Tom, Annie and Carlos played the latest Kennerspiel des Jähres, Istanbul.
This game is a race to collect 5 rubies the quickest possible and it became apparent that having played it before gives you that focus you need to do well in a race type of game as Annie won with ease.
She always had plenty of lira (Turkish currency), goods and actions, so she won.
Tom and I struggled behind.
I had particularly appalling luck with the dice (there are dice in this game!).
It was a nice game, but too easy for me. I feel that this could have been a good Spiel des Jähres game and the Kennerspiel could have gone to a heavier game. I will lobby for an Überkennerspiel des Jähres.
After Istanbul, which is a quick game (after all, it is a race), Tom, Annie and I played Marracash, a game from 1996 by Stefan Dorra, the same designer of Intrigue (a brutal game about losing long-term friendships by playing Intrigue).
This was friendlier than Intrigue.
The game was entirely in German, which is fine as it is language independent, with the slight disadvantage of having the Rules in German only.
We did quite a bit of work with our smartphones to get the English version of the rules (which occupies one or two pages only) and finally we got to play it.
The game is very quick but the decisions are easy but very tough to make. A bit of a brain burner, but a quick burner.
Basically you auction shops in a bazaar and the auctioneer gets a cut of the deal. When you get tourists of the colour of your shop, you get increasing amounts of money (accumulates per number of customers to maximum of 5 customers per shop) and people can move groups of tourists around the streets of the bazaar and they get left behind as they find interesting shops to spend their money. If you help other players' shops, you get a cut from their profits, reducing their profits and increasing yours, but that also increases their cash in hand for future auctions.
There are 3 entrances to the bazaar and you get to refill the entry points with 1 to 4 tourists picked from the end of two queues, so if everybody picks 4 tourists a go, the game ends very quickly.
It's a very very interesting game with very interesting decisions to make.
I won the game by some margin with Tom in 2nd and Annie in 3rd.
My advice would be to always make money at each step of the process. Moving people around and not getting your cuts is bad for your cash flow. Also, don't overbid or underbid for the shops. The maximum profit you can make on any shop is 1400 dirhams per shop if you manage to get a shop for minimum price (100 dirhams, almost impossible) and you get to fill it with 5 customers over the course of the game, which is possible but not particularly easy depending on location.
Depending on how expensive the shops are going at the auctions, the cuts for auctioning and moving tourists become more or less important.