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Ivanhoe: The Age of Chivalry
List Price: $25.00
Your Price: $19.95
(Worth 1,995 Funagain Points!)
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from 23 customer reviews
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Take on the role of a knight and join the prestigious tournaments at the king's court. Use your cards to win the jousting competitions, or fight with your sword, axe or morningstar. Rally your squires, gain the support of a maiden and play action cards against your opponents. The first player to win four or five different tournaments becomes the overall victor. The game consists of many consecutive tournaments. The player who starts the tournament determines which weapon will be used in it. A tournament may start as jousting, as a fight with swords, axes, or morningstars, or as a fight without weapons. Usually a tournament is fought with the same weapon throughout. However, some action cards allow the players to change the current tournament weapon.
A player who wins a tournament receives one token of the final color in which the tournament was fought. However, a player who wins a jousting tournament may take any color token (due to the prestige of the jousting tournament). Let the tournaments begin!
- 110 full-color Playing cards (70 color cards; 20 supporter cards; and 20 action cards)
- 25 colored chips (tokens)
- 7-page Rule Book (includes Sample Tournaments)
Average Rating: 4.2 in 23 reviews
Brilliant. Just brilliant. Quick, fun, and the theme fits perfectly. It's been our Tuesday night game sesh opener for, oh, years now. We have a great laugh with the role-playing ("Thy maiden's good name has been besmirched, sir!") and stitching-up ("T'would appear thy lance was made out of balsa-wood"). And it's easy to get into -- when people turn up halfway through a game, they just get a hand of 8 cards and off they go. I got very sad a few years ago when it became out-of-print, as my copy was becoming a bit tatty. So huzzah when it was reprinted!
I wrote a review of this game in 2002, this summer I've been pulling out some quick playing card games that I can play with non-gamers and gamers alike. While sampling a friend's micro-brew selections a group of us played Ivanhoe. It was a great time. I credit GMT for departing from there serious wargames to produce this game and I think some of the newer games have kept this one in the closet for a bit, but I just wanted to remind gamers of this fun little gem. I keep seeing Rage, Slide 5, and other neat little card games on the Top Seller section. If these appeal to people maybe they should look over the rules to this game and they might make it a staple. A cold brew seems to add to the strategy!
Ivanhoe allows you to play a quick competitive game with some interesting twists by using "special" cards to alter the game flow. The simple concept of winning four of five possible color related battles makes it simple to learn. I highly recommend!
I recently decided to purchase Ivanhoe based on several accolades--including one here--that I read by Frank Hamrick. I have known him for years and trust his judgment. However I wish he had been there when I tried to play Ivanhoe for the first time. I'm still fairly new to this type of gaming; Checkers, Clue, Monopoly, and various trivia games have pretty much been the staples for me for years. I'm not used to several pages of rules. I, like most people I suppose, catch on to games a lot faster if I have someone who already knows how to play show me how instead of having to read the rules, but I persevered. Of course trying to read and understand the rules at 2 o'clock in the morning may have been the wrong thing to do, but I found reading the sample tournaments at the back of the rules booklet to be more helpful and informative than the rules themselves. Once I finally got into the game, I found it to be fairly easy. I've played the game twice with my nephew now, and we really enjoyed it. I look forward to teaching it to my other gaming pals. Ivanhoe will definitely get a lot a playing time out of this gamer.
No this isn't the typical gamer's fare, it's a quickly-played card game with some King Arthur thrown in for color. It's a blast! There is actually quite a bit a depth to it, as there is in gin rummy and backgammon. No, this isn't a brain buster like Modern Art or some of this guy's other 'masterpieces', but who wants to hear Mozart all the time? This game was made to have some fun with. Grab your shield and enter the fray!
I give this game 5 stars for Families and casual gamers. I have played this game with 2,3, and 4 players and it played equally well with each. All the players enjoyed the game and wanted to play again. What more could you ask for in a light game.
