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Bryan Gerding
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I’m not entirely sure what I expected from Thief’s Market. Sometimes I impulse back Kickstarter games that are relatively cheap simply because they look pretty. I also trust Tasty Minstrel Games, they are more hit than miss and are a publisher I happily support. So when the funding was live I pressed the support button and forgot about it until it showed up on my door. Showing up on game day may have been a sign, because it hit the table immediately.

What little expectations I had were immediately met, and then some. Thief’s Market is a fantastic little game full of tension and difficult decisions, a nice dessert for when the main course is finished.

BEGIN RULES SUMMARY

In Thief’s Market you will be trying to become the most famous thief by stealing or flaunting valuable goods and abusing your connections in the black market. At the beginning of each round the start player will roll all of the specially stylized dice into the middle of the table and add the start player token into the pile. They will then take some of the dice and/or start player token into their personal stash. The next player has the option of either taking from the communal pile, or stealing ALL of the stash of another player (and then rerolling one of those items back into the pile). The game continues like this until everyone has a pile of dice in front of them, including a new start player.

Players will then use the symbols on the dice to buy cards. Certain cards give actions the players can do on their turn while some just might give end game points. Some dice give coins that count as wilds in later rounds and some dice faces give points. The game continues until all the cards have been purchased and then points are tallied up.

END RULES SUMMARY


I’ve had a hard time with board games lately because I was recently gifted with a small child. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t put out a review since May. Preferences for games has turned towards a need for them to be simple, short, and able to be played one handed. Thief’s Market fits all of these criteria. It takes about five minutes to explain the game to gamers but leads to some really interesting decisions.

MECHANICS


Thief’s Market is a game that is dependent on its mechanics and focuses on one central idea. The ability to steal dice from other players is the whole game and leads to an incredibly tense question of risk and reward. On your turn you must decide “How much can I risk taking?” If you take too much, someone might find stealing from you to be the optimal idea, but take too little and you might fall behind. It’s very nerve-wracking.

If you take the white, red, and coin die so that you can buy the White/Red card and get a bonus coin, you’ve just opened up the opportunity for another player to take your stash, discard the coin, and buy that card you wanted. Maybe you really want to be start player, but stealing it from someone else would make you discard down to two dice, and that isn’t enough! You’re always questioning how greedy you can be; your eyes are always shifting around the table.

The card buying mechanics aren’t even worth talking about by comparison. Some of the cards allow you to convert dice, some let you buy more than one card a turn, and some are just there to give you points. You buy the cards that you think will help you and you might fight for start player to secure you get those cards, but that’s about the entire extent of their purpose. I’m not saying that they aren’t balanced, it’s just that there isn’t anything strictly interesting about them.

EXPERIENCE


This is not a game of quiet contemplation. While the decisions are tense and require a lot of thought, the turns are riddled with pleas and threats.
“Don’t you look over here”
“Leave my stuff alone!”
“Don’t you dare”, and my personal favorite
“I have a child and family, we need these diamonds to buy food.”

I deplore “Take That” as a mechanic, it always just leaves me in a sour mood. I have no problems with games that hurt all your opponents equally, or give you the option to prepare or defend against the attack, but the idea that you are punished simply because someone chose you instead of others doesn’t create a fun experience. Thief’s Market’s main mechanic is a new idea on Take That, even if it could also be called victim blaming. You were robbed because you got greedy, you have no one to blame but yourself. It is incredibly frustrating to lose your stash, but it doesn’t feel as cruel when it happens because you were probably asking for it to happen.

The game is light-hearted and can be incredibly fun with the right group. I should really stress this though, because in the wrong group this game is not going to work out. Some people just take these things too seriously, and robbing from them isn’t going to create a fun experience. This probably isn’t for the strictly Euro group that is used to games where they are left alone to do their own thing.

COMPONENTS


Here is where I nit-pick, because I’m not a huge fan of some of the production details. For example, the box size is simply too small. The components only barely fit back in the box after you finish and requires a lot of shuffling and stuffing to work. I hope you didn’t want to sleeve your cards!

Another poor choice was the Infamy tokens. These are used to keep track of your points during the game. Most of these are worth only one point, but some are worth five. Unfortunately, the five point tokens look almost identical to the one point tokens and it creates a lot of confusion when they are simply dumped on the table. I love purple, but purple text on a black background was a silly idea.

I’m also personally not a huge fan of the card art and its thematic connection, but that’s just a personal preference. I tend to ignore the art when I play this game anyway.

The dice, though, are really pretty. I may be a sucker for custom dice, don’t know, but looking at those on the Kickstarter is probably what led me to backing in the first place.

CONCLUSION

This was such a happy surprise. I really didn’t expect this to be such a great game. I expected shallow filler and got a great experience instead. This is a game that I look forward to playing, one that I readily suggest at the end of the night when we have just finished the longer game. Thief’s Market is full of tense decisions and fun interaction and easily worth a recommendation.


----

See more of my reviews: HERE
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Mike
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I, too, was pleasantly surprised by the game. Fun stuff.
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Brad103
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Nice review! I'm not a big fan of 'take that' games as they can turn a bit too aggressive, but this game seems to balance it pretty well, and make it fun in a way.

I like the 'take that' comments, I've experienced the same thing playing this, I usually try the redirect approach... "his/her pile would be better for you than mine!" On the flip side, if you get the Wicked Clutches, it turns into "take my loot! i want my infamy token!"

I liked the art work, it was one of the main reasons I backed this. I liked Harbour's art style and saw that this game used the same style (as its in the same universe).

EDIT: As for box size, even with sleeves, everything fits back in fine enough for me. The box top sits 1-2mm higher than it should, but there's no rick of it coming off. Without sleeves there should be plenty of room.
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Bryan Gerding
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Braffe wrote:

EDIT: As for box size, even with sleeves, everything fits back in fine enough for me. The box top sits 1-2mm higher than it should, but there's no rick of it coming off. Without sleeves there should be plenty of room.


This would drive me crazy! As for without sleeves I find that there is enough room, just not enough to make me happy with how things are shoved inside.

Thanks for reading!
 
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Todd Parker
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HeirToPendragon wrote:
Braffe wrote:

EDIT: As for box size, even with sleeves, everything fits back in fine enough for me. The box top sits 1-2mm higher than it should, but there's no rick of it coming off. Without sleeves there should be plenty of room.


This would drive me crazy! As for without sleeves I find that there is enough room, just not enough to make me happy with how things are shoved inside.

Thanks for reading!


I think it fits perfectly in the box. At first the sleeved cards pushed up the lid a touch, but after a couple weeks of compression, the box lid closes perfectly. All the dice and first player token in the other side, then a bag with all the tokens on top of that, then the rules (folded in half one more time) on top of the tokens... then the player reference cards across the top. Fits perfectly!!
It takes a few extra seconds to put it away because everything has to go in its place perfectly, but in this age of overpackaging games (splendor...), I will take this any day.
 
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