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The Traders of Genoa
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The Traders of Genoa

#6 ALBS, English language edition of Die Händler von Genua

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 60-120 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Rudiger Dorn

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Alea

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Product Description

The players take the roles of traders in Genoa. They fulfill orders, deliver messages, and take ownership of important buildings in the city. Of course, this is not possible without the help of the other traders. And that can cost money... and other valuable goods!

The game takes 7 to 12 rounds, depending on the number of players. In each round, each player takes one turn. On his turn, a player may move the trader tower through Genoa. By moving the tower, the players may visit up to 5 spaces, most of them buildings. In each building, specific actions may be taken. On a player's turn, he may take only one of the five possible actions. But, he can sell the other actions, at a reasonable profit of course, to the other players. If he sets the price too high, the other players will refuse to buy and the actions will remain undone. If he sets the price too low, the other players will rejoice and he will lose possible profits.

Through skilled negotiations, the players try to get the actions that will bring them the orders and messages they want, and then they will try to fulfill or deliver them quickly. Clever players will also find that the ownership of buildings and special cards can be very important.

At game end, the player with the most ducats is the winner!

Difficulty: 5/10

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2002
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2001
Deutscher Spiele Preis
3rd place, 2001

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Rudiger Dorn

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Alea

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 2001

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 60 - 120 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 906 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 1 game board
  • 40 ware markers (5 each in 8 colors)
  • 60 game cards:
    • 16 large Order
    • 16 small Order
    • 14 Message
    • 14 Privilege
  • 80 bank notes
  • 35 special markers
  • 28 special cards
  • 5 Trader Tower discs
  • 1 round marker
  • 2 8-sided dice

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.8 in 22 reviews

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It's always your turn -- brilliant, fun and exciting
January 06, 2004

On all levels, one of my very favorite games:

  • exciting (it's always your turn, see below for more explanations),
  • engaging (lots of decision-taking),
  • fun (plenty of discussions and negotiations),
  • and cooperative (the other players are your competitors, but not your ennemies).

For me, the key mechanism that makes this game so much fun is the following: on his or her turn, each player may determine a path consisting in five fields on the board. Most of the fields represent buildings in which different actions are possible. But the player-in-charge doesn't choose the five fields alone. He (or she) discusses the selection with the others and makes deals (you sell the actions that can be taken in the various places). In this way, it's always your turn. Everybody is always looking at the board and at her (or his) cards, trying to figure out and negotiate the best deal. A bit like Bohnanza.

If you don't have it already, don't wait any longer!

December 30, 2003

I approached this one somewhat cautiously, in response to all the mention of SO MUCH negotiation. But it turned out that I LOVED the negotiation, and it didn't nearly bog down the game like I thought it would. In fact, it turns out that negotiating IS the game. Take this simple test: when you play Settlers (if you don't, stop now and go play that first), do you consider 'the game' to be a) choosing the right places to build, b) getting lucky with the dice, or c) negotiating the best trades. With a group of experienced players, a) becomes pretty mechanical, b) is out of your control, and c) is what the game is really about. If you agree with that, you will love Traders of Genoa. If not, then you probably haven't played enough Settlers. :-)

The beauty of the negotiations in ToG is that they're all small ones. No (well, let's say very few) big hold ups working on the 'uber trade' like you can see in Settlers, or even Monopoly if you play that way. This game succeeds with gamers as well as the Monopoly crowd, as long as the Monopoly players accept that only the negotiation is the interesting part of Monopoly. Back to the point I was making... the negotiations happen every turn (multiple times per turn, actually), and are so small, that single deals aren't what make or break you (which tends to be case in Settlers when trying to make a sweet play and you don't want to want a whole 'nother round before getting to play again). It's all the negotiations added up which determine the outcome.

Two nice effects: 1) there's very little individual thinking time necessary, i.e. thinking of what you're going to do when it's your turn. 2) It's not obvious who is winning just from looking at the state of the game. Money is kept secret. You *can* gang up and spurn whoever you *think* is winning, but most people don't keep careful enough track, and often it ends up being a surprise who wins after the game is over. With all the money that changed hands during the game, it downright shocked us how close the game ended up, and how far behind the person who we all thought was winning actually was.

