding games then you need to play Aladdin's Dragons.
How many people do you know who would 'waste' a bidding token on trying to become the first player? In this game I've seen it happen many times....
Show all 16 reviews >
A new lamp or old? Whether it's new or old to you, our Game of the Year from the 2001 Buyer's Guide will be shining brightly for many years. You have only eight bidding tokens that you allocate facedown each round to sectors of the board offering different rewards for the highest total. ("Is he determined to win this sector, or bluffing with several small values?" players will wonder.) Gaining enough wealth and privileges allows a player to enter the Palace and purchase its artifacts. You win with most artifacts when all have been purchased. Younger players enjoy placing tokens randomly, but it becomes a fiendish game of bluff and chicanery for keen adult gamers.
This tour through the dragon caves, bazaars, and palace of an enchanting wonderland of bidding overcame strong challenges from Die Fürsten von Florenz, La Città, and Web of Power to become our Game of the Year.
You have eight numbered tokens with which to bid each round for: (1) treasures of five kinds, used as currency; (2) privileges; (3) the right to enter the palace; and (4) artifacts on sale in the palace. Each round, one guard disk, valued from 1 to 10, is randomly chosen from the facedown supply to determine the secret minimum bid needed to enter the palace. If you do not meet it, you must pay the difference in treasures or get turned away at the door. The winner is whoever has most artifacts after they've all been purchased.
Players take turns placing a bidding token facedown on any space. This causes sustained tension as players wonder what values the others are using where. Also, how strong is the obstructive palace guard? After all placements are made comes the thrill of revelation. Will you feel relief, or chagrin because just one extra number would have won? Did you spend too much on that confounded guard? Tokens are turned faceup and the player with the highest total value on a space earns its rewards. Winners of an artifact pay for it with treasures equal in value to the total bid, with different kinds required for each token allocated.
It becomes even more difficult to decide how to use your scarce bidding resources in the Magic Version. Artifacts now come in six types, each with its own special power, such as allowing free access to the palace or doubling the value of a bidding token. More mystery--and often malevolence--is added with the right to bid for magic cards. These grant you powers that you can use mischievously to wreak havoc and drive your opponents to desperation, especially during the resolution of bids.
However well you plan your journey, from earning treasures to spending them in the palace, things can easily and quickly go astray. Both casual and serious gamers will treasure Aladdin's Dragons for years to come.
The game's stunning artwork is by Doris Mätthaus (who with collaborator Frank Nestel has games in our Family Games and Family Card Games categories). This third Game of the Year award for Rio Grande is a fitting tribute to Jay Tummelson's dedication and skill in bringing us some of the world's greatest games.
Morgenland, German phrasing for 'Land of the Rising Sun', is the re-work of Richard Breese's Keydom, which was produced in limited quantities and to good reviews at Essen 1998 (Keydom was reviewed in Counter 3.) Morgenland's relationship to Keydom is quite apparent, yet it has been modified and simplified in ways to make it quicker while being more approachable and balanced.
The goal is to win the most Artifact Tiles from the Palace. The beautiful board by Doris Matthäus shows the three play levels: Resources, Town, and Palace. On the Resource level, players bid for the right to earn different colored gems that are used to buy services in the town, gain access to the palace to get the treasures, and pay for the Artifacts themselves. In the Town, players bid for four different service options, and if they successfully bribe the Palace Guard they enter the Palace and see if their bids for the Artifacts holds up.
If you've played Keydom, this structure makes sense. For those that haven't, let me review the fundamental bid mechanism introduced in that game. Each player in Morgenland is given a set of tokens with values from one through nine. The first half of each round is used to place the tokens face down in a specific area of the board to bid for the action in that area. If I place in the Red Gem area of the Resource level, I am bidding to get some of the red gems that are available that round. Players place one at a time until all tokens are laid, then each area is resolved beginning with the first Resource area, following through to the Town, and into the Palace. Throughout the resolution phase, the results build, meaning that gems earned in the Resource level can be spent in the Town right away. As each section is resolved, the tokens are revealed and the order of the bids determines the effect.
The Artifact Tiles, in addition to being worth a victory point, also give special powers that can be used during the game. Each round, only one special power can be invoked, even if you hold all six of the different Artifact Tiles.