Ivanhoe is an update of Reiner Knizia's Attacke. Unlike Battle Line (which is an update of Schotten-Totten and I play without the tactics cards), the tactics cards in Ivanhoe really fit the theme well and add enjoyment and strategy.
Ivanhoe is a great value because of it's price, portability, replay value, and scalability.
5 Stars for light casual gaming, espically good for introducing to non-gamers.
I can't add much to the meat of the reviews below. I won't add much about the game itself. However, on a personal note, gaming (particularly wargaming and German gaming) are big passions of mine. I have been preaching the gaming mantra to many non-gamer friends for many years. Without fail, every person who has tried Ivanhoe has really liked it. More than a few have bought their own copies (granted, a few just come over to my house to play).
Is it my first choice for strategic subtlety? No. However, there are definite strategies that are important for winning the game. I have seen more than one game come down to the last round where every player needs only one chip to win.
And considering how many German games feel like the theme has been weakly applied at the end, Ivanhoe's theme actually holds up pretty well. The concept that you can't change a tourney colour to purple (jousting) from any of the other colours makes some sense. The cards have good art, and the actions seem to make a modicum of sense. Plus, there is the great joy of shouting, 'I am the Hoe!' when you have just blocked someone's dastardly play with the Ivanhoe card.
Anyway, it is a fun little game that will help draw more gamers into your circle. Consider it an entry drug, err...game (first one's free, then you gotta pay!)
Ivanhoe is a wild, chaotic multi-player game. The rules are so simple that they are quickly learned, and children can play with adults on an even level. Lots of back-stabbing and rapid changes of fortune. Game is great fun, and everyone is interested and involved all the time. Small box, no time to set up, so it can be played anywhere. Perfect family game, great for travel. The 'criticisms' that it is chaotic and that it is not an analytical strategy game are true; it's not a chess-like game. One reviewer compares it to poker, and that is fairly apt, except that Ivanhoe is way more fun!
This is not a game like Bridge in which card management is key; it is a game of chip management and probabilities like Poker. In this game you must determine when to withdraw from the tournament rather than throw more good cards on bad. The old saying: 'Is this the hill you want to die on', often rings true. Contests are tense and the action cards add random elements which can frustrate. Another saying: 'He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day', also rings true. By keeping out of the contest, you raise the total cards in your hand and increase your chances in further fights.
This is an excellent abstract card game in which the theme adds color. After playing several cards and finding that it's between you and another player, just try withdrawing from a tournament based on your head and not your heart.
If only the old Avalon Hill could have made instructions to their games as clear as these. I swear we were knee deep into the game after a brief reading.
This game is a lot of fun; not as stategic as Schotten-Totten, but moreso though than Lost Cities. It is emotional and requires bluffing more than many card games. Those who think Bridge is a game of skill and Poker is just pure luck will probably fail to see the genius in this game. Fortunately, great designers such as Knizia are not as limited in their thinking.
This is a great card game. The artwork by Kurt Miller is awesome, the rules are simple, and the gameplay is exciting. A game of Ivanhoe takes less than an hour to play, with virtually no setup time. Each game I've played has been a tense, white-knuckled affair, with no clear winner until the end. The game itself is one of the prettiest I've ever seen; even the inside edge of the box has neat historical facts and trivia. The cards themselves are also well-designed, and add to the medieval flavor of the game. The special action cards are interesting, and generally add more options and strategy to the card management aspect of Ivanhoe. All my gaming buddies will be playing this one for some time!
Ivanhoe is the kind of game you can pull out and play on a moment's notice. No set up, no mess to clean up. Easy rules. Quick games. Fun. My friend and I arrived at a speaking engagement in a distant town an hour and a half early. What do we do? We found a Barnes and Noble and sat at a table in the coffee shop, pulled out Ivanhoe (which I just happened to bring along) and spilled our blood in jousts, sword fighting, etc. We played two games in the hour that remained, picked up our cards, and rushed to the meeting (almost late)!