The only people I can imagine this not appealing to are people who only play games with no communication necessary (for the actual game play, not just social talk), like Chess, Go, Scrabble, etc.

I wasn't sure whether I would really like a game so heavily based on negotiation. Now I am.

Highly recommended.

Interesting game with unique features
November 07, 2003

Game can be played seriously or lightly.

The tower movement mechanism is very unique.

Playing time is not very long, compared to older negotiation style games.

Very hard to know or figure out what a fair trade is.

The two player version of the game is pretty decent.

I like negotiation games and this is one of the best out there. Even my wife likes to play this game.

Lots of negotiation
September 30, 2003

I must admit that I had some reservations about 'Traders of Genoa'. On one hand it had the elements I feel are necessary to be a great game, lots of options, lots of player interaction, and tough choices. On the other hand the game just seemed dry, and a shade too complex.

I am happy to report that my reservations were uncalled for. The game plays well and is not dry. Traders of Genoa is not as complex as the rules make it seem. (It suffers from 'Avalon Hill Syndrome', an intimidating rule book, but an experienced player can teach a new player in short order.)

However, I can foresee problems with the wrong assemblege of players. Lots of negotiation is required (that is the whole point of the game). The dynamics of a given group could make this game tedious. If one player doesn't like to negotiate and just rolls over for any offer to avoid the slightest confronation 'Traders of Genoa' would not be enjoyable. Likewise, an overly aggressive negotiator could make the game drag on for way too long.

All in all this is a great game. But, like any game, playing with the wrong players (and you know who you are) could ruin everyone's fun.

The Best Game I Have
August 12, 2003

Here in Mexico we cant find this kind of game. I buy it from Switzerland and first I found it very difficult, but with time I understand it and with friends play it. Is the best gameboard I have. We spend a lot of time play it and ever is different, because we all think different. It has to many ways to win and to practice how are you in trading actions!.

I recomend it very much!


Top Notch Trading Game with Possibilities Galore
March 27, 2003

Before picking up Traders I had a lot of worries in my head, this, more than any other Alea game, seems to have divided people, and there's very little middle ground to be had, people either love it or hate it.

During the initial playing I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to like it at all. The game was typical advanced strategy, full of dense possibilities and a bit overwhelming to boot. I won that first game narrowly, with only 20 ducats more than the last place about a photo finish...but I still wasn't sure what I did more effectively than my opponents, or what I thought of the game.

The game slowly grew on me though, to be sure, it has a single-minded dedication to negotiation that takes a bit of getting used to...especially if you're used to games that have less interaction, or that have more of a mix and match variety of aspects, but once you've gotten acclimated to the game that single mindedness helps makes it stand out.

Once I got used to the negotiation aspect I started to delve more into the game itself, and the options here are broad. You can go for small orders, large orders, privileges, messages, or combinations of any and all, which is normally the best way to go.

Some games it's possible to cash in a stack of small orders, others people aren't paying attention to the privilege cards, and sometimes you can just take control of several key buildings, and watch the ducats roll in. The amount of winning possibilities make this game hard to wrap your mind around at first, but give it high replay value.

I really like the special action chits as well, they allow you to break the rules in interesting ways (taking extra turns for instance, or trading in 1 of anything for 1 of anything else) and have made for some really nasty final turns in some of the games I've played where the tower player uses a 'Start Anywhere' tile, burns a few 'Extra Turn' chits, and suddenly has cashed in a few orders and manages to go from a weak position to a very strong one all in just one turn. Similarly you can really throw people for a loop with the 'Start Anywhere' chit when you advance the round marker unexpectedly by dropping the tower into the marketplace in the late game. The game is full of these little opportunities to be creative, and it definitely rewards players who are thinking a round or two ahead.

Another aspect I like is the concealed score, I don't mind games with scoring tracks, or other obvious score keeping mechanisms, but concealed scores help to insure that the 'kingmaker' problem isn't an issue with this title, and it makes the end game tense and exciting as everyone counts up their ducats.

