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Subject: The only carpet-laying game on the market? rss

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Stefano Castelli
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Rome
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Games like Marrakech are very dangerous. Be honest: you bought Cleopatra and the Society of Architects right at the moment when you saw its bits. And you automatically pre-ordered Nexus Ops right after you looked at a photo with lots of colored plastic aliens. The call of the cool and strange bits is powerful, you know. So, you'll probably be charmed by Marrakech as soon as you realize that the carpets used in the game are real carpets. I mean, small cloth pieces with a carpet-like motif printed on them. In four different colors. Lots of them! Yet, you could still resist to purchase it. I mean, until you see Assam. The large wooden pawn, with fez and mustaches. At that point, the purchase is done.

Luckily, along with the nice bits, you also purchased a very nice game.

The main mechanic is very simple: in every turn players has to decide the direction Assam is facing on the board (by leaving him looking straight or turning him 90degress left or right - no 180° turns) and then throw a special dice which will define how many steps the fezzed friend will move on the board. If Assam ends his walking on someone's else carpet, the player who moved it (him?) has to pay money to the carpet's owner, in the amount of adjacent market squares covered by the carpets of the same color.

At the end of Assam movement, the player can then place one of its carpets on the ground, even covering parts of other player's carpets. In about two turns you'll probably have learned how to play even if the last boardgame you've played in your life is Snakes & Ladders. It is really that easy.

Yet, it is terribly fun, because players have to carefully place their carpets trying to create large patterns on the board and eventually foresee Assam's path in the next turns.

When the last carpet is put on the board the game ends, players count their money and add them an amount based on the squares covered by their own carpets: the player with most coins is the winner.

There are not much different strategies in the game and there is no much deep: we are talking about a quick (40-45 minutes with 4 players) and easy game.

My main recommendetion is to avoid playing it with 2 players: even if the number of available carpets is raised when playing in 2, the game loses some interaction and becomes a bit boring.

Otherwise, when played with 3 or - at best - 4 players, Marrakech really shines as a middle-weight filler with excellent bits and high accessibility.

I rate it seven ninjas out of ten, although you can raise it to eight if you consider the carpets as small tatamis (ninjas love tatamis!).
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The Bottom Line: Very nice bits, easy rules, nice gameplay, high interaction between players, fair balance between tactics and luck. Almost a push-your-luck game. And lots, lots of carpets! Just don't play it in 2.
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Fabien Conus
Switzerland
Geneva
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I totally agree with you.

In addition, the very simple rules make this a very good game for non-gamers and for kids.
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Stefano Castelli
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FabienC wrote:
I totally agree with you.

In addition, the very simple rules make this a very good game for non-gamers and for kids.


Yup, works great as a hook for non-gamers.

It hypnotizes them with the bits and then grabs them with the rules. Under this aspect is a perfect gateway game.
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Diz Hooper
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Great review! It makes it hard to resist getting this one.
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