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!
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....
I can't believe it, but when I first bought this game, I was afraid to open it because I began to wonder what the fun could be in it. I had read the rather mixed reviews, I had viewed the pics on the net, and suddenly I wondered if the game would be any fun to play.
Well, in one of those funny little instances that make life so interesting, Aladdin's Dragons is easily one of my favorite 'big' board games. I love Bohnanza, King of The Elves, and play them quite often with people who I would call light gamers. When I want to pull out something with more to it, Aladdin's Dragons is one of my first choices.
Imagine something a bit like poker but with more theme and way more trashtalking. The tension in this game is simply unbelievable, but it isn't the kind of tension that results in lots of down time, since really, you don't have enough info to make a competent analysis. Now some may then note that detracts from the skill involved. RIGHT! This is a BLUFFING game, and you have to like bluffing games to enjoy this, but between the bluffing, and the clever treasure-type/bid-purchase-price system for buying artifacts, I really enjoy this game.
The other nice thing about it is that anyone over the age of 12 could learn it quite easily, but there is enough to the game to be playing it years from now since it doesn't have that novelty factor that ruins the longevity of some other games. It is a solid good game that I think I'll be playing years from now--something that can't be said for some of my other games. Oh yes, and the artwork is subtly wonderful... if you buy the game and don't like it, just hang the board up on your wall as a poster.
I played this game tonight for the first time with a group of friends who all usually prefer party games to strategy games. I love strategy games and have been frusterated in the past trying to enjoy one with this group. To my surprise, though, they all loved it. The rules are simple enough to explain in 5-10 minutes. Within no time, we were all fiercely bidding against each other in dragon caves, the city and the palace. As each round went by we began to pick up on some of the stategies needed for success. The game comes with a big, beautiful board and lots of cool little treasures and artifacts. All of this eye candy did a great job of sustaining everyone's interest and creating the right atmosphere for the game's theme. This is one of the only games I've ever seen that pacifies both casual gamers and serious gamers at the same time. And its fun to see a casual player making seemingly whimsical bids beating a serious player who tries to calculate all the risks.
Tonight we played the basic game, but there is a more advanced version in which even more variables come into play such as magic cards and artifacts. I look foward to trying that out with my serious group of gamers. I have a feeling I will be enjoying this game for a very long time.
While some may say Modern Art and the genre of bidding games by creators such as Reiner Knizia represent gaming at its best, I disagree. Not everyone is a gamer. For some a game which wrings out their brain like a washcloth is fun. For others it's a bore. For some chess is a bore and Stratego is the best of games. Aladdin's Dragons takes away much of the complexity of these games, yet allows for depth as well as luck in good proportion. There is color and a rhythm to this game which creates an atmosphere of fun.
Though some claim that secretive actions (the bidding and magic spell holdings) make this a chaotic and random game, nothing could be further from the truth.
As players place tokens on the board, think and counter-think occurs among the other players as they decide whether or not the token is a bluff (low value) or if they should avoid that region entirely, as they don't want to escalate into a bidding war.
As a result, two playing styles emerge--the overly cautious player, who puts more than enough power into a particular area to ensure their dominance (at the expense of having a multifaceted overall strategy); and the reckless adventurer who hopes to squeak by in multiple locales (magic tent, artifacts, caves, and maybe more) only to have a slight miscalculation lead to a ruined turn.
Truly a wonderful game playable by almost any age group.
Aladdin's Dragons is a game where the action occurs on three separate yet linked levels: the Caves, the City, and the Palace.
Each player secretly places 8 tokens in a round robin fashion in 1 of 15 possible areas. In most areas, only the top bid gets something in return. The exceptions are the caves and Aladdin's Tent where the second bid, and perhaps third and fourth, may obtain a lesser reward. Since you can't bid everywhere, you have to prioritize where your chits will fall.
After all tokens are placed, each area in resolved one-at-a-time, in a specific order. First, jewels are acquired in 1 of 5 caves. Jewels are used later to purchase artifacts in the Palace.
Next, the City locations are adjucated, where magic cards may be acquired (top two bids only). One player will earn the right to play two artifacts per turn (versus a single artifact). One player will be able to exchange 1 jewel for any 3 jewels. Lastly, one player will become the 'first player'. This last attribute is important because ties are resolved in order of placement. This means that the first player wins all ties.
Next, would-be artifact buyers must get by the Guard to enter the Palace where artifiacts may be bought. Since the game is won by the player who buys the most artifacts, avoiding the Palace is NOT an option. A chit is pulled randomly each turn to determine the value of the guard (1-10), and is not revealed until after all tokens have been placed. Players must match or exceed the guard's value to enter. Failing to achieve this, players must resort to outright bribery (bring on your jewels).
Next, the top bid in each of 5 palace room earns players the right to buy the artifact located there (one per round). The cost is the bid made. If more than one chit is bid (MAX: 5), those chits must be matched in different jewel types (ex: 2 x gold bars and 4 x pearls). Thus, the richer you are the more you can afford to bid for artifacts, beating out the competition. This could prove expensive however. Overbidding will drive you to the poor house.
All of this is pretty straightforward, except that (in the advanced game), artifacts have very nice powers that you can invoke, 1 x artifact per turn unless you are top bid in the Djinn's House.
Magic cards, some of them awfully powerful, can be used to throw the competition in total disarray although the counterspell artifact can be played to negate any one magic card.
