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!
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 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.
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).
The game continues until one player owns three prestige cards, at which point they win the game!
Some comments on the game...
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"