There are five chambers on the Resource level for each of five differently colored gems. Each has multiple areas to hold gems, although the gems available each round are determined by a blind card draw with the top spot always the richest. For example, in a single round the Gold Gem chamber may offer four gems to the high bidder, three to second high bidder, and one to the third high bidder. Meanwhile, the White Gem area is offering only two gems and only to the highest bidder. As the tokens are revealed, multiple placements by a single player are added to create a single bid, a feature quite different from Keydom. Having a lot of gems and an appropriate distribution of colors is important, since paying for Artifacts could require two or more colors in defined lots.
Moving into the Town, four services are available beginning with the Spell Tent. The high bidder here takes two Spell cards, chooses one, and gives the other to the second high bidder. The Spells can be nasty if you're on the receiving end, and add a major element to the game. Playing the spell requires invoking the use of an 'Aladdin's Lamp' Artifact (one given to each player at the start), and since this is one of the special powers it eliminates other Artifact Tile usage in that round.
Also available in the Town is the Bazaar, where the high bidder can exchange a single gem for three gems of different colors. The Ruins area gives you the right to use two Artifact Tiles (special powers) in the round. This could be two following the Bazaar, or a second after the Bazaar if one was already used in the round prior to winning the Bazaar bid. The last spot in the town is the Camel Station, and the high bidder here becomes the start player for the next round. This is significant since bidding ties are broken in favor of the start player.
After the Town is the Palace, but to gain entrance to the Palace the Guard must be successfully bribed. The Guard has his own set of tokens numbered from 1-10, and at this point one is randomly revealed. The players reveal their bids, and if it matches or exceeds the Guard they get in. If their bid is less, they can choose to pay the difference in a single color of gems. Alternatively, one of the Artifact Tiles is a key that allows access to the Palace without bribing the guard, but when this is used it counts as the one special power for the round.
In the Palace, there are multiple spots for Artifact Tiles and the tiles available are exposed during the bidding. In addition to the Aladdin's Lamp and Key tiles discussed, the other four include a 'Doubler' which doubles the value of any single bid token, a 'Flying Carpet' that acts as an extra '3' token and can fly in to any spot on the board when needed, a 'Counter Spell' that cancels the effects of a Spell, and a 'Board' that helps to break ties in the end. The successful bidder for the tile must pay their bid in gems, and if multiple tokens are used to win the bid each must be paid with a different color gem. If the high bidder can't meet this requirement, the second high gets the chance, and so on. It is often worth betting a low value token as it is not uncommon to be the default bidder when the higher bidders get cashed out due to a Spell or other action.
Morgenland plays fairly fast and the decisions are meaningful but the effects of the Spells and the blind bidding make for enough surprises to keep things unpredictable. Each area of the board can be resolved quickly, and this is clearly an improvement over Keydom, although it has the consequence of diluting much of the strategy and planning aspects of the original. The Spells really shake things up; one card, for example, makes all '9' bids equal to '1' and vice versa. Since you generally place your higher tiles on the areas of higher priority, this not only messes that up but also could require enormous payments at the Guard gate or in the Palace.
The sequential resolution of spaces, like Keydom, allows for planning with somewhat predictable risks. The last Artifact Tile, for example, is likely to be won with a lower bid than the first, simply because there are more opportunities to spend gems before getting to that spot. A strategy dependent on winning the second use of a special power at the Ruins can fail miserably if that bid isn't won, and even a high absolute bid can't ensure this due to the Flying Carpet tile or spells. One spell removes all of the gems from one chamber after the bids are placed, so anyone counting on spending those gems in that round is in for a surprise.
Morgenland is fun, and somewhat like Elfenroads to Elfenland it has taken a 'gamer's game' and turned it into a more family-orientated contest that gamers will still enjoy. Unlike the Elfen games, though, the changes from Keydom are substantive enough to consider Morganland a really different game. I likely will never play Elfenroads again, for example, since the opportunity cost of time is too great when Elfenland is available. But, even though Morgenland sits on the shelf I will still look for games of Keydom with the right crowd. If you don't know either game, I suggest trying Morgenland as a nice family game with some meat. If you know Keydom and didn't like it, don't miss out on trying Morgenland as it may have fixed all the issues that bothered you about the original. Lastly, if you like Keydom, don't hold Morgenland to the same standard or you'll be disappointed, much like a movie never captures all the details of a good book. Appreciate both for what they are.