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Through the Desert
 
 
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Through the Desert


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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
14+ 45 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Publisher(s): Z-Man Games, Asmodee North America

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  • WARNING: Choking Hazard - Small Parts

Product Description

Each player attempts to score the most points by snaking caravan routes through the desert, trying to reach oases and blocking off sections of the desert. Many people feel that it is reminiscent of Go.

Publisher's Description From the award-winning game designer Reiner Knizia comes a game of strategy, patience, and cool plastic camels! The desert is still treacherous, mysterious, and without mercy. But for those willing to risk the dangers of the shifting, sun-baked sands, the desert holds riches beyond compare. In Through the Desert, two to five players each control a tribe of nomads vying for control of the desert. By establishing caravans and taking over oases, the players gain points as their tribes increase in power. Strategy is essential in deciding how and where to build your tribe's caravans. There are multiple ways to gain points and several ways to win. Should you try to build the longest caravan? Or should you dominate the desert's oases? Don't forget to keep an eye on your opponents' caravans, or you may find your own tribe cut off from valuable water holes.

Through the Desert is part of the so called Knizia tile-laying trilogy.

Product Awards

Product Information

Product Reviews

Neil Wilson
July 31, 1998

Durch die Wüste is Knizia's game of deserts, camels and water. The game comprises a hexed board showing the desert, camels in 5 pastel colours, oases and various waterholes. In a nutshell, the game is one of placing camels to score points by connecting to oases or waterholes, encompassing areas and having the longest chain of camels in a colour.

To set up, each player is given a brown camel with a rider of his chosen (primary) colour on it and one camel of each of the 5 pastel colours, also with a rider of his colour on it (the 'camel-rider'). First, the oases, represented by palm trees, are placed on the board. In the final reckoning, having a camel adjacent to a palm tree scores 5. Next place the waterholes. These vary in value from 1 to 3 and should be distributed randomly on marked hexes. Having set up the board, each player takes it in turn to place one of their 5 camel-riders on the board until they have all been placed. This initial placement is subject to a few restrictions, namely that you may not place a camel next to an oasis, nor may you place a camel next to a camel of the same colour. From then on, players take it in turn to place any two camels so that they are connected to their camel chain of the same colour, ensuring that camel chains belonging to different players never come into contact. Effectively each player (and his primary colour camel-riders) ends up with one chain of camels in each of the five pastel colours and it must be obvious which camel belongs to which player. Placing a camel on one of the six spaces round a palm-tree gives 5 points for each player achieving this, while the waterholes score from 1 to 3 points but only for the player who places the camel and then removes the waterhole. The game ends when all camels of one colour have been placed. Then it's time for the reckoning. As said, an oasis is worth 5 for each chain connected to it, waterholes are from 1 to 3, longest chain per colour scores 10. For areas enclosed you score the number of unoccupied hexes within that area and also get any waterholes within it. Most points wins.

When I first got the game, read the rules and then played by myself, the immediate comparisons were favourably with Shark, Acquire and Manhattan but with fewer placement restrictions (there's even more than a hint of Blazing Camels/Wurmeln in it). I thought then that the greater flexibility would make it a better game but I can't help feeling now that it doesn't. If my group plays again, we reckon we'll probably start imposing some limitations such as drawing 5 camels unseen from a bag and having to play 2 of those. Having said that, while this game may not have the depth or complexity of Tigris, it is good, quick, fun and to be recommended.

SWD: The trouble with that as a variant, Neil, is that it loses one of the game end conditions -- the one which says that the game ends when one of the colours has been exhausted. In our games, that has been the condition that has actually finished the game and this has added quite a lot to the tactics.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
John McCallion
December 31, 1999

I didn't know what to make of the gaudy, toylike little camels when I first saw them. But I soon fell in love with this delightful territorial game, in which 170 camels and 30 camel riders roam a desert in search of oases, water holes, and space. After camel riders are placed strategically on the board, preferably near the point-scoring oases, the battle continues as you place your other camels to build caravans connected to your riders. Caravans cannot cross each other, so you will aim to create the largest ones possible to surround the greatest areas of territory, and thus earn points. Reaching water holes also earns points, and deprives others from getting there. The player with the highest score after the last camel is placed wins.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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