The Market of Alturien
English language edition of Der Markt von Alturien; new version of City
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The medieval marketplace of Alturien is awash in intrigue and action. As many as 6 different merchant families compete in a merciless trade battle. All seek wealth, influence, and power.
In Alturien, your merchants vie for the attention of 7 unique trader customers of varying wealth. They stroll the market, while you entice them to ignore your rivals and buy your wares. Using your income, you build new trading halls and create your own mercantile empire.
But beware! One of the customers is "Gustavo the Weasel"! He steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Watch out if you're prosperous, for Gustavo is a wily crook! If you're the first merchant to acquire sufficient wealth and 3 prestigious prizes, you rise to a noble rank and win the game!
- 20 Hexagonal Business tiles
- 7 Figures: 6 Customers & 1 Thief
- 72 Buildings (6 Colors)
- 14 Prestige Cards
- 12 Investment Cards
- 6 Market Leader Cards
- 1 City Guard Card
- 70 Bills Currency
- 6 Game summaries
- 2 Special Dice
Average Rating: 2.5 in 1 review
There was a time in which Mayfair was known for games that had decent components, but nothing spectacular, and often lower than most other companies. That certainly isn't the case these days, and in fact has wildly swung to the other end of the spectrum with some of their games – notably in the game The Market of Alturien (Mayfair Games, 2007 – Wolfgang Kramer). The Market of Alturien comes in an oversized box, with a huge board and beautiful artwork and pieces – all on top of a fairly simple game, making it larger than life.
Make no mistake – the Market of Alturien is a fun, but fairly simple and slightly chaotic game. I call it the "euro" version of Monopoly, as players own property and get paid when customers land on them. The game offers enough strategic choices to be vastly interesting to younger folk – especially teenagers, but the game is probably too light for most people and doesn't offer enough return on the effort. The game moves along at a reasonable clip and then suddenly snowballs to a quick ending. I enjoyed the game; it makes me think, but it just leaves me unfulfilled. I think I'll leave it in my "teenager game club only" pile.
The board shows the market of Alturien, which is made up of several paths that circle and interest each other. Each space has a matching stall of one of six colors (red, green, yellow, blue, brown, and white). Most spaces are white, but corners and intersections are colored black. Players take turns placing one gold customer, two silver customers, and three bronze customers on different intersections, facing down one of the paths. Piles of money ("Real") are placed by the board, and each player takes six of them as well as a pile of twelve trade houses of their color. Players take turns placing out four of their trade houses – each on an empty stall (but only one on a black space). If any players have two or more stalls of the same color AND have more than any other player, they receive the market leader card of that color. One player is chosen to go first, and then the game beings.
On a player's turn, they first roll one die ("1", "2", "3", "4", "5", "1-3") and move one of the customers on the board that many spaces exactly. Customers cannot land on another figure, and cannot change direction, except at any intersection. The customer who moved then pays the player who owns any trade houses at the market stall. The formula for determining how much the player gets is the customer value times the number of trade houses on the stall.
- The copper customers are worth "1."
- The silver customers are worth "2."
- The gold customer is worth "3."
The customer pays whoever owns the space, regardless of whose turn it. However, if any customer is on a black space that the current player owns, they also pay out – even if they didn't move this turn. Players receive income, and then, may buy one investment.
- 3 Reals for another trade house in a normal space
- 5 Reals for another trade house in a black space
- 2 Reals to add a trade house on top of one they already own.
- 3 Reals to add a trade house on top of others in a black space
- 2 Reals to move a trade house on top of another market space they own
- 12 Reals for a Prestige Card
As soon as one player has a total worth of 10 Reals or more (including Prestige cards they own), the thief figure is placed on the center space of the board, and the Guard card is given to the poorest player. From now on the thief can be moved instead of a customer and has a value of "-2". The player with the guard card is immune from the thief. If anyone loses money because of the thief, they then receive the guard card if they are not currently the wealthiest player. Also, if a player ever gains more properties of a color group than another player, they gain the market leader card for that color.
In the "advanced" game, players also can buy an investment card on their turn if they want (two cards maximum).
- Ship (7 Reals) – increases the value of customers by one for that player.
- Business Office (7 Reals) – the player acts as if they have one extra trade house on all their properties.
