Although many reviews have already been written on this game, I figure another one can't hurt (I'm one of those people who enjoy reading different reviews). I've never done a review before, so please forgive me if this is rather lame.
In reality, the names "Tigris" and "Euphrates" refer to the two rivers that flow through Iraq. Historically speaking, many agree that the area between the two is what gave birth to the first society known to man. Several kingdoms rose and fell throughout the ages (ie. Babylonians and Alexander) here, and hence, the board game models itself after this theme. Tigris and Euphrates , through the placement of tiles and leaders, is a game that emulates the rise and fall of different kingdoms. Although many would argue that the theme plays no part in the game, I would in fact argue the opposite - by taking the theme into consideration, the game becomes easier to learn and in my opinion, more enjoyable. As for the general population's (referring to us BGGers) opinion about the game, you don't need to look further than its number 2 rating here. Well, on with the review =)
This review is for the second edition of the Mayfair game.
The game board is fairly big, measuring in at roughly 45.5cm by 68cm (that's around 18in by 26.75in for you Americans). It is made of fairly good cardboard, although I have a minor quibble about the inability for the board to be completely flat due to the creases that come with its folding. I find the artwork on the board to be nicely detailed and quite colorful, although it is a bit on the bright side. A brownish tint to the terrain would have probably made for a more realistic board, but that's really minor and the white terrain looks fine indeed. There are 10 spaces on the board that are premarked by a reddish creature that resembles a male sphinx (I'd say centaur, but these guys have wings), but all they serve to do is to denote the 10 starting spots in which a temple should be placed.
All in all, I'd give the board a rating of 8.5/10
The tiles, like the board, are made from pretty good quality cardboard, measuring in at roughly 4cm by 4cm. Unfortunately though, while I was punching the tiles out from their sheet (which I did rather carefully), some of the printing tore off from the corner of the tile. While this only happened with a few tiles, it was still something that I was irked with. The artwork itself is decent, if somewhat cluttered. Each tile has a fairly thick border in a color that represents its type (red for temple, green for trader, blue for farm, black for settlement), and this denotation is quite clear. I found the tiles to be decent, but this somewhat changed when I saw the Hans Im Gluck version of the tiles. The artwork for these is simple, yet remarkably clean and beautiful. There's a certain grace to these tiles that I am completely in love with, and I am utterly dismayed at the fact that the Mayfair version could not come up with a similar form of artwork. However, that being said, the Mayfair tiles are still decent and do not detract from the gaming experience.
All in all, I give the Mayfair tiles a rating of 7/10 (the Hans Im Gluck one would have gotten a 10 if they punched out cleanly)
The leaders come on nice wooden circular slabs. While I find the lion and the bow/arrow to be attractive, I find the bull to look like, well, a donkey. I'm not in love with the water jugs either, but I have friends who like them, so I think I am the exception here.
The victory points are represented by cubes, and these come in 4 different colors (red, blue, green, black), and 2 different sizes. The small size is equal to 1 victory point in that color, while the larger one is equal to 5 victory points in that color (therefore, 5 small cubes = 1 big cube). I think it would have been cooler that instead of being just cubes, the victory point chip actually looked like the thing it represented (ie. coin for trader, crown for king), but alas, the cost would have skyrocketed from its already hefty price, so yes, the cubes work just fine.
The monuments are simple, and each color combination can be made with through a monument (for red, blue, and green, there are each 2 "heads", while there are 3 black bases, and 1 of each for red, blue, and green). The bases pretty much snap into the "heads", although one is a little loose in my game. Again, this is minor, and the monuments do their jobs quite fine.
The play screens are beautiful and very nicely done. The outer part of the screen has those male-sphinx-like things, centered by your dynasty symbol, while the inside of it has a very brief summary of the rules. Excellent stuff here =)
Finally, we have the cloth bag. While the idea sounds cool, I am ashamed to say that the bag is see through, and that you'd be just as well off using a grocery bag However, this can be easily amended by going to your local store and buying a nice black velvet pouch for a couple of dollars. But yes, to reiterate, the cloth bag provided sucks!
All in all, I give the bits a rating of 3.5/5
Overall, I give the components for Tigris & Euphrates a grade of 19/25, or 76%.
