Thursday, April 12, 2007

Marco Polo Expedition

Subject: History
Category: Geography
Ages: 8 and up
# of players: 2 to 5
Time to play: 45 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: card management

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 3
Gaming value: 5
Aesthetic value: 5
Price value: 5
Ease of play: 4
Younger adaptability: 3 (need to be able to hold cards and match the symbols and colors; no reading required.)

My comments: A game designed by Reiner Knizia and made by Ravensburger is bound to be good, and this one is. Players collect cards to match the color/goods pattern shown on the next open space to advance his/her caravan towards Kantshou then Daidu, collecting gold treasure chests along the way. Whoever has the most gold wins.

The instruction booklet (in 5 languages) has an extended paragraph about Marco Polo's travels. The board is beautiful, and had a little geography in that it shows Hormus, Kantshou, Daidu, Takla Makan, the Himalayas, and the Gobi Desert. The game pieces are merchants leading camels, and the stunning playing cards depict fruits, spices, oil, and silks, and merchants in 5 colors. This is the extent of the History/Geography information. We happen to be reading Marco Polo this year, and this game make a great leisure time adjunct.

Players can pick cards from the stack or 5 cards placed face up in their quest to collect the right combination of cards to advance their camel to the front of the caravan. The first player to reach a space with gold collects the gold. When the first player reached the Kantshou midpoint, all players receive gold in the amount of the space they are on, and then they all get placed on Kantshou. The game then continues through the second half of the board until someone reaches Daidu, when a second valuation occurs and the game ends. The instructions are a bit complicated to figure out, but the game is easy after the first time it's played. My 5 year old plays along with my 8 year old and myself without assistance. link to this game:

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