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Through the Desert
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Through the Desert

English language edition of Durch die Wüste

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Product Awards:  

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

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Product Description

The desert is treacherous, mysterious, and without mercy. But for those willing to risk the dangers of the shifting, sun-baked sands, the desert holds riches beyond compare.

In Through the Desert, two to five players each control a tribe of nomads vying for control of the desert. By establishing caravans and taking over oases, the players gain points as their tribes increase in power.

Strategy is essential in deciding how and where to build your tribe's caravans. There is more than one way to gain points, and several ways to win. Should you try to build the longest caravan? Or should you dominate the desert's oases? Don't forget to keep an eye on your opponents' caravans, or you may find your own tribe cut off from valuable water holes.

Product Awards

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

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Asmodee North America, Kosmos, Fantasy Flight Games

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 30 - 45 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Est. time to learn: 10-20 minutes

  • Weight: 1,008 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 game board
  • 175 plastic camel playing pieces
  • 30 plastic camel-rider playing pieces
  • 45 water hole counters
  • 5 oasis counters
  • 40 point-counting chips
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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.

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.

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.

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