I hope this trend of release tiny expansions for a game doesn't get out of hand. The biggest example of this lately has been Dice City where we've already had two mini expansions released and a third one is on the short term horizon. The expansions so far have been cool, but charging nearly £15 per expansion seems a bit crazy for what you get content wise. At that price point I'd rather you saved them up for a big box expansion. Flip City was even worse recently with releasing a mini expansion that had two different cards in it.........TWO?!
But now Five Tribes, one of my Top 100, has taken this trend and released the Thieves of Naqala - which looks more like a promo pack you would buy off the BoardGameGeek website. It's a tiny little box with just a few cards, but still on the market for around a fiver. I'd be interested to know from you readers, do you think it's starting to get out of hand or are we still safe for the moment? So as short as this review will be, does this mini-pack add anything interesting to the mix?
Designer: Bruno Cathala
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Time: 60-90 min
Spoiler Alert - This Will Be A Short One!
From the Days of Wonder website:
Naqala is now a prosperous place. Gaining the favors of the different Tribes was not that easy… but your rivals are not so easily discouraged.
Some Tribes now abandon your cause and rally to your rivals instead ; and soon it turns out that they follow influential leaders that your rivals hired against you.
Yet every man has his price, and you could return the favor to your rivals… should you have what it takes to recruit the Thieves of Naqala.
Add some treachery to your games with the merciless characters of this mini-expansion! Introducing a new playstyle, with unique powers, the Thieves of Naqala can be a real thorn in your opponents’ side.
Five Tribes is for 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and older and takes approximately 40-80 minutes to play. The mini-expansion, which requires the base game to play, contains 6 Thief cards and 1 new Djinn.
More Of A Promo Pack Than An Expansion
There is a total of 7 cards in this pack, literally 7. Amazingly the most space is taken up by the mini-rulebooks because there are four of them for multiple languages! You've got one thief card for each tribe to date (including the 6th purple tribe from the Artisans expansion) and one extra Djinn card. The thieves are the same format and size as the Djinn's so sleeves for them will work with these too.
As there is only 7 cards present, it won't make the slightest bit of difference to your storage solution for the game, it will barely notice that you've even added them. The rulebook is a tiny folded book, but unless you set this aside for months you aren't going to forget how to use these guys.
Five Tribes Just Got Mean!
Put simply, you have a separate deck next to the Djinns for these Thieves and reveal/refresh one in every turn. You can acquire these in the exact same manner that you acquire Djinns previously using a combination of slaves (yes I have the original version and didn't over-react to the unnecessary controversy from before) and/or white Elder meeples.
Once you have the card, it's placed in front of you and is worth 6 points at the end if you hang on to it. Otherwise you may discard the card back to the box to use its special power based on what colour tribe it's from. All of these powers involve the other players having to give up specific cards/meeples and you being able to choose one or two to keep from that selection. So for example the green thief takes goods cards from the other players and you get to choose some to keep for yourself.
These can swing the balance of play quite significantly if played right and even if you don't, 6 points is nothing to sneeze at. The Djinn is rather dull, she just protects you from thief powers, but it makes sense for them to include a counter to this new mechanic. But take note these are mean powers, they are directly stealing something from you. There were rare elements of that in the base game, but these are direct take-that effects so if you don't want the mean factor, then you won't enjoy these.
Verdict on Thieves of Naqala
What's there to say really about a promo pack that's less than £5 to buy? If you enjoy Five Tribes as much as I do, you're going to be buying this expansion, it's a given fact. Won't even register on your bank account or your storage method and boosts a great game further. Integration is dead simple with the thieves functioning similarly to Djinns, but with a discard ability based on the colour - so simple that you can teach this with the base game to someone new.
The only word of warning I'll make however is that Five Tribes gets a lot more mean as a result. Any player has access to the thieves and their effects are far from subtle, without being too overpowered. If you thought Five Tribes was already mean and you don't want any added emphasis on that then you can do without this, but you're cool with that and want a more interactive element then it's probably already sitting in your box right now.
If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/
YOU WILL LIKE THIEVES OF NAQALA IF:
You want to throw more cut-throat tactics into the mix.
You like having multiple ways to score points so adding another is never a bad thing.
You want super cheap and cheerful that won't cause you storage issues.
YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIEVES OF NAQALA IF:
You wanted a full blown expansion, not just a promo pack.
You believe the cards are too swingy in terms of power.
It's a promo pack for less than £5, what exactly is there to dislike?
Thanks for the description/review...I think I can safely forego this expansion as it doesn't add the type of gameplay I'm interested in to the game...I'd be quite frustrated to have stuff stolen from me - stuff that I may have paid big bucks for the right to take
Oh YEAH!!! Let's get BLOODY!!! Can't wait!!
Nice review Luke, thank you. Days of Wonder have previous when it comes to small expansions - there are several mini expansions for Small World and Ticket to Ride (the first mini expansion for Ticket to Ride now just comes with the base game), and I don't doubt for a minute that it won't continue.
I think Bruno Cathala has said elsewhere that he has enough material for another expansion, and the impression I got was that this would likely be a similar size to the Artisans expansion. Time will tell I suppose, but here's hoping...
Dist of Columbia
Howard University College of Medicine
Reptar, King of the Ozone
Solid review, Luke. Looking forward to picking this one up.