*Note* I use terms that are a bit different than those found in the rulebook, but I find that it goes with the theme better and makes it easier to learn. A settling group is equivalent to a tile, temple builders are your basic red tile, farmers are your blue tiles while head farmer is your blue leader, mutiny is an internal conflict, civil war is an external conflict, royalties are victory points, and sideline/sidebar means behind your screen)
Although many believe that this is a tough game to learn, I believe that the rules are quite simple and intuitive. In fact, using the theme of Tigris & Euphrates helps immensely. Firstoff, however, a few definitions:
Leader: A leader is the wooden circular disk that has a dynasty symbol on it. It comes in four colors: Red for Priest, Blue for Head Farmer, Green for Trader, and Black for King.
Dynasty: Each player is in control of one dynasty, and unlike most games where a dynasty would be color-coded, a dynasty in Tigris & Euphrates is comprised of 4 leaders of the same symbol, but different color. For example, the "lion" dynasty would be composed of four leaders of a red lion, blue lion, green lion, and black lion, each representing a priest, farmer, trader, and king of the lion dynasty.
Link : A link occurs when two or more tiles are adjacent to each other. That is, their sides touch. (Tiles that are only connected through their diagonal tips are not considered linked)
Region : A region is any space on the board that has a tile, or a linkage of tiles. Although the rules say they can have leaders, I find it easier to explain a region as leaderless, and a kingdom as a region with a leader.
Kingdom : A kingdom is a region that has a leader (regardless of its color), attached to it.
From this point on, I will do my best to attempt diagrams to outline some of the rules. In these diagrams, the
= priest (leader)
= farmer (leader)
= trader (leader)
= king (leader)
= temple (civilization tile)
= farm (civilization tile)
= market (civilization tile)
= settlement (civilization tile)
Hence, in the following diagram,
Let me firstly apologize for my inability to clearly color code each region/kingdom above. I couldn't get the code to work by giving me a background color here, so you guys might have to strain your eyes to see this. Also, the colors only seem to work on Internet Explorer - if you're using Mozilla Firefox or Netscape, yoy might be out of luck =( Anyway,
The top left corner that is color coded red represents a region
The top right corner that is color coded hot purple also represents a region
The one blue area (with the ) that is diagonally left of the hot purple area is a region on its own. It is not connected to the hot purple region because only the corners touch, and not the sides!
The bottom left corner that is color coded hot green represents a kingdom because it has a leader attached to it!
Finally, the bottom right corner that is color coded purple also represents a kingdom. It is one kingdom (not two separate ones).
So you’re interested in learning Tigris & Euphrates, eh? Before you lies the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and within and around these rivers, the land to build your empire. There are 10 temples, each holding a treasure, that are already located in the area. As supreme leader of your empire, you have four leaders at your disposal: a priest, a head farmer, a trader, and a king. (Yes, you do have a king at your disposal – pretty cool, eh?) As the game starts, the gods from above reward you with six groups of people, with each individual group interested only in one of temple building, farming, markets, or plain old settlements. Unfortunately for you though, the gods are drunk, and the number of group type you get is random. These groups just sit on the sideline however (hidden from view so that no other opposing empire can see them), waiting for a chance for you to use them.
During Your Turn
During your turn, you may do two of the following. If you choose to do so, you may do the same action twice.
You can deploy, reposition, or remove a leader from the playing field. However, if a leader is on the field, it must always be adjacent to a temple – without the backing of the gods, the citizens will most definitely run your leader out of town. Deploying a leader may also give chance for a mutiny to occur, and this will be discussed later.
You may also direct one of the civilization groups you have sitting on the sidelines to populate any unpopulated area on the field. However, there is a restriction. The farming type may only cultivate river spaces, while settlements, temples, and markets may only populate land spaces. The positioning of one of your civilization groups may also give chance for a civil war to erupt, or for a monument building opportunity, both of which will be discussed later.
If you’re unhappy with any of the groups that are waiting on your sidelines, you can send as many of them as you want to their deaths, and in return, the drunken gods will give you that many random groups back.
Finally, you yourself can pray to your gods to destroy any land space (with the exception of a space occupied by a leader, a space that is occupied by a “treasured” temple, or a space that contains a monument) This space is now cursed and barren, causing leaders and settlers alike to shy away at all costs. Hence, this land space is “useless” for the rest of the game. You can use this privilege twice throughout the game.
