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Subject: Istanbul rss

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Chris Baylis
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ISTANBUL from PEGASUS SPIELE is a game for 2-5 players aged 10+ and is designed by the renown Rüdiger Dorn.
A game with a full compliment of players takes about 75 minutes (the box says 40-60 but we figure 15 minutes a player is about right).

This is another resource management game, of which there are many, but it is good, fun, and quite different from most of the other games of this ilk. I say "most" because this has some elements of other games but mostly it is fresh. 16 Place (Bazaar locations) cards make up the board.

ISTANBUL has that frustration factor, you know, the one where you want to do so many things in your turn but you just cannot manage it; this is one of the things that makes it so playable, make that replayable. There are 16 Places at that make up the Bazaar and these are setup according to the sequence of numbers in the top left corner. The smaller the number the more of a challenge the game becomes. Each of these Places offers the players a different Action such as gaining the game winning Gems, providing an income, collecting resources and enlarging their wheelbarrows.

Each player has a "wheelbarrow" that holds the Goods (Resources) they collect. There is space to add three extra parts to this barrow that can be bought for 7 Coins - I have to say that I was surprised to not pay more for each one (as in first costs 7, second cost 10 third costs 14), especially as gaining cash isn't too difficult and collecting 3 wheelbarrow parts gives you a free Gem. The game ends when one player has collected the required number of Gems, 5 in all games except 6 in a 2-player game.

Players each have a Family Member piece which begins in the Police Station Place; they also have a Merchant and 4 Assistants. It is the Merchant that moves around the board, traveling 1 or 2 Places (never diagonally) and taking the Action on the Place they end up on - moving through other Places with no penalty. If the Place they end on has another player's Merchant (or Merchants) on it, a choice is given - you either pay 2 Coins to the owner of each Merchant already there, in which case you can carry out the Action of the Space, or you can decide not to pay, in which case your turn ends immediately and you do not get to activate the Action on that Place as you have to move every turn at the beginning of your turn.

When a Merchant moves out of a Space it does one of two things: it either collects one of its Assistants who was left there from a
previous visit to the Space, or it leaves an Assistant behind - a Merchant cannot take an Action if it doesn't have an Assistant with
it. A nice idea is that you can collect Assistants as you move (as explained above - when you land on a Space you had already left
an Assistant in) or you can move to the Fountain Space in which case all your Assistants gravitate to you with no movement costs; this takes up your entire turn. But on your next turn you can move off with a full compliment of Assistants and you do not have to leave one behind on the Fountain Place - the only Place this happens.

If you move your Merchant to the Police Station you set free your Family Member (if they are still there) which means you can send the Family Member to any other Place (no movement restrictions) and carry out the Action there, but only that Action. If you land on the Place where there is another player's Family Member you send that FM back to the Police Station and collect a reward, either an event card or cash.

Event cards begin as a face down deck but as they are collected and used they are discarded face up to the Caravansery Place. Once on this Place cards can now also be taken from here, as well as the blind deck, by anyone who lands on the Caravansery Place.

I'm not going to talk through every Place, just suffice it to know that the one you are currently on is always (according to Sod's Law not the
rules)the furthest from the one you wish to land on next - that's almost a given. You can actually plan your moves out if you have enough
cash to pay opponents or if you do not mind abruptly ending your turn. This means that the game is indeed fun and appealing for games players who like to plan their moves and for players who like to make their mind up after seeing what the other players have done. There are also Mosque tiles (on the Mosque Places) in sets of 2, which give bonuses (and Gems), but only one of each can be collected per player and there aren't enough sets to go round the number of players. To make life a little more amusing there are also two other pieces on the board.
These are the Governor (a Purple Pawn) and the Smuggler (a Black Pawn). If your Merchant lands on a Place where one or both of these Pawns
are you may use that Pawn's special Action - but you do not have to. If you do use the Action then you roll the two d6 and move the Pawn to
the represented Place (this means Places 13-16 cannot be rolled). If both Pawns were on the same Place and you used both Actions then you roll separately to move each Pawn.

We had one minor discrepancy over the wording of the Caravansery Place in the English rules so we decided on gamer-sense. Basically the rules allow you to take two cards from the draw pile and discard a card (either one of them or one you previously held if you wish to keep both
cards you picked up). The Caravansery wording is When taking Bonus cards with this action you may take them from the top of the face-up discard pile. This suggests, by saying them that you can take the cards from the discard pile, it doesn't say the discard pile and the draw deck. So what we asked ourselves is Can we take either 2 cards from the draw pile or 2 cards from the discard pile or can we take one from the draw pile and one from the discard pile? We settled on allowing the taking of one from each stack or 2 from either the draw or the discards.

