Monday, March 26, 2018

No Bull--Istanbul is a Great Game

A good Euro-game can take you places, and Istanbul is a good Euro game. As you play, it’s easy to imagine yourself a wealthy merchant bustling through the crowded bazaar of Istanbul. You have assistants who follow in your wake, and you leave them behind to finish up your purchases. Your assistants are so invaluable to you that you can’t really do a thing without them. And so, with no cell phones, it’s often necessary to meet at the village fountain to regroup.

Here you are with your assistants.

And here, at the fountain, regrouped and
 ready to roll. 

Your goal is to acquire more stuff, rubies especially, but there are other merchants there, pursuing those same ends. You'll have to hurry to get the best deals before your competitors snatch them up.

Your cart will be useful in your quest. With it, you keep track of your goods and the rubies you've bought. And, it's expandable. You can pay the wainwright to make it even bigger.  

The cart is one of the more clever ways we've seen to track resources in a game. And it's just one of several cool components in Istanbul. All of these cool components add to the immersive feel of the game, as does the lushly illustrated board.

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The board is made up of sturdy tiles that can be moved around to create various different layouts, a nice feature that adds to replayability. There's also a 2-4 player variant of the game, which increases replayability as well.

With all of these good things going for it, Istanbul can't help but be a pleasure to play. Even one of our next generation likes it, and she's not a game-lover.  

If there's any caveat, it's that you'll need some extra time for setup. But even that is forgivable. It's a bazaar, after all, and bazaars should be a bit of a chore to put up. Even in that way, this game is immersive.

I’d like to go to the real city, someday, and visit a bazaar there. But I doubt I'd still find carts in use and rubies for sale. I’ll have to settle for this game, then. It’s almost as good as a plane ticket there, with the added bonus of a trip back in time.

# Players . . . 2-5
Ages 14 and up (so says the box. I'd say 12, maybe lower depending on the kid)
Game time . . . . . . . .40-50 minutes
Set up . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 minutes
Luck . . . . . . . . ..8 . Strategy
*Interplay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Visual Appeal . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5
Component Quality . .. . . . . 9
*Replayability . . . . . . . . . . . 8.5

*See "How we Rate" for a definition.

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