At the end of each empire's turn, each empire's sideline is refreshed to 6 groups.
Determining which empire is strongest (victory conditions)
As you build your empire, there will be many occasions in which royalties are collected – the types you get are those from the temple builders, farmers, market men, and settlers. Out of the four possible royalty categories, the one in which you have the least number in represents your final score. For example, if you have 10 red, 8 blue, 9 green, and 2 black, your final score is 2! The treasures you collect during the game act as wilds, and hence, at the end of game, they will bolster your lowest score by one royalty unit for each treasure you have.
How royalties/treasures are collected
A treasure is collected when there exists a kingdom with at least two “treasured” temples in it and a trader leader. The trader is allowed to collect all the treasures in that kingdom except for one of them (ie. If a kingdom contains 3 treasured temples, the trader may claim 2 treasures).
When a certain population group decides to settle in an area, they are forced to pay a royalty. The way this works is that the appropriate leader will collect one royalty unit from the settling party (for example, if a group of temple builders want to build a temple in a kingdom with a priest, the priest collects a red royalty. If there is no priest in the kingdom, but a king exists, he collects the red royalty. If neither exists, no royalties are collected.
Notice that the royalty is paid to the empire the leader belongs to. Hence, if you send a group of temple builders to build a temple in a kingdom in which a priest from a different empire exists, that empire gets the royalty, and not you!
In the following scenario:
If a group of temple builders decide to build a temple at A3, the empire the priest belongs to collects a red royalty. Note that the king does not get it because the priest has first dibs.
If a group of farmers decide to farm at B2, the empire the king belongs to collects a blue royalty.
If a group of temple builders decide to build a temple at B3, no royalty is collected.
If a a group decides to open up a market at C2, the empire that the king belongs to collects a green royalty.
Hence, the basic rule of thumb for royalties, then, is that like collects like – the head farmer collects from farmers, the priest collects from temple builders, the trader collects from markets, and the king collects from settlements. If the appropriate leader type is not on the board, then the king collects for any color (that’s what a king does anyway, isn’t it? Sits on his lazy butt and collects royalties!)
Finally, the last way, outside of any conflicts, that a royalty is collected is through the construction of monuments . A monument may be constructed if a newly settled group causes a 2x2 grid of the same group type to form. At that time, the empire that just sent the group to settle may choose to rally the groups in a 2x2 grid to erect a monument. A monument consists of two colors. One mandatory color is the color that the group represents – hence, if a group of temple builders erect a monument, one of the colors must be red, if a group of farmers erect a monument, one of the colors must be blue. The other color may be a different color of the empire’s choosing.
The gods, in their joy of having monuments built for them, reward the appropriate leader type, in the kingdom where the monument is, a royalty that matches the colors of the monument. Hence, if there is a black blue monument in a kingdom, at the end of an empire’s turn, if that empire has a king and/or head farmer in the kingdom, the gods reward it with a black and/or blue royalty. An empire may only collect royalties through monuments at the end of their turn!
Note that the number of royalties you have should be kept hidden from other empires.
Phew, almost done with the rules! The final diagram will be used to help illustrate a mutiny and a civil war .
A mutiny is created when an empire sends a certain type of leader into a kingdom that already contains that leader. The gods decide who the proper leader is, and this is determined by the number of temples that are adjacent to the respective leader. The empire who just sent the leader into the kingdom is denoted as the "attacker", while the other empire is the "defender". The attacker may also send temple builders from the sidelines to support his leader's cause (in the game, by placing the red tiles outside your screen), and after this occurs, the defender gets a chance to do the same. The victor is the one with the greater number of adjacent temples + temple builders. In the case of a tie, the defender always wins. The defeated leader is then booted out of the kingdom by the gods (off the board), and the victor claims one red royalty. The temple builders who were sent to defend their leader's claim are then sent off to early retirement (discarded from the game).
For example, if an empire sent a priest to B3, a chance for a mutiny arises. The defending priest, at A2, has 3 adjacent temples to it, while the attacking priest has 2 adjacent temples to it. The attacker sends 3 temple builders to bolster his claim, while the defender
a) sends nothing. Hence, the final score is 5 for the attacker, and 3 for the defender. The losing priest now suffers the wrath of the gods, and is removed from A2, while the victorious priest resides at B3. The attacking priest is rewarded with a red royalty (from the supply, and not the defeated).
b) sends 2 temple builders to defend his priest. Hence, the final score is 5 for the attacker, and 5 for the defender. Since the defender always wins ties, the attacking priest is defeated, and is rudely kicked out from his B3 spot. The defending priest may stay in his A2 position, and is rewarded 1 red royalty (from the supply, not the defeated).