That's one of the great things about Ivanhoe. You can play it anywhere, anytime, in little time! Yet, it is full of fun, challenge, and drama. I feel the tension of a long battle, the agonizing choices of whether or not to retreat and save that maiden, or whether or not to press the fight to the bloody end. I give this game a 5 because of all of the above. How many other games of this quality and tension can you play twice at a Barnes and Noble in an hour, and still not be late?!
Most gaming groups have their staples. The games that get brought out every session due to popular demand. Some groups play Bluff (aka Liars Dice or Call My Bluff), some revisit classics like Can't Stop or Sleuth and others break out standard decks of cards for any number of well-known games. Our group has recently discovered Ivanhoe from GMT Games (designed by Reiner Knizia)!
Like the reviews have already said, this game is fun, exciting, loud and manages to capture the theme quite well. It also ranks as my favorite GMT Games redo (since it is 'based on' an earlier effort from Herr Knizia called Attacke).
The artwork is gorgeous, the manual is easy-to-read, the rules are simple and the game is awesome! This game is being played so often that I'm already considering purchasing a second copy since this one is already showing signs of wear (but believe me, the cards themselves are excellent quality!)
A must-have card game!
This game is amazing fun! I only became aware of the new GMT Games line from Reiner Knizia this fall, and I really liked Battle Line (but Galaxy wasn't exactly my cup of tea). Unfortunately Battle Line was for only two players, so it doesn't fit the bill when we have four or five to play. Well, Ivanhoe certainly does! It's simple to teach, easy to play (even young children can handle it), and SOOOO ADDICTIVE!
The art on the cards is beautiful (that's what first drew in the children that I've played the game with), and the gameplay is every bit as good as the art. I'm hooked!
The first time I played this game I was so frustrated at losing that I immediately demanded a rematch. Soon I found that everybody was demanding a rematch. That's when I realized how addictive this game is. Although the luck of the draw plays heavily into the game, there is a good deal of strategy to be had. At first you may be taken off guard by the various cards that dramatically change who's winning a round, but after getting a feel for how often they come up, the game is simply brilliant. Best for 3-4 players. Highly recommended as a filler game (though it could easily take your whole evening as people demand rematches).
I’m still waiting for a good board game with a jousting theme or even a good chivalry theme. Therefore, any game that boasts such a theme draws my interest, and Ivanhoe (GMT Games, 2000 - Reiner Knizia) did just such so. Of course, I knew before I opened up the game that since it was Knizia game, the chances were high that the theme mattered little or nothing to the game. The artwork reassured me, however, as I opened it up; it sure looked chivalrous.
Playing the game was a very enjoyable experience. The game flowed well, and was a light card game, reminding me slightly of the “Chicken” mechanic found in Taj Mahal. Some of the colors on the cards had special abilities, and I would have liked a reference card; but overall, game play was fast and fun. While the game box states that the game is for two players, it really only shines with 3+, where it becomes a fun game of deciding just when to play your cards. No, it didn’t feel like we were battling knights, but the overlying theme helped make the mechanics feel non- abstract, and we all had a blast. My next playing, however, was even better; because it was with kids. Then, it DID feel like we were battling knights, and the game was even more fun!
A rather large deck of one hundred and ten cards is shuffled, and eight cards are dealt to each player. There are five suits of cards: green, yellow, blue, red, and purple - each with fourteen cards. The values on the cards range from one to seven, but the distribution varies between suits. For example, every green card is a “1”, the blue cards range from “2” to “5” and the purple cards range from “3 to “7”. There are also twenty “wild” cards, known as supporter cards, with values “2”, “3”, and “6” (the value “6” supporters are called “maidens”). Finally, the last twenty cards in the deck are action cards with a variety of results.
