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Subject: A GFBR Review: A Two Player Treat rss

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GeekInsight
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I typically enjoy two-player games. There’s something unique about the push and pull, the give and take that isn’t quite the same at greater player counts. And I was excited to get this KdJ nominee to the table. In Targi, the players are opposing tribes attempting to amass wealth and property in the desert.

The Basics. The board is really an array of cards. Sixteen of which are placed along the boarder and have unique abilities. In the center, there’s a mix of Goods cards and Tribe cards. Each player gets three tribesmen and two markers. A neutral tribesman is also placed on the first card in the outside ring.

One player begins by placing a tribesman on the outer ring of cards. Any card can be selected except for the corners or where the neutral tribesman is. Then the opponent places a tribesman, except he can’t select the same card or the card directly across from it. Play continues back and forth until both players have played all three. Then the markers are placed on the Tribe and Goods cards that intersect the players’ tribesmen.

This should leave each player with five markers on the board. Three tribesmen around the outside and two markers in the middle. The first player can take all of the actions in any order. If he uses a tribesman, he simply does the action indicated. If he takes a marker off a Goods card, he discards it and takes the depicted goods. If he takes a Tribe card, he can purchase it and put it in front of him to create a display.

Tribe cards are generally worth points and can also be placed in an array in front of you for bonus points. But you have to plan carefully. Once placed, the card cannot be moved.

Each round, the neutral tribesman moves one spot. And when he moves to a corner, a raid occurs that forces the players to discard points or goods. The game ends when the neutral tribesman makes it all the way around (16 rounds) or when one player completes their display of 12 cards. Most points wins.

The Feel. Targi is a wonderful balance between doing things that are helpful to you and things that are harmful to the opponent. Because it is a two player game, keeping your opponent from getting two points is basically equivalent to getting two points yourself. And the game provides plenty of opportunities for both.

It all starts with the placement of the tribesmen. You want to place somewhere helpful to yourself. Perhaps because there is a card in a particular row or column that you want. And wherever you place your tribesmen, you are effectively cutting off that row or column from your opponent.

But that opponent won’t take things lying down. He can look at the column that you claimed and see which row you might have your eyes on. He can simply place his tribesman in that row and cut off your access to the card you wanted the most. And so on. Depending on how aggressive the players are, you might find a game more about cutting off the opponent than about creating scoring opportunities for yourself.

Often, though, the special benefits afforded by the outer rim of cards are simply too awesome to pass up. So even when you aren’t actively looking to stymie your opponent, there are a number of hard choices. Maybe you want a particular card from the center, but aren’t a fan of the edge cards that would get you there. Conversely, you might really want to use an edge card ability but find that nothing in that row or column interests you. And you only have a finite number of rounds, so you can’t dawdle too much.

The Tribe cards are also good for more than just scoring points. Many of them also bestow a special power. Some of them are one-time-use and are expended as soon as they are played. Others, though, provide an ongoing benefit like avoiding raids or gaining other Tribe cards at a discount. Though they aren’t cheap, amassing the right combination can be critical to victory. So it’s just as critical that you harass and delay your opponent from getting them as well.

But the nice thing is that even if your opponent stops you from getting the particular item that you wanted, you aren’t without recourse. Every round, you’ll have access to five new items or powers. Often, some of those powers will give you the goods you need to buy the other cards you’re using. So each round, you feel like you are making some progress in gaining goods or obtaining Tribe cards. This helps keep the spite quotient low and it makes it easier to play with casual or non-gamers.

And it’s just a fun title to play. It’s the kind of game that makes you keep as close a watch on your opponent as you do on yourself. Targi is the kind of game where you can start to divine your opponent’s strategy fairly early on. And the push and pull comes in to play even in the early rounds. But it is almost all blocking and board manipulation. There are almost no cards that let you actively attack or steal from the opponent.

Components: 4 of 5. I got my copy in trade and it turned out to be the German edition. Which means paste-ups and sleeves for all my cards. Still, the artwork is appropriate for a euro title and I like that the player colors aren’t the same standard red, blue, or green. The bits are the high quality painted wood and card stock you’d expect from a modern euro title.

Strategy/Luck Balance: 4.5 of 5. There is a modest amount of luck in how the cards come out and are arrayed in the center. And also who gets to go first on the turn that the cards come out. But largely, the game is about manipulating the board – and the opponent – to gain the greatest advantages.

Mechanics: 4.5 of 5. Aside from a few nits here and there that are hardly worth mentioning, the game is a mechanical marvel. It’s great to see something so light on rules and components create such an engaging and rewarding experience.

Replayability: 3.5 of 5. There are no randomized setups or variable abilities that have been shoehorned in to try to add replay value. Sure, the Tribe and Goods cards come out randomly and that varies the game, but you’re mostly making the same decisions from game to game. While Targi might not have a hundred plays in it, it surely has a few dozen and would make a great couples game.

Spite: NA of 5. As a two-player game, Targi doesn’t really have spite as I would ordinarily define it. Even so, there is a good deal of blocking and forcing the opponent to move away from their most desired spots. So you have to be comfortable with a little push and pull.

Overall: 4 of 5. Targi is a solid title, and one replete with real and meaningful decisions. I love that a simple ruleset, with few exceptions to be remembered, can nevertheless create challenging and relatively deep play. As a two-player only game, this is definitely worth checking out and certainly should be attractive to couples.

(Originally posted, with pictures, at the Giant Fire Breathing Robot. Check out and subscribe to my Geeklist of reviews, updated weekly)
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ozzy perez
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I absolutely adore this game. Imo, the finest two player offering out there and in my top 10 of all time. So glad I get to play this often!
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Andy Steiger
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Thanks for this great review of the game. I am very glad that You like Targi so much.
One little remark. The game only takes 12 rounds, not 16 cause after a raid the robber moves to the next card instantly. So he does not stay there one round and players don´t place there Targis during a raid.


Thanks again and many greetings
Andy
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Karl Bunyan
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STOCKBROT wrote:
One little remark. The game only takes 12 rounds, not 16 cause after a raid the robber moves to the next card instantly. So he does not stay there one round and players don´t place there Targis during a raid.

I made this mistake for my first ten or so games. I was surprised by how much tighter (and better) the game is with the correct rules.
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GeekInsight
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STOCKBROT wrote:
One little remark. The game only takes 12 rounds, not 16 cause after a raid the robber moves to the next card instantly. So he does not stay there one round and players don´t place there Targis during a raid.


Thanks for the clarification! I completely overlooked that rule. Still, my games have tended to end around turn 11 or 12 anyway thanks to a completed tableau.
 
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