I missed my weekly gaming group last night, but thankfully my wife made sure I got my board gaming fix. We played our first game of Istanbul together and she enjoyed it.
Istanbul was the Kennerspiel 2014 winner, an award given to more “gamier” games. It’s easy to see why it won: turns are simple and elegant, with interesting decisions as the game progresses. The components are all top-notch and the rulebook is clearly written.
Players are in the busy bazaar district of Istanbul and are trying to accumulate 5 rubies (6 for two players) to win the game. Of course, these gems are scarce, so players must gather, sell, and trade resources to score one of the precious rubies.
Each turn players will do one thing: move. It’s that simple; you move horizontally or vertically one or two spaces.
Of course, that wouldn’t be much of a game, so players also have the option of performing the action depicted on their space: filling up their wheelbarrow with a particular resource, upgrading their wheelbarrow to carry more resources, selling goods from their wheelbarrow, gaining action cards, gambling for more money (lire), and more.
There’s one requirement, though, for performing the action: you must have an assistant with you. Either you use of the assistants you brought with you on your move or you use an assistant you previously left on the space. Players can find efficient paths on the game board (a 4×4 grid of separate tiles; these can be changed from game to game) and there can be several paths to victory.
I love Istanbul and I’m glad my wife liked it, too. We’ll be adding it to our growing rotation of game night titles.
By the way, it’s National Dog Day! Here’s our buddy Bruno wondering why I’m sticking my phone in his face.