ISTANBUL is a classic resource using and balancing game and plays very well with 3, 4 or 5 players. We haven't tested it as a 2 player game but
there is a 2 player variant at the end of the rules.
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Ralph Bruhn
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Chris Baylis wrote:

We had one minor discrepancy over the wording of the Caravansery Place in the English rules so we decided on gamer-sense. Basically the rules allow you to take two cards from the draw pile and discard a card (either one of them or one you previously held if you wish to keep both
cards you picked up). The Caravansery wording is When taking Bonus cards with this action you may take them from the top of the face-up discard pile. This suggests, by saying them that you can take the cards from the discard pile, it doesn't say the discard pile and the draw deck. So what we asked ourselves is Can we take either 2 cards from the draw pile or 2 cards from the discard pile or can we take one from the draw pile and one from the discard pile? We settled on allowing the taking of one from each stack or 2 from either the draw or the discards.
Yes, this is right, you can freely choose how many cards you draw from which stack.
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Kenrick Fearn
France
Ruffec
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Hi Chris

Solid review ...this has rapidly become one of our favourite games of this year ...I have only played two player so far and we have not tried the variant two player rules yet ...every game has been great fun ...I think it would be fair to say that this game seems to scale well ...the other merchants are used by themselves in the two player and act as real pain in the bums but work really well ...after encountering them one rolls and moves the other merchant to a new tile ...this can really mess up your plans lol...but can also mess up your opponents plans too devil

Thanks for writing the review ...it confirms that we played the game right as well as there is no video play through etc yet which I am very surprised about and I expected this game to garner more interest ...

Btw I think the components are really good too, nice thick tiles, great art work ...couple of slightly dodgy rules which we had to think about a bit ...you mentioned one ...and the other was covered on another thread ...but other than that a great all round product ...

Happy gaming and thanks for taking the time to write this up ...

Ric
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Andi Hub
Germany
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Chris Baylis wrote:
Each player has a "wheelbarrow" that holds the Goods (Resources) they collect. There is space to add three extra parts to this barrow that can be bought for 7 Coins - I have to say that I was surprised to not pay more for each one (as in first costs 7, second cost 10 third costs 14), especially as gaining cash isn't too difficult and collecting 3 wheelbarrow parts gives you a free Gem.


The wheelbarrow upgrade is certainly not too cheap and I have seen wins without any upgrade of it. The most important "currency" in this game are your actions and you have to spend these as well to get the wheelbarrow upgraded.

What I like about Istanbul is how you plan your movement through the different sites of the Bazaar. Since actions are so valuable, you try not to go to the fountain too often and rather visit places twice to take the merchants with you, who you have left there in previous turns. And the game is short! So you want to upgrade and get many goods and then do a couple of deliveries to the Sultan's palace for victory points? Maybe one opponent has already gained 3 or 4 "cheap" victory points until then. This is certainly not an engine building Euro game.
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Michal Starek
Czech Republic
Sezimovo Usti
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ringo84 wrote:
And the game is short! So you want to upgrade and get many goods and then do a couple of deliveries to the Sultan's palace for victory points? Maybe one opponent has already gained 3 or 4 "cheap" victory points until then. This is certainly not an engine building Euro game.


Did anyone have the chance to playtest a game variant "get 7 diamonds", thus there'd be time to some engine-building, albeit a longer playing time altogether? I'd be very much curious about that.
 
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David Arranz
Spain
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barandur wrote:
Chris Baylis wrote:

We had one minor discrepancy over the wording of the Caravansery Place in the English rules so we decided on gamer-sense. Basically the rules allow you to take two cards from the draw pile and discard a card (either one of them or one you previously held if you wish to keep both
cards you picked up). The Caravansery wording is When taking Bonus cards with this action you may take them from the top of the face-up discard pile. This suggests, by saying them that you can take the cards from the discard pile, it doesn't say the discard pile and the draw deck. So what we asked ourselves is Can we take either 2 cards from the draw pile or 2 cards from the discard pile or can we take one from the draw pile and one from the discard pile? We settled on allowing the taking of one from each stack or 2 from either the draw or the discards.
Yes, this is right, you can freely choose how many cards you draw from which stack.


You can take two bonus cards and discard a card you have in your hand got before?

Thanxs
 
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Ralph Bruhn
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Kaihansen wrote:

You can take two bonus cards and discard a card you have in your hand got before?

Thanxs
Yes.
 
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