A final aspect that I love about this game is the zero downtime factor. Most games allow you to have a bit of a breather on your opponents turns. Sure, you're paying attention to what you're doing, and trying to read them, but Traders completely turns the notion of the 'turn' on it's head with everyone being actively involved in every turn, regardless of who's in control of the tower. As a result, even though the game can play on the long side it seems to go by quickly as you're always doing something.

Caveats? Definitely a few.

For one, I play with a relatively laid back group. We've had a few disputes, but everything is generally pretty low key...I couldn't imagine playing this game with people who haggle ultra aggressively and try to plan out the entire course of the tower before doing a thing. Negotiation has to be relatively fast to keep the game running, so if you have several players prone to 'analysis-paralysis' then don't even consider Traders.

Also, as I've mentioned previously, the negotiation aspect is central to the game, so make sure that you like playing something like Settlers before you even consider picking up Traders.

Finally, as I alluded to earlier, be aware that this is on the longer side. I'd allot a good 2 hours for a seasoned group of 4, and your initial session is probably going to be significantly longer. This isn't a game that you're likely to play multiple times in a session as a result, but it's definitely a good meaty choice to lodge between lighter fare.

In conclusion, Traders is another fine Alea game. It's dedication to negotiation, while at first a bit overwhelming, now makes the game stand out to me. The winning strategies are abundant and this title is sure to see regular play for some time in my gaming group, they don't get much better than this.

Non-stop negotiation - not for wallflowers!
February 08, 2003

Traders of Genoa is an excellent trading game. However, one should caution those playing for the first time that they will need to be proactive in order to have a chance to win. Drawing from what has been written by previous contributors about the movement mechanics, trading mechanics, etc, this game boils down to wheeling and dealing in all manner to gain an edge over your opponents.

This constant interaction can be time consuming however, and I would strongly suggest that your group attempt to limit (in amount of time) the negotiation phases a bit. Since this is a game and not real life, maybe a 30 second bartering period would be sufficient for each major 'building step' the tower player is planning to take. Regrettably there is no easy answer to solve the time constraint problem, but my group thinks it necessary to enjoy the gaming experience. Besides, how much better a deal are you likely to get by 'yakking' or holding out for a few more ducats or trading good? Try to shave the fine edges a bit and I think you'll have fun.

We cannot wait to play again.

by Jake
One of the richest gaming experiences in two hours.
February 01, 2003

Games that offer the delightful element of negotiation are hard-pressed to make the dealing interesting. Not so with Traders of Genoa. The reason is that there is an immense number of items to be traded and their value is weighted differently for each player according to the players strategy in using the item. You have large orders, small orders, messages, privileges, money, and more. Variety and strategy combine beautifully here.

While Traders is often knocked for its long playing time (a healthy 2 hours), the length is variable according to the number of players and it is long enough for the development of different strategies. If people deal to get what they want rather than only holding out for that lop-sided deal where the other person gets ripped off there is no reason why games should clock in longer than 2 hours. As a general rule, dont play with stingy people if even that is too much for you.

The strategy isnt cloaked by any means. It takes some mental effort, but it's not hard to figure out. And when you do, the real fun is in executing that strategy. Only clever negoation and good judgement will keep your income rolling. Easily a gamers game.

The Essence of The Deal
September 24, 2002

Admittedly, Traders is not a great beginning game. The 'everybody on all the time' style of play is antithetical to most games. The multiple paths to victory are not immediately obvious. But it is these very things which make Traders so compelling. You always feel like you are still in the game.

A study in groupthink, Traders is wonderfully transparent. It is this very direct connection between players which may confound those looking for clear lines to victory. The closest you get is the priveldge cards. If someone gets the edge here, it will be hard for the rest to catch up.

Still, constant vigilance is awarded.

As you may imagine no two games of Traders are alike. Much has been made about the length of the game but through stategic play, the game can be made very tight. One location on the board, The Marketplace, simply reduces the game's duration by one turn. And in a game where every deal counts, this can make all the difference.

