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Five Tribes Revised: Slaves Are Out, Fakirs In

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
Board Game: Five Tribes
Board Game Accessory: Five Tribes: Fakirs
The release of Bruno Cathala's Five Tribes from Days of Wonder in September 2014 was greeted with many huzzahs for the gameplay, but one aspect of the components upset many of those who otherwise enjoyed the game — or kept them from trying the game in the first place.

Yes, I'm referring to the inclusion of slave cards in the marketplace deck alongside the gold, ivory, cloth, fish and other non-human goods. In the game, players can discard slave cards to take certain effects, and in the mind of some, this came across as players offering human sacrifices or trading in human suffering.

Board Game: Five Tribes

Original marketplace cards in Five Tribes

Before the game had even been released, DoW's Mark Kaufmann had responded to complaints about the inclusion of slave cards in the game:

In the thematic world of the Arabian Nights tales, in which Five Tribes is set, slaves were a frequent part of the story telling, sometimes even as a central character. In modern times, even the mention of slavery causes very strong reactions, but glossing over the historical fact that there were slaves in Persia in the 10th century felt like we were ignoring the realities of the world that Five Tribes takes place in. Calling them servants would have been the safer and politically correct decision, but in that time and place, nearly all servants were slaves. We felt that we wanted to stay true to the historical theme of the game.
That said, many people still complained and now Days of Wonder has announced a change of plans for future editions as well as new printings of Five Tribes, with the slave cards being replaced by cards that feature a fakir. (A look at the back of the box will likely show you which cards are inside. Rules for the Italian edition of Five Tribes (PDF) already show the fakirs.) As for those who already own the game or who want to purchase a current edition but replace the slave cards, Days of Wonder has created a pack of 18 fakir cards that will be available for purchase through the BGG Store.

Here's part of a press release from DoW's Adrien Martinot announcing the card replacement:

As we already explained very clearly in the past, we did not intend to harm anyone when we included slave cards in Five Tribes. (They were in the game from the very beginning.) Despite being part of the Arabian Nights tales folklore, we do regard slavery as an important matter and condemn it.

Still, we understood that this very precise element was preventing some people from fully enjoying Five Tribes. As a publisher, we thought it was important to offer the same joyful game experience to everyone. That is why slave cards have been replaced by fakir cards in the new reprint of the game. While the name and illustration are different, the purpose of the card in the game remain the same. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy these new fakirs, as they will be precious allies to summon powerful djinns and help your builders and assassins in completing their more or less noble tasks.

In order for everyone to have access to these new fakir cards, we worked with our friends at the BGG Store. They will be able to distribute an exclusive fakir replacement deck very soon.
Board Game Accessory: Five Tribes: Fakirs
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