Note, regardless of the type of leader that the mutiny is occurring for, the victor is always rewarded a red royalty!
If a group type settles, and in doing so, connects two kingdoms, there is now the possibility for a civil war to occur. A civil war occurs when, through the settling of a group, the newly unified kingdom contains 2 of the same type of leader.
Unlike a mutiny , which is determined by adjacent temples, a civil war is determined by the number of supporters a leader has of his type in what was previously his kingdom.
Like a mutiny , the attacker and defender may bolster their leader's claim by sending groups from their sidelines. However, the groups sent are not temple builders, but rather, the group type that the civil war is in.
If the empire who sent the group to settle is participating in the civil war, it is always considered the attacker. If it doesn't participate in the civil war, it may choose who the attacker and defender is. Also, if there is more than one civil war going on in the newly unified kingdom, the empire that sent the group that unified the kingdoms may choose the order in which each war is resolved. This is important, because the settling of one civil war may cancel out any other one that may have otherwise occurred.
Again, like a mutiny , whoever has the higher score (total number of supporters in kingdom + supporters sent from sideline), is the winner, with the defender winning ties. However, the consequences are much more exaggerated. Whereas in a mutiny , only the leader is removed, in a civil war , the leader and ALL of the defeated supporters are removed from the kingdom. The victor is rewarded with a royalty for each supporting group removed in this fashion, including the leader, and the royalty is in the color in which the civil war was fought under.
For example, if a player places a tile at F5, a civil war will occur between the head farmers of the newly unified kingdom. The kingdom on the right has 7 farmers supporting the head farmer, while the defender has 4 farmers supporting his head farmer. The attacker decides to send 2 more farmers from his sideline to support his head farmer, while the defender just cries about his situation. The final tally is 9 for the attacker, and 4 for the defender. The farmer at H5 is removed, and the farms at F2, F4, H4, and I3 are also removed, and the attacker is rewarded with 5 blue royalties.
There is a slight exception to the rule if a civil war occurs between priests. The defeated priest is exiled from the kingdom, but if a temple has a leader adjacent to it, or a temple contains a treasure, it is not removed! Red royalties are only rewareded for the temples that are removed.
For example, a group settles at E1 and unites the northern kingdom with the southern kingdom, and the priests are now at war! The northern priest, the attacker, has 3 temples supporting it, while the defending priest has 6 temples supporting it (remember, in a civil war, supporters are measured throughout the kingdom, and not limited to the ones that are adjacent to the leader). However, the attacking empire sends 6 temple builders to bolster its priest's support to 9, while the defending empire is unable to spare any supporting temple builders for his priest. Hence, the attacker wins 9 to 6. The priest at G2 is removed, and the temple at F1 is removed, but the one at G1 remains (there is no longer a priest adjacent to the temple at G1, there is still a head farmer adjacent to it). The temples at I2 and H3 are also removed, but the ones at I1 and H2 remain as they are adjacent to the head farmer at H1. Hence, the priest and 3 temples are removed, and the victor is rewarded with 4 red royalties.
Oh yeah, a leader is not allowed to connect two kingdoms together. Hence, it is illegal to place a leader at E1. Also, if a group settles and unites 2 kingdoms together, a royalty is not handed out for the group that united the two kingdoms together. (Hence, if a group of temple builders settle at E1, a red royalty is not handed out.
And that's it! The game ends when the gods run out of groups to send to the empires (the bag runs out of tiles), or if there are 2 or less treasures left on the board.
In the game Tigris & Euphrates , you control an empire with four leaders at your disposal. You can send these leaders out into any region/kingdom, and they collect royalties for you. However, you are competing with other kingdoms, and there is always a chance for a mutiny to occur, in which the gods decide who the victor is, and a chance for a civil war to occur, in which the number of supporters in your kingdom help and your sideline help decide if you are victorious. You may erect glorious monuments to pay homage to your gods, and these gods will reward any leader within your kingdom, and you may also pray to your gods to send a blight onto almost any area in the region. With a bit of luck, and the help of the gods and fellow supporters, you can create the greatest empire ever known!