I have only played this game with three players so I cannot attest to how it works with more. And with a learning curve so intially daunting as the one presented here. But for my myself, it took one game to get the essence of what is going on.

Mastery is another thing entirely.

Quite simply, Traders is the most mature and deep game I've had the chance to play. While not as accessible as Puerto Rico, it more than makes up for it. Whereas Puerto Rico seems to lose some cohesion in its endgame, Traders is ever controlled. It is not over until the very end.

If there is a problem I have with Traders, it comes in presentation. I can accept the rather plain game board but the colors of the commodity blocks are a pain. But I have found this to be problematic with several games. I am color blind here people! Alittle more graduation in colors would be appreciated.

Still, I give Traders a very strong recommedation. It is a solid trade game with alot of flexibilty and buckets of interactivity.

An almost perfect gaming experience!
July 18, 2002

First of all, it's high time this game gets enough votes to sneak onto the Funagain Top 50 rated games.

Now for the game, be prepared to invest some time in learning the prepared to play a LONG prepared for a heated argument or two from players trying to make a trade, and be prepared for one of the most fun gaming experiences you will have.

Obviously, this game is for serious gamers (or people who simply love trading and negotiations) only. The length of the game (which we have always had come in well above the printed estimate) and complexities of each turn would drive away others.

So what do serious gamers get for their time and effort? Well, they get a game with endless strategic possibilities, unmatched player interaction, and plenty of laughs along the way. Playing 'Traders of Genoa' is almost an art form in that it allows each person to express their own personality. Are you the dominating type that ensures you get what you want (and pouts if you don't)? Are you the reticent type who holds back on most negotiations waiting for a perfect deal? Are you an aggravator who wants to drive up prices on other people in the hopes of seeing them fail? Are you the trusting sort who believes good deeds will not go unnoticed? What type of personality you fit into will effect how you play the game, and the beauty of it is that any of these types can win.

'The Traders of Genoa' never plays the same way twice, and you can choose many different paths to try to achieve victory (one good one seems to be sitting to my left). You can never look too far ahead, yet you almost always have some guidence for which moves you would like to make next. All of the buildings provide options that are great at times and useless at others, and you will constantly be surprised by opponent's moves...and, perhaps best of all, the deals you make are limited only by your imagination.

Do I have any complaints? Just a few. The board that came with my set is difficult to get to lay flat, and has had to be broken in like a baseball glove. Also, the game can simply be too long for some of the people I play with (I'm sure this has a lot to do with our style of negotiating.) All the other complaints I have had with the game have gone away after future playings.

This game is an original and reflects the excellence of the Alea 'small box' games that I have had the pleasure of playing. I highly recommend this game.

In my top 3 games period
May 09, 2002

This game is outstanding. I agree with the other reviewers thay say it may not be for everyone, as it takes a little while to grok the rules. But once I figured it out, I was hooked. The fact that EVERYTHING is negotiable is what works for me. It's always a little disappointing when a new Settlers of Catan player tries to trade a Development card for a wheat, or a prexisting road for someone elses brick and wood, and having to tell them it's against the rules.

To those who have it or soon will- one thing to watch out for. Every game I've played so far, the person who goes for the Privilege card strategy wins. It's an easy strategy to beat, just start taking cards, and don't give them to the one playing the stratgey. It tough though, because you don't want to waste your action persuing an action that isn't your focus. But if one person gets all 14 cards, fugetaboutit.

Anyway, this game is highly recommended if you have any pechant for negotiation.

by Dave
Truly a Great Game
April 18, 2002

Traders is one of those games that keeps everyone interested for the entire span of play. The game looks amazing from the well illustrated board and cards, to the small, colored wood cubes representing the different wares. Only the 'Monopoly' style money leaves a little to be desired in its overall appearance.

Game play is unique and combines the right mix of luck, strategy and negotiation. Turns are set up so that each player is involved in each turn. There is very little down time for each player since there is so much negotiating going on at any given time.

My only note against this game is that it runs a bit long. This is not a game that you can sit and crank out in an hour or so. Be ready to sit down and get your hands dirty with this one for a good amount of time. However, if you've got the time and the desire, Traders wont let you down and you'll find yourself having a lot of fun the whole way.

