Friday, 15 February 2013

Through the Desert

This is honestly one of my favourite games out there. Think of it as Kingdom Builder played only in the desert sections, and the 3 ways to score stay the same every time you play. What are you left with? A perfected version of Kingdom Builder where you get to strategize and aren’t at the mercy of random card drawing, oh and the pieces you are placing are more interesting than plain wooden blocks too!
Objective: Your objective is to be the player with the most victory points by the end of the game. The game ends as soon as the last camel of a colour is taken.
Setup: The setup for Through the Desert is my least favourite part, separate the camels by colour and if you are playing with only 2 or 3 players you will need to take some out. Next randomly place the waterhole markers face up on the hexes containing black circles. Next place the Oasis trees onto the hexes marked with trees. Note that with 2 and 3 players there is a thick solid black line that separates a section of the game board, nothing should be placed on the smaller part of this section.
After all these have been placed players take turns placing 1 camel rider on the board. This is important because when you place a camel it must always connect to a camel of the same colour. You cannot place a camel rider adjacent to a: Waterhole, Oasis, Another player’s camel. After all camel riders have been placed you are ready to begin playing Through the Desert.
Note that both of the red player's camel riders have been placed incorrectly.

Game Play: Every turn a player chooses 2 camels of any colour combination he/she chooses and places them so that they are adjacent to their camel of the matching colour.
Scoring Points: When I said there were 3 ways to score I lied, there are 4.
Oasis: Moving next to an Oasis (giant green tree) scores you 5 points every NEW Oasis EACH of your caravans reach. That is each colour camel can score each oasis only one time.
The orange player's pink camels score 10 points (5 for each oasis), however
the blue camel does not score 10 points for touching the same oasis twice.

Waterhole: Water is scarce in the desert, thus visiting a waterhole is good! When a camel is placed on top of a hex containing a waterhole marker, the player takes and keeps that marker. It is worth points equal to its printed value.
Sections: Completing a closed section with one colour will score you 1 point for each hex inside of the enclosed area. You can use the mountains and game board edge as walls of your sections. You cannot enclose an Oasis or other players’ camels.
The area behind the red player's camels is enclosed, at the end of the game
this section will be worth 1 point for each hex for a total of 13 points.

Longest Caravan: At the end of the game (when one colour camel runs out) 10 points are awarded to the player with the longest of each colour caravan. If there is a tie, the tied players each score 5 points.
Components: Through the Desert has some awesome components, the player colours are not as plain and boring as in other games, although the camels are not the coolest colours...they are different not the usual red,yellow,blue,green we see in most games. The oasis trees and waterhole markers are good and allow for a number of setups, my only real beef is with the score markers, all points you score are kept track of individually and you get little score markers, then when the game is over you have to add them all up and take your opponent's word that that is how many points they got, I think a proper score board is needed.
Who will enjoy playing Through the Desert?
Family Gamers: Simple rules, no conflict, no adult themes, makes you think and strategize, freaking camels. What else could you want in a family game?
Casual Gamers: Simple rules, relatively fast play time, can screw your buddy, random board setup for replay value, low downtime, easy to learn but gets you hooked. Everything you want in a casual game.
Gamer Gamers: In depth planning and strategizing, you can directly control when the game ends, multiple ways to score, room for multiple viable strategies, no random factors. As long as you are not a serious gamer who needs your conflict/combat fix Through the Desert makes for a great strategy

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