A pile of chips is placed near the board, matching the colors of the five card suits. One player is chosen to go first, and the first “tournament” begins with play proceeding clockwise around the table. On a player’s turn, they first draw a card, and then decide whether or not they will withdraw from the tournament or participate. The first player must play at least one card in front of them, starting the tournament in that color. (They can also begin the tournament with a wild card, picking the color of the tournament.) Each successive player must either withdraw or play a card/cards that exceed the previous player’s sum. When a player cannot do so, or will not do so, they must withdraw. Players must always play cards that match the color of the tournament or supporter cards.
When all but one player has withdrawn, that player wins the tournament, taking a chip matching the color of that tournament. The winner of the tournament is the first player in the subsequent tournament. The first player to get a predetermined number of chips is the winner of the game. Some of the colors have unique rules:
- In a green tournament, all cards played have a value of “1” - even supporters.
- The winner of a purple tournament can choose any color chip they want.
- A new purple tournament cannot be started immediately after another purple tournament.
- If a player uses a maiden and is forced to withdraw, they must forfeit one of their chips, if they have any.
A player can play as many action cards as they like on their turn, after which the action card is usually discarded. The action cards can do a variety of things:
- Change the current color the tournament (all current cards stay on the table.)
- Force a player to discard cards (but never their last card.)
- Draw a random card from another player’s hand.
- Force all players to discard their last played card.
- Cancel another action card.
- Etc., etc.,
Some comments on the game...
- Components: The tokens included with the game are the exact same ones in Knizia’s Galaxy: the Dark Ages, small, poker-style chips, with colors that are quite similar to those on the cards. The cards show knights fighting in different styles, with the blue cards being axes, the red cards showing swords, etc. The cards are of decent quality, with white borders (keeps the cards from looking too scuffed up.) The artwork on the cards and boxes looks like that of your typical chivalry- styled artwork from the early twentieth century and helps keep the theme of the game. Everything from the game fits nicely in a plastic insert that fits well in a nicely decorated, small sized box (the standard size for GMT and Steve Jackson small boxes.)
- Rules: The game is quite simple, but the rulebook is fairly lengthy - totaling eight pages. But the game is explained quite clearly, and the last two pages play out two sample tournaments. This was extremely helpful to understanding the rules, as well as detailed explanations of the action cards (which I thought didn’t really need much explaining.) The game was easy to teach and learn, but the special abilities of green and purple aren’t mentioned on the cards, and I thought a small reference card pointing out some of these things would be nice.
- Withdrawing: Knowing when to withdraw is an important strategic decision. Since there is no upper hand limit in the game, it’s a good idea to withdraw from tournaments in which one has no chance, in order to give one the edge in future tournaments. However, if one waits too long, another player might sneak in the victory before they unleash their full power. The maidens could really hurt you, but most players didn’t play them unless they were positive they would win the tournament.
- Action Cards: Knowing when to use the action cards is crucial, also. You’d think that they would add a great deal of chaos to the game; but I found that it was kept in check, because the cards were easily controlled and planned for. They had about the same effect as the action cards did in Battleline. One could play the game without them, I guess, for a more strategic game, but probably less fun. The action cards also helped the thematic elements of the game, making it come to life just a little more, and many of them matched the theme well.
- Fun Factor: We shouted out dire threats and listened to soundtracks as we played our second game, and it made it a lot more fun. At heart, it’s just a simple card game; but the theme, even though it’s pasted on, can be taken and run with; and everyone can have a blast!
The game is simple, the theme has obviously been added, but there is enough strategy to make it worthwhile. I normally don’t buy too many of GMT games, as their main focus is war games, something I merely dabble with occasionally. Ivanhoe, however, has become a decent filler, and has the very invocative knight theme surrounding it. Whether it affects game play or not is totally up to the group; but with a role-playing group, the game is an extreme blast. With a “gaming” group, it may not be so rip-roaring fun, but the decisions are decent, and strategy plays a good enough part to make it more than simple mindless fun.
Real knights play board games.
At first, Ivanhoe seems pretty simple and straightforward. But after a few rounds of play, some interesting strategies start to emerge.
