There's hustle and bustle at Istanbul's grand bazaar as merchants and their assistants rush through the narrow alleys in their attempt to be more successful than their competitors. Everything must be well organized: wheelbarrows must be filled with goods at the warehouses, then swiftly transported by the assistants to various destinations. Your goal? Be the first merchant to collect a certain number of rubies. In Istanbul, you lead a group of one merchant and four assistants through 16 locations in the bazaar. At each such location, you can carry out a specific action. The challenge, though, is that to take an action, you must move your merchant and an assistant there, then leave the assistant behind (to handle all the details while you focus on larger matters). If you want to use that assistant again later, your merchant must return to that location to pick him up. Thus, you must plan ahead carefully to avoid being left with no assistants and thus unable to do anything... In more detail, on a turn you move your merchant and his retinue of assistants one or two steps through the bazaar, either leave an assistant at that location or collect an assistant left earlier, then perform the action. If you meet other merchants or certain individuals at the location, you might be able to take a small extra action. Possible actions include:
Playing Time 50 Minutes
Suggested Ages 10
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A very good game that can be a bit demoralizing if you fall behind given the race element. Still, the market spaces are interesting and the randomness in the board set up makes for a lot of variability all in a game that only takes about 75 minutes for four players to play. A winner in my book. The simplicity factor gives this one a slight edge for me over Yokohama.
A surprise hit in our group, Istanbul has been a regular at events for months. The game has a surprisingly simple and language independent design that although we own both a Japanese and a German language version, we have no problem understanding it. The game plays well with three to five players, because the increased interaction allows for a better retrieval of your relative, more interplay with your assistants, and a tighter game.
Istanbul is beautiful! The winner is the first to get 5 rubies... and those rubies glisten! There are lots of ways to get them: upgrade your cart, develop your abilities, trade your goods or part from your hard earned coinage. The first play can be a bit intimidating and those who are impatient with rule explanations will be impatient. But within a few turns the bewildering range of choices narrow, the path ahead becomes clear and one of the other players is blocking it. A tight and elegant game which plays well at all player counts. I love it!
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