For hard-core gamers who love social interaction?!
April 16, 2002

Could this really be the market ALEA was shooting for? Strange. Anyhow, there are too many rules for non-gamers and the game play is too social for 'normal' hard-core gamers. So why did I give it five stars? Because I happen to be a hard-core gamer who loves being social! Weird, eh? Friends on both sides think I need to get my priorities straight. They are both right and yet the fact remains, this is a fantastic game.

It has a good theme, beautiful art, very little down time, many subtle strategies, and lots of quick negotiation concerning values that are very difficult to determine. I am sure I could play this game 10 more times and continually learn more about how to value items more appropriately. There is truly a lot of replay value to this game and it takes on a different flavor with each different group. It can be played cut throat and agressively and it can be played more casually and social. Learning how to adapt to the group is half of the key to victory. What a fantastic way to mix strategy, game knowledge, and social skills. I simply love it!

Interactive Game
January 31, 2002

This is a great game because evrybody is involved throughout the game. No boring wait for players waiting for sombody elses turn. There are several strategies to win and a brilliant thing is you may have a plan but the rule is be lucky adapt or lose.

Another interesting feature is that the length of the games is not fixed. Ab game for meddlers and fast talkers.

Completely ingenious... but not for everyone.
December 21, 2001

The look of this game appealed to me since I first saw it at Origins this past year at the Rio Grande tables. The artwork looked a great deal like [page scan/se=0899/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Princes of Florence, which is one of my favorite games of all time (come to find out later that both games utilize the wonderful Franz Vohwinkel).

Let me tell you, though, these games are as different as night and day. Princes of Florence relies on slight, subtle interactions between players; Traders of Genoa goes right for the throat. I absolutely adore this game, from its concept to its components to its gameplay.

Remember what I said in my summary line, though: it's not for everyone. As stated in previous reviews, if you have a difficult time negotiating with others, then this game won't be your cup of tea. Otherwise, you'll have a blast at this game, wheeling and dealing for the optimal trade.

I've heard some say that a negative aspect of the game is not knowing where you stand with respect to the other players. My argument is two-fold. First, if you're doing well in your own trades with others, then it's not really necessary to know where you stand through the game. Second, the same thing happens with a game of Acquire (i.e., cash counted at the end of the game) and I don't think I've ever heard a complaint about that... why complain with Traders? This game gets my highest recommendation.

Tricks of the Traders
October 03, 2001

In The Traders of Genoa, each player takes the role of a 'goods runner' in the bustling streets of 16th century Genoa, Italy. The object here is simply to make more money than anyone else. However, the brilliance in the game design is that you must rely on everyone else to help you win the game; it is entirely impossible for anyone to win Traders of Genoa without giving in to the unspoken interdepence all players in the game have with each other.

By drawing cards for large orders, small orders, and messages, you are 'commissioned' by a certain building in the city to fulfill a task. On the order cards, you may have to deliver up to three different varieties of goods (such as wheat, copper, and rice) to a single household. Each card also lists the 'payment' for completing a commission; a simple delivery of a message to a building may only earn 30 ducats, while the fulfillment of a large order to Villa Ricci will earn you 100 ducats and a Special Card.

About the Special Cards: Traders of Genoa is one of those few games where every Special Card is indisputably useful, particularly the card that allows you to take one extra action. The extra action card comes in handy because on a player's turn, they can only perform one 'action' for themselves. An action can be drawing a card, delivering goods, etc. However, since a player has up to five spaces he can move to on a turn, he can travel throughout the city, and visit places where he can fulfill the actions of the other players. Therefore, much of the game is spent negotiating with the 'tower player' (the person who is taking their active turn) to get them to perform one of your actions. The tower player will entertain offers and negotiate with the other players. Agreements can be made in forms of cards, goods, and money; there is pretty much no limit on negotiation. And it is, again, impossible to do well in Traders without negotiating. Sure, the tower player may be asking a ridiculous price to deliver your large order, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

Ultimately, Traders feels very suspenseful, because players tend to feel a mad desperation for money. Since there are so many ways to earn money, through negotition, order fulfillment, message delivery, building control, etc., you're constantly on the lookout for the most potentially rewarding opportunities to turn a profit. You spend Traders trying to get money any way you can, and the not-always-set-in-stone turn limit makes you wary; you have to be bold and get money before it's too late. Traders is an excellent social experience for gamers looking to haggle and negotiate for a couple of hours.