Some spectacular battles can occur as the result of skillful timing and smart play. It's a truly gratifying moment when your opponent realizes you've outplayed him--initially picking a fight with a weapon you know he's strong in, purposefully luring him to play his strong supporting cards early, then shifting to another weapon where you hold the upper hand. If both players are equally skilled, an interesting game of cat and mouse emerges.
I've only had a chance to play this game with groups of 3 players, and we had great fun. Don't know how it will fare with more players.
If you don't take it too seriously, this game works fairly well. The cards are attractive but they are not as durable physically as other game companies' good, plastic-coated cards. For the money spent for this game, it should have physically better cards. The game is good though, and my six-year-old plays it (but needs help with the action cards). If a youngster can read, he/she can play this game.
I have to chime in. I'm sorry. I really can't help myself. I've been reading some complaints elsewhere on the net that have been hammering GMT and their entry into another game market!
Well, here's someone who has never bought a miliary simulation game that would not have bought a GMT game unless they expanded their game market! Bravo to GMT for trying to broaden their base appeal and for listening to their customers. The price was a little high--so they listened and lowered their prices!
As to the complaints that Ivanhoe has a randomness and luck element, please note, this is a card game and as such it will have randomness and luck involved. These are atrractive elements in a card game. And in case I'm wrong, I beleive military simualtions use dice as a random luck element?
As to Ivanhoe itself, it has become a great ice breaker. I have played with 3-5 players multiple times and have very much enjoyed every time I have played. I find the theme to be outstanding! The artwork is very good. This is a great package here.
So the long and short of it is that I will continue to purchase all of GMT's new [page scan/se=0876/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]European Game series and will support their product because they seem to be listening to us.
This GMT card game is a remake of Knizia's Attacke. Each player has a hand of cards representing strengths in different tournaments (colors). One player begins a tournament by playing a strength card, then other players must decide whether to play card to beat that value in the same color or skip the tournament (pass). Players still in the tournament continue to add strength cards or withdraw from the tournament until only one is left, and wins a chip in that color. In a five-player game, a player needs to win tournaments in four different colors to win the game. There are also action cards which allow various things (change the color of the tournament, steal cards from another player, discard played strength cards, etc.). 'Random' is the word of the day in this game, as there is no control at all in what cards you get, and the power of the action cards can be extreme; however, the game is attractive, has clean mechanics, and plays quickly. It's likely a love-it-or-hate-it title based on your amount-of-strategy taste.
This is another Knizia game brought to the U.S. by GMT. And though I really enjoyed GMT's Battle Line, I find this game lacking. Randomness is in ultra high gear. There are few strategies to employ, and for a game that claims 20-60 minutes, it's usually longer. Beautiful card art by Kurt Miller and all the rest of the pieces are first rate. This game simply doesn't have enough meat on it for a seasoned gamer and not enough excitement for the party game crowd.
Knizia has an uneven record. Some of his games (like T&E) are brilliant and some are poor. He seems to be cranking out lots of these filler games, and many are not very good.
Physically the game is beautiful, one of the nicest I've seen. Mark Simonitch and Kurt Miller have done a great job. The game itself is a luck-dominated one. You can try and manage your luck, but you don't have much control. Little interesting decision making, and it takes a while to play. Try Can't Stop instead.
I have to say I was a little disappointed with Ivanhoe--well, maybe a lot disappointed. Having only played it 3 times however, my opinion isn't entirely formed yet, but I suspect not much will change with subsequent playings.
I guess I just didn't like the chaotic nature of the game. It seemed difficult for me to employ any type of tactical or card management strategy because of the powerful special cards. You can never really count on anything--there are so many cards that can distort and alter your tournament numbers, that it seems foolish to feel confident about your display--you never know what can happen.
Some people like this factor in their games--I don't. I generally like to have a little more control over my games.