- Wagon Maker's Shop (5 Reals) – the player may add one to their die roll.
- Additional Workers (5 Reals) – the player may roll two dice and choose between them.
The game continues until one player owns three prestige cards, at which point they win the game!
Some comments on the game...
- Components: This game is amazing in how it looks. But is it too
good? The board is gigantic, with at least seven to nine centimeters
of extra space on all sides. This is covered with beautiful artwork
of a town's buildings, really helping to enhance the feeling that this
is an ancient marketplace; but it also makes the board gigantic, when
in reality smaller spaces and perhaps less artwork might have made the
game a bit easier to fit on a table (I can't believe I'm saying this!)
The trade houses are bright colors and are almost jarring against the
very nice background, but they stack easily and are easy to use. I
really enjoy the different customers (and thief); they are large
plastic models that are not only different colors but different sizes
(and apparently the larger the hat they wear; the less they spend.)
The cards are full size and easy to read; but the weak part of the
game is the paper money, which is about as boring and low quality as
you can get. A draw bag is included, but I don't know why – to store
the trade houses? Everything fits inside a long flat box that is
really larger than it needs to be (the large board folds up into six
sections), making it hard to store. Sure, this game is going to catch
your eye – but why must it be so big? A big game should be a
grandiose game, Alturien is not grandiose.
- Rules: I can't believe there are basic rules included with the
game – I've never played with them, if only because the so-called
advanced rules are really simple. I can teach the game very quickly,
showing a few examples of how the pricing formula works. I was able
to teach a group of teenagers and leave them playing the game, and
everything was fairly intuitive from the clear game summary cards to
the arrows on the customers' feet that show which direction they are
headed in. A simple game to teach.
- Simplicity: This may be one of the game's biggest problems.
Anyone who has played Colosseum will note that the mechanic in this
game is fairly similar, which makes sense, since Wolfgang Kramer
designed both. Alturien is a reworking of an older Kramer game City
(1988), and it might feel a bit slow when compared to newer designs.
Players have decisions on their turn, but it's a decision to move one
guy (out of six or seven); and while counting it up and peering at the
board, the game slows down to what really amounts as a simple
decision. That's why I won't play without the advanced game;
otherwise, Alturien feels like it's too easy.
- Buying: One thing that I do enjoy about the game is the choices a
player has when buying. A player can only buy a single thing each
turn – but what should it be? One wants to get investment cards as
quickly as possible, so that they have maximum effect, but which ones?
We argue over whether the extra die or the adding of one to a roll is
better, but in reality they seem very similar. But should you add
more markets to increase the chance of customers landing on your
properties, or increase specific markets to make them extremely
valuable? Players can even form a nice combo with the cards if they want.
- Strategy: I mentioned the combos of cards, but players also have
to decide where the best locations are. Should they concentrate on
one section of the board, or spread out? How important is it to have
a monopoly of one color? Where should players send the customers?
These are all simple decisions, but they are varied; and players have
a great deal of freedom.
- Luck and Interaction: The problem with the strategy for this game
is that much of it is foiled by the luck of the game. You can set up
as many trade houses as you want; but if the dice don't favor you, no
money will come your way. More than luck, players can foil each
other; and in a large game, with five or six players, one player can
be completely left in the fold. A two player game has perhaps too
little interaction; and one player may be able to get several
customers on black spots, while the opponent can only move off one per
turn. I enjoy the game, but it's very difficult to overlook the fact
that strategy will take you only so far.
- Fun Factor: Players get a kick out of moving the thief on
someone's expensive market, or moving the gold customer in the
opposite direction from them. Buying and building houses is also
quite intuitive and fun for folks; and since players only have twelve
of them, they have to decide where best to put them. Decisions are
varied, but easy; and as long as you don't mind luck and chaos (in
games with four or more players), The Market of Alturien could be
I can't help but compare this game to others; and The Market of Alturien, while a stunning looking game, simply isn't as good. It sounded good on paper, but the game itself follows similar patterns each time, not giving me enough interest to keep playing it. Teenagers enjoy the game – it's a faster, more interesting, slightly kinder type of Monopoly. Adults, on the other hand, will likely be bored by the game, once they get past the initial wow factor of the components. The Market of Alturien is a visual feast with easy, simple choices. It's just not very filling.
"Real men play board games"