I picked up Istanbul at the last Knavecon. It had been recommended to me by a gaming buddy (who’s opinions on games I trust) and it looked suitably different to warrant a gander or more accurately a pony.
The game sees you and your opponents as sweating street merchants hauling around a cart full of goods from pillar to post trying to acquire six expensive gems before you’re opponents do. The board consists of sixteen locations all with an action you can use when you arrive there.
Having grandiose notions you maintain an entourage of four street urchins who follow you around and on arrival at a location carry out the necessary paperwork on your behalf. These urchins are a key limiting mechanic and you find yourself spending precious turns trying to recall them to you so can continue your quest.
The locations you move around offer up various rewards picking up goods for your cart, selling goods for cash, giving you bonus cards, allowing you to recall your entourage, spots that allow you to improve your cart, buy gems and buy general improvements and help. Like a lot of games of this ilk (splendor) it’s a case of building your economy and then deciding when to go for broke. Unlike some games (five tribes) it’s abundantly clear who’s ahead and behind as all that counts at the end is someone getting their sixth jewel
Again following the traditions of this type of game it’s a relatively solo affair with some cock blockery open to players but as far as I could see the swiftest route to victory was to keep your head down and concentrate on yourself. I’m probably wrong about this and a further report will follow when a half dozen games have been played.
The game is no less fun for this way. It works really well, it’s also pretty fast. An hour to an hour and a half will see you done and dusted depending on how many you have (2-5) and it seems to scale well.
The board is something of note. It’s made up of 16 cards which can be arranged in a variety of configurations making for longer and shorter games. The artwork is very nice. The rules are excellent and despite a medium complexity you’ll be up and running pretty quick. I’m confident as well that we got the rules worked out perfectly on our first game, which is quite a feat.
The proof of the pudding was all the players fancied another go and went off looking for places to buy it from so all good