As Mike pointed out in the review below, military simulations do have the luck of the dice element--even the simpler ones like Axis and Allies. But to compare the luck in those types of games with the luck in Ivanhoe is like comparing apples to oranges--you just can't do it--it's not the same.
Basically the special cards in Ivanhoe ruin the game for me. They give you a sense of not having much control in the outcome--you don't even have the illusion of being in control. So you think you have won a battle? Wait a minute, I have a card that can take your 4 away from you and give it to me--that's an 8 point swing. Ooh, and here's another that will make all of your 3's disappear, and another that forces you to discard all of your purple cards, and another that gets rid of all maiden cards. So you really need that red chip? You've plannned and held cards for just the right moment? Great, it looks like you may win, but wait, I have a card here that changes the tournament to blue--so here, have a blue chip--hmmm... I'm sorry, you already have a blue chip.
So, in summary, if you don't mind playing a very light card game with an almost insurmountable amount of luck, then you may enjoy a few hands of Ivanhoe. For me, the game was way too long for what it was. There are just too many other great games out there for me to waste time playing a mediocre game.
By the way, I checked a gaming session on the WestBank Gamers website, and Greg Schloesser seemed to have the same feelings as me. Check out his session report before you decide to buy it--it's very informative. In fact, that report pretty much confirmed it for me--Ivanhoe will probably not hit the table again at my house.
GMT is a long-time wargame company that has produced many high-quality, but highly complex, games (Paths of Glory, Barbarossa: Army Group South, and For the People being some of the highlights). They have recently branched into the German games market with Galaxy, Battle Line (really Schotten-Totten), and this (which is really Attacke).
I'm not quite sure what GMT thought they might add to the already super-saturated genre of light card games, except possibly the exceptional graphic design and illustration talents of Kurt Miller and Mark Simonitch. Ivanhoe is a beautiful game, but it remains one with a very large luck element, not a whole lot of interesting decision making, too much uninformed guessing, and a high frustration factor if you don't get much in the way of useful cards or lose too many tournaments. It's also a bit too long to really be considered light. It's not bad, the decisions are occasionally interesting, but it's certainly not a thinking person's game.
Which leads to the real problem... for a Knizia game, it's solidly in the bottom half. Which means the GMT version is rather expensive for what you get. Despite the attractiveness of the game, it's not very good value for the money.
Hopefully in the future GMT will either focus on better small-box games or games more in tune with their company's strengths (Galaxy is both), and leave the light German-style card games to the German companies that already publish tons of them.
Back to the days of old and bold. Numbered cards in five colors represent different tournaments. Supporters increase your strength at tournaments. Actions represent the blows of Fate. Deal everyone eight cards. The active player chooses a tournament and lays down cards of its color. Supporters may accompany the cards. Others pass, or play cards that exceed the previous value. Highest total wins a token of the tournament's color. First to obtain sufficient tokens wins. Action cards can change the color of the tournament in progress, or spitefully affect cards played. I've an honorable affection for these brawls!
With the demise of Avalon Hill as an independent company, the field of wargame publishing has been left in the hands of the little companies, of whom GMT Games is probably the most interesting. This is in part because of their imaginative use of the Net. Recognising that the market for wargames is much shrunken from its seventies heyday and that it is all too easy for a small company to publish games on topics and in numbers that won't sell, they operate on a prospectus basis. When a designer offers them a game that they'd like to publish, they put a description on their "500" page and solicit advance orders. If 500 customers sign up for it, they go ahead and publish; if not, they don't. People who pre-order get the game at a discount if publication goes ahead and the company gets the reassurance that it is not talking to an empty room. Both sides win.
They have also begun to branch out from their wargames base. At the time AH went under, they were about to publish a "more whistles and bells" version of Titan: the Arena. This was picked up by GMT and appeared last Summer under the title Galaxy: the Dark Ages. Ivanhoe is the result of a similar process: take a simple Reiner Knizia game (in this case 'Attacke') and do some further development on it of the "extra detail" sort that you hope will make it more attractive to wargamers.