Tigris & Euphrates is currently ranked as the number 2 game on the geek, and there's a reason why - it's absolutely great.
Although not heavily strategic, the game is highly tactical - you must pay close attention to what other people are doing, and react accordingly. Because of this, I find that there is very little down time in the game. When it's not your turn, you're paying attention to what others are doing, and trying to figure out what your best possible move is. The board is hardly ever static - kingdoms continually rise and fall, creating different scenarios each time the game is played.
Each turn brings about several agonizing decisions (don't agonize too much though - you don't want to wear down the patience of your fellow gamers!) Should you remove a leader to prevent a possible loss in a civil war? Should you kill off your sidebar and ask the gods to give you a new mix? Should you pray for them to destroy a land area? This game certainly forces you to think, but worry not, there are multiple paths to victory! A mistake you make early in the game can help you in a different area later in the game. Whether you choose to build a monument, wall up in your own mini kingdom, or be bold and attack other kingdoms, victory can be achieved with a careful understanding of the current game.
There is a bit of randomness to the game, something pure gamers may not take too highly to. Drawing random tiles, and not knowing what your opponent has behind his screen may cause some players to feel that the outcome is too luck-based, but I actually find this minimal luck somewhat refreshing. In real life, no matter how carefully you plan something, things may sometimes just come crashing down, although in the end, the people who are able to think ahead and react accordingly usually come up successful in their endeavors. The same, to me, can be said about Tigris and Euphrates. Although your plans may come to shambles because someone luckily had 6 temples behind their screen, most of the time Tigris and Euphrates will reward those who plan and react superbly to what is occurring on the board . There is a certain challenge into overcoming that luck factor, a challenge that I find adds more excitement to the game. The catastrophe tiles also keep the game highly tense, as many times players try to defend against them by forging multiple links to necessary elements (ie. supporters, monuments)
I will attest to the fact that the consequences of moves made earlier in the game are hard to see at the time. Although the game is easy to learn, it's extremely difficult to master, and although I've played this game many, many times, I still find myself cursing at how previous moves I made came to bite me in the butt. However, it's this learning aspect, combined with the fact that the game is always different, and that you're sometimes battling luck, that draws me to the game over and over again. It works great with 2, 3 or 4 players, although I think the sweet spot is with 3 players, and most importantly, whether you know you're getting annihilated or if you've just eeked out a victory, the game is what every game needs to be - it's pure, thrilling, fun.
Out of 75, I would give gameplay for Tigris & Euphrates a 74, or slightly above 98%. (I think I rated this game a 10, but that was purely based on gameplay)
Final score: 19 + 74 = 93%
note: I edited this on June 18th to try and incorporate the pictures into the review. Sorry for the mess it was earlier! If I edit it again, it will hopefully just be for spelling/grammar mistakes =)
- Last edited Sat Jun 18, 2005 9:41 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Mar 1, 2005 11:33 am
I was somewhat leery of looking at another review of T&E but you did a great job with yours. Nice!
I also appreciated the attempt to do diagrams of the board using the BGG emoticons, even if I couldn't actually see them.
Finally, I am one who regularly plays T&E as a 2 player and find it works quite well as such. Different to 3 and 4, yes, but still good.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I used HTML tables to set up the game board, and it looked fine when I previewed it. I can't believe that it didn't work when I submitted it... Okay, I'll add the pictures in links...
If the images or links didn't work, here's the address O_o
Whoops, oh yeah =)
The first picture
should go just a bit below where I put the "legend" for the smileys and what they represent in the game, and directly after, "Hence, in the following diagram" (This diagram is for differentiating between regions and kingdoms)
The second picture
should go right below the lines "In the following scenario", and should actually replace that 1 2 3 4 A B C D (as I said, the tables didn't work!) (This picture is for illustrating who gets what royalty)
Finally, the third picture
should go right below where "Phew, almost done with the rules!", and should actually replace the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F G H I (This picture should illustrate how mutinies and civil wars are resolved)
Again, I apologize for referencing pictures that weren't actually on the reviews. I should have included links just in case in the actual review. Hope this helps though!
Best review ever! I mean it. It made my decision final as to what game I get next. Thank you. The visual examples are great. I wish more