I decided to do something new this year and every first Saturday of the month I talk about one of the games on my shelf. I go into brief details about it for no particular reason, mostly because these are widely known and played. I think it is just another way for me to keep records.
There is only one reason that I would not recommend this to a wider audience, it is designed to be played by two players and two players only.
I must also admit to being mildly uncomfortable with the appropriation of a place by people who are definitely not from the city or country, but the longer I have been playing board games, I have realised that this is not an isolated incident, and the ‘theme’ of games are chosen more due to the mechanisms and storyline that they want the players to follow.
This is a simple game to introduce, teach and play. There are three rounds, and it is a best of three (a throwback to my college times where I tried to use that to my advantage) situation.
There are six types of goods to be traded, of varying value and availability. Three of these can only be traded when you have collected a minimum of three; the rest do not have such holdups. There is a hand limit, and then there are the camels. Camels are wilds that stay out in the open, do not count towards your hand limit and can be used to trade for the actual goods in the market. The person with the most camels at the end gets a bonus.
We begin with five cards in the market (three of them have to be camels). If you want to take only one good, you can (and then replenish). If you want more than that, you can give an equal number of cards to the market, and swap/trade them out. The actual trading for money gets decreasingly advantageous with every trade of this type.
So essentially, you have to play a very nuanced game of waiting and/or making a move in such a way that you are left with the upper hand. There is an additional bonus for making a bigger trade in one move. The minute the money(points) for three goods is over, the round is as well. This timer works well in keeping it swift.
I didn’t really need to go into the rules because it is a popular game, and the rule book works well. I still did it because these mechanisms are what make the game tick. There is no extra emotion or story in the box. You can put the cards and tokens in a small bag and even carry them for travel. When we first got it, we played it quite often. Its appeal has waned, but since it only needs a quick refresher, it is not a bad bet to suggest on game night!