In its new guise the game is about jousting and the equipment consists of cards and tokens. Cardplay determines the result of each joust and the tokens are used as prizes. There are 110 cards of which 70 are colour cards (14 in each of 5 colours), 20 are supporter cards and 20 are action cards. The five colours represent five different types of combat: mounted, sword, axe, morningstar & unarmed and winning a joust is a matter of winning a trick in the appropriate colour. The ultimate aim is to win one in each colour (if you have 2 or 3 players) or in 4 of the 5 (if you have 4 or 5).
A trick begins with the winner of the previous bout deciding the colour for the new one. Play then proceeds clockwise, round and round, until the trick is won. On your turn you begin by drawing a new card and then have the choice of either playing cards or withdrawing from the contest. If you opt for the former, the cards must be either colour cards of the right colour, supporter cards or action cards. You may play more than one card if you wish. The colour and supporter cards have strength values and if you play cards, then at the end of your turn the total strength of the cards in front of you must be greater than that in front of any other player. If you can't (or don't wish to) achieve this, you must withdraw from the contest. The trick is complete when all players bar one have dropped out.
The action cards disturb the arithmetic by allowing players to do such things as change the "colour of the trick", cancel certain cards in other people's displays, steal cards and so on.
And that is all there is to it. For all the extra development work, this is still a simple, single mechanic game. Those of you who were worried that handing it over to a wargames company would result in combat result tables and injury factors needn't have. The yea or nay on this one doesn't turn on whether it is too complicated to be fun. Though it might on whether it is still too simple.
The use of cards to compete for prizes on a Poker-style "raise or quit, but if you quit you don't get your money back" basis is a mechanic that is also to be found in Taj Mahal and in Condottiere. However, both those games handle it in a way that I find more interesting, which leaves me wondering whether Ivanhoe is a game that I really need, particularly in view of the fact that the other two have extra strategic and tactical aspects to their structure, which Ivanhoe does not.
In the first of these, Taj Mahal, cards are a much scarcer resource than they are here; getting locked into a fight damages your prospects for future rounds; withdrawing early enables you to build your hand and take cards you want. There are also several items being competed for simultaneously, giving you choices on what to try for. It is a package that presents you with hard decisions and scope for the use of bluff and "my stack is bigger than yours" intimidation. Just like real Poker. In Ivanhoe, on the other hand, everything is all much simpler. Your hand size will only go down if you play more than one card in a round, which makes the decision on whether to hang in much less painful. Whether you withdraw in the first round or play one card in each of the first two rounds and then withdraw in the third doesn't much matter. Either way you end up with one more card than you had at the start. This means that the only important decisions you have to make concern whether or not to commit your more powerful supporter and action cards to this particular fight. Beyond that is mainly a matter of sitting there and hoping that you get good cards and that the combat colours chosen by other players are ones that suit your hand.
One could claim that a comparison with Taj Mahal is unfair: it is a gamers' game, Ivanhoe is not and so one should expect that even its subgames should be more substantial than Ivanhoe's whole. But that still leaves me with Condottiere, where the playing time is similar and where the card aspect is also much the greater part of the game. There too you have the mix of strength cards and action cards, but the scope for decisions on tactics and how best to use your cards is significantly greater, making for a much more interesting and entertaining game.
Two paragraphs on why you should play something else probably has you thinking that I consider the game to be bad. I don't: I just think it's rather average. The theming works well, with some nice tie-ins for some of the action and supporter cards, the components are good quality and the artwork is very attractive. The game also works. This may be minor Knizia, but it is still Knizia and Reiner's games work. And to that you can add the fact that even if I'm not that impressed, there are a fair number of people in the States who are. At the time of writing, the Funagain website has ten mini-reviews of the game and the average rating from these is an impressive 4.1 out of 5. I find this difficult to understand, but 20 million Floridans can't be wrong. Okay, bad example.