Who Woulda Thought Trading Was So Fun?
September 25, 2001

The only thing I can say about this game is it deserves all 5 stars, or rather it EARNED them. I can't find a thing wrong with it. A well rounded, highly interactive game that allows for many options for every player every turn.

I like games that eliminate most of the luck and reward player skill and daring. Traders achieve this in a well thought out game. The previous reviewers tell the story, so I won't go on.

Great game...

Great dealing game for gamers
September 17, 2001

Alea continues to blow me away with the quality of their games, and The Traders of Genoa is perhaps the best entry in an outstanding line.

The cool thing about the Traders of Genoa is that there is a huge variety of ways in which the game can be won. All of the different items you can win in auctions can be combined in different ways to produce winning strategies, whether you go for large contracts, small contracts, postal routes, or Privileges. All of the 'supplemental' tiles (free actions, building ownership, etc.) are extremely useful. Plus you have to balance your turn between using your control to acquire the items you need and making the most money in deals off your fellow players. The game as a whole is amazingly well balanced, with no particular aspect too strong or weak.

Genoa also achieves a very fine balance between strategic and tactical play. On the one hand, you absolutely have to have some kind of a plan to win; on the other hand, if you don't remain flexible, you'll be hosed by the whim of the dice and the other players.

All this good stuff, and the game is *fun*, too. You get to try to cut any manner of deals with all your fellow players; the game strongly encourages deal-making, since it's set up to prevent you from getting even a fraction of what you need on your own turn. The game is good looking, and just the right length.

For my money, this is the best game of 2001 so far and highly recommended. My main advice is to make sure you play it at least twice. Most people I know (including myself) have not necessarily been hugely impressed the first time out, but it grows on you dramatically starting with the second playing. There is a great deal of subtlety to explore here.

Trader Heaven
July 18, 2001

All games are based around some type of mechanic, some basic underlying theme that dictates how the game is played. Some are war games where you try to destroy your enemy. Others are race games, where you try to reach the end before someone else does the same. There are probably only a dozen or so basic types of games, with each game being a permutation of the basic archetype.

One of the somewhat less common archetypes is the trading game. These games make player interaction an important part of the game, as players make deals with one another for various commodities. The most well-known game of this type is probably The Settlers of Catan, in which players trade various commodities in order to buy upgrades for their network of towns and roads. Two lesser-known games take the trade mechanic and take it to the next level, as the entire game is based on deal-making, namely Die Handler and Chinatown. Both are excellent games.

This similarly-named game, Die Handler von Genua, or the Traders of Genoa, ups the ante even further. In this game, almost every aspect of the game is considered a commodity and is therefore open to trade. This makes the deal-making almost limitless in its potential.

The game is set in the city of Genoa sometime in the Rennaisance, with players taking the part of merchants in the city. The city consists of 18 buildings, various streets, and a marketplace, all portrayed on a handsome gameboard. Each building has an associated action which can be taken by a player during a turn, even on another player's turn. These actions vary greatly, from acquiring various commodity tokens (such as copper or salt), to acquiring special cards, to establishing ownership of other sites in the city.

On a player's turn, they take the tower of five wooden chips and place it on a randomly selected board space. The player can only take one action during his turn, but is able to sell off actions to other players. One chip is left in each space as the tower makes its way through the buildings and streets at the whim of the player. The player can accept bribes to visit various spaces and allow another player to take the action for that space, or can take the action herself. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

So much can happen in this game on a single turn. One player may deliver a message for a small purse of ducats. Another player may fulfill a large contract which earns a hundred ducats and a special card. Another player might take possession of buildings along the road in hopes of using their activities later in the game. Another player may acquire a couple 'hard goods' in order to fulfill a contract later in the game. All the while the main player is accepting bribes from the other players for moving the tower to desired spaces.

This game is not for everyone. It is ideal for those who like a fast-paced, social game. While this game will work with as few as two players, it is suggested that either four or five be involved in order to get the full impact of the game.

This game is easily the best 'hard' trading game I have ever seen. While it did not win the Spiel des Jahres this year, it should be a frontrunner for the upcoming Deutscher SpielePreis, the award given for the German strategy game of the year.

Highly recommended for social gamers with strong bartering skills.

by Tom
Best with 5 players
March 28, 2004

We first played this last weekend with 5 of us and we had a blast. It was chaotic, it was exciting, and it was fun. The tower player was constantly being pulled in 4 different directions. The haggling and wheeling and dealing was non-stop. None of us even really knew if we were getting the best deal; we all just enjoyed being part of the action. Every tower movement and action came at a steep price, and the multiple offers given were often so varied, it was nearly impossible to gauge what the better deal would be. Also, there was really no down time between turns because everyone played such an integral part of every turn. I would literally jog into the kitchen to get another beer because I didnt want to miss out on a good deal. The game took about 2 and a half hours and we were all sorry to see it end. What a perfect game night!

With that said

The very next day, three of the five of us got together again to play because we enjoyed it so much the night before. The 3-player experience was not nearly as fun. I think its because the chaos factor was gone. Everything became more predictable and mechanical. There was a surplus of actions so they went cheap. As a result, the haggling and wheeling and dealing aspect of the game was greatly diminished. 5 ducats for an action was quite common simply because there were no other offers on the table. That never happened the night before. The game still had strategy but it was no longer exciting. I guess the best comparison I could give is Pit (the card game). Pit is a great game with 8 players and a lousy one with 3 players because it requires the constant chaos of deals flying left and right to be stimulating. That, of course, is the extent of the similarities between Traders of Genoa and Pit.

So, in conclusion, this game can be a lot of fun but it comes with requirements:

1) You need 4 or 5 (preferably 5) people to make it work.

2) Every player needs to be ready and willing to negotiate their butts off for 2 hours straight.

If you have those two ingredients then this game will not disappoint.

A fun game with a few flaws
March 13, 2003

This game is one of the deeper German games I have, but its not too complex as to be menacing. The components are nice though I find the blocks to be too similair in color sometimes, and some of the cards have the german print in the background. 2 things to keep in mind about this game is that you need to the right crowd who actively participate in negotiation, and you this game is really meant to be played with 5 people. With 5 people negotiation for actions is much more fierce especialy since the end can come swiftly with the shortened number of rounds in a 5 player game. In the end its another strong Alea title thats a lot of fun with the right group.

by Adam
Ever bought a carpet in Morocco?
October 19, 2002

I initially found Traders of Genoa similar in design to Princes of Florence. Instead of bidding and presenting professions, however, you negotiate and present orders or messages.

The big problem I have with Traders of Genoa is that you never know where you stand with other players.

When they are negotiating for the right to buy an action, you are never sure if they want to simply perform that action or deliver their order or message (resulting in lots of money). There is little you can do to prevent other player's from doing so. If you are suspicious and try to make them pay more money or trade valuable commodities they simply refuse until you must accept the obligatory $5 or they use an any start space special card on their turn.

There isnt any advantage in stalling negotiations. I found the game comes down to lucky rolls of the dice for the placement of the trading tower and fortunate card pick-ups. I felt no satisfaction when the game was over, even when I won.

Negotiations are an overly repetitive process which, compounded with the length of the game (two hours +), makes Traders of Genoa painfully tedious at times.

Although this is one of my least favourite Euro-style games, I can understand why other gamers like it. There are many strategies you can employ to win (the large order strategy, the privilege strategy, etc) and some people just love the intricacies of negotiation.

Personally, I found it similar to buying a carpet in Fez. You know you're going to get ripped off no matter how good the deal sounds and you have to put up with hours of exactly the same sales pitch from 40 different dealers.

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