Strategies are diverse and will vary throughout a game (usually 5 rounds). Players must adjust to varying conditions, trying to obtain something out of every token or combination of tokens.
The dilemna is that you can't be everywhere, doing everything, all of the time. Timing is crucial in artifact play and token placement. Revealing one's plan too early will see you defeated.
Aladdin's Dragons is a game that you will want to play numerous times as I doubt that any sure-win strategy could be developed, so dynamic is the bidding process. Jewel and artifact availability is also random adding to the uncertainty of the whole affair.
Aladdin's Dragons requires thinking, judicious asset management, bluffing, and a certain ruthlessness in dealing with the opposition. The fine art of backstabbing can reach a high level in this game. You could also 'play nice', if you so desire when playing with family and friends.
Buyers will be pleased with the physical components. The jewels are indeed impressive: solid colored plastic pieces (no cheapies here folks). You get 45 treasure cards: 15 for 3-player games, 15 for 4-player games, and 15 for 5-player games. This is a nice touch. The huge board is of excellent quality.
How many ways can you play this game?
My parents, who dislike any mention of the words 'magic spells', prefer the simple variant where the magic cards are not used and you cannot invoke the artifacts. My Saturday gaming group tried the full-blown 5-player "bring your sneakiness over here and let's go" version and loved it, especially those of us who prefer not to overtax our brains when we play games. That's not to say that we don't enjoy serious strategy, just not 10 hours of it. A few of us want to relax and have fun. It's not always about winning, but being with friends. (But we all enjoy winning, too.)
I love this game, but it all depends on who shows up for the gaming group as to whether we break this one out or not. With the right people, a night of Aladdin's Dragons could be just the thing.
Richard Breese is the architect and historian of a little piece of gaming real estate called the Keywood. His first game, Keywood, was about the early settlers of this land. The second, Keydom, saw this property becoming a mighty kingdom. In its third incarnation, the land became the status-conscious Keytown. One wonders what is next in the storied history of this little land.
Aladdin's Dragons is a rework of Keydom. The original game was much admired for its innovative play, but there were some problems that kept it from classic status, not the least of which was a 'kingmaker' endgame problem. Reworked by Mr. Breese in collaboration with one of the veteran designers at Hans im Gluck, it has emerged as an award-winning entry into the family gaming market.
Lest it be dismissed by gamers desiring heavier fare, let me state that Aladdin's Dragons is deceptively light. The basic version of the game is fine for the first playing or two, but the advanced rules, using magic spells and artifacts, make for a much more interesting and exciting game.
The interactions of the various artifacts, spells, and board spaces make for some tantalizing and agonizing decisions. There are never enough bidding chips to go around, so a player must make some educated guesses as to where they will do the most good. Bluffing is important, but strategy and planning will almost assuredly carry the day.
Two thumbs up for this fresh and original game. Not for all tastes, so only four stars, but a very HIGH four stars.
The first time I played this game, I played the 'basic' game recommended in the rules. It was a boring experience, and I wrote the game off. Fortunately, I read enough positive reviews of the game that I was moved to try it again, but with the 'magic' additions that make it complete. The result was a really fun game. So, take my advice, and don't bother with the basic game; play with magic from the first play.
What a wonderful game! Talk about a game that hits all the 'German' game stereotypes--great bits (as can always be expected from Hans im Gluck), tremendous artwork (thanks to Doris Matthaus of Doris and Frank), agonizing decisions (where do I put the last token I have?) and very decnt player interaction (how come you put that there?). Aladdin's Dragons has all the components of a great game.
So why only four stars? A couple of things stop me from giving the highest rating. First, the game play is pretty regimented. With the exception of spell cards that get counter spelled right away and occasional clever use of an artifact, each round will be the same. Also, the winning strategy is all too obvious; pick up gems and artifacts early by ignoring the middle locations on the board.
Still, a very good game that I have played repeatedly with several different types of people. It's no El Grande or Tigris & Euphrates, but it's still a treasure and a game that I will be playing for years to come.
A very clever and functional mechanism, very nice board and components. The theme however is non-existent or irrelevant. At no point did I have the feel that I was killing dragons, collecting treasures, entering the Palace or using Aladdins lamp. But then again this complaint is valid for most of Euro-German games.
Picked up a copy of this crowd favorite recently and tried it out--first the basic game, then the advanced game. Well, it was amazing that we played the advanced game, we were all rather bored after the sterile and flavorless play in the basic game.
With the addition of the spells and artifact effects, there is nothing for certain and there are 2 places on the game board that are now used, making the bidding phase a lot more interesting than the basic variation.
Quality gameboard graphics and nice components make for a nice visual as well as an interesting and easy to pick up game. I can't say that it was all that amazing, but I must say there were only 3 of us playing the game. More players probably makes a difference.
This one didn't do much for me. It is indeed a bluffing game, as a previous poster mentioned, but that's all it is. It's not terrible, it's just that all you really get to do is try and guess what tokens the other players are putting down. There aren't a lot of interesting decisions to make (I just didn't find the bid-placing that exciting), which is for me (along with FUN) the main attribute of a good game.
I can see why some people like this game; it's just not my cup of tea. Be sure to take its narrow focus (at its heart it's basically a guessing game) into account when you decide whether you want to purchase it or not.
Played it once. The amount of time waiting for people to place their bids each round was too much for the small payoff of seeing who got what. Several players, including myself, were so bored with the game we let it end by mutual consent with one artifact still left. By that time nobody really cared. Maybe if there was a way to force people to play faster....
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.