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from 2 customer reviews
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Come into the world of traders and caravan drivers! Your adventure will lead you to the premier hubs of trade in Asia, where lucrative deals await you. The first to arrive earns the most gold. Clever tactics and planning help get you to the head of the caravan for success.
Players: 2 - 5
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Weight: 1,032 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 multiple languages (including English).
- 1 game board
- 5 playing figures
- 5 merchant cards in 5 colors
- 40 trading goods cards
- 15 caravan cards
- 36 gold chests
Average Rating: 3.5 in 2 reviews
Be warned that this is no gamer's game. That having been said, it's certainly high-quality filler, which definitely has a place in my heart and in my collection. I feel like a heretic in saying so because, at a recent convention where I was introduced to it, this game drew plenty of criticism and inspired many upturned noses. I liked it, though, and my only concern is that it'll have a fairly high price tag for what it is.
Marco Polo is a basically a racing game in the same vein as, say, Cartagena, although the first to the finish is not necessarily the winner because, ultimately, it's all about getting points.
Players move camels across the board by playing whatever cards are demanded by the next free space. (It may be cards of all one color or all different colors; it may be cards showing one type of good or only showing caravans.) Importantly, camels leapfrog over those in front of it, so timing is important. You may want to race out in front because being the first player to reach some open spaces acquires points in the form of a treasure chest. On the other hand, blowing a large hand of cards to get there may simply create the opportunity for others to leap gracefully past with a less demanding set of cards. It's not a bad idea to acquire a couple of sets of cards so you can not only move out front but then move on (you can move as many spaces as you can pay for with cards) to create a gap between you and your nearest competitor, so you don't share the wealth of your own card play. Players may then be forced to move over gaps with cards or by paying precious point to do so. On the other hand, the longer you wait to play, the more likely it is that someone else will play cards to take the space, leaving you with a set of cards that is now more or less useless because the next available space (and its requirements for card play) has just changed.
So the game is quite a nice mixture of set collection, bluffing and timing decisions. Moreover, at the end of each turn, you choose a new card from an open selection or a blind draw Alan-Moon style. In this manner, you can gain some information about your fellow players' plans, as you can from the sheer number of cards in their hands.
As I mentioned, points can be acquired along the way by being the first to land on a space harboring a treasure chest. But additionally, there are two scoring phases to the game, one occurring halfway through, and the other when a player reaches the finish line. Each time, players score points depending on their current placement on the track. The closer you are to the scoring space, the more points you get. At the halfway point, the camels are repositioned on the same square, giving lagging players better footing for the second half of the race.
All in all, it's a very fun and fast-paced family game with very attractive bits. I am glad I own it, and it will see a lot of play as a warm-up game or closer. If you're looking for a serious or weighty game, though, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
I had an opportunity to play this game recently and wasn't too impressed with it. In the game, you are racing the other players on the board. The person who gets to certain spaces first will be able to take any victory points on that space. You move from space-to-space by playing certain combinations of cards from your hand. For example, you may need three-of-a-kind to move onto one space, while the next may require four cards of the same color. Since only one player may be on any give space, you can easily jump to the front of the pack if you have the right cards. Likewise, if you get behind, you're going to have to spend a lot of cards to catch up.
The biggest problem with this game is that it relies too heavily on luck. If the cards you need to play don't come up, then there's little you can do except to continue to draw until you get what you need. If a player moves, the board situation can change dramatically (for example, if s/he moves onto a space you were saving for). During the game, I frequently became bored and frustrated when I was unable to get the cards I needed.
The art on the board and cards is beautifully done and adds a lot to the flavor of the game. Without it, I would have rated this game only 2 stars.
All-in-all, this is a pretty basic game and the nicest thing about it is that it can be played without a huge time commitment (in the words of another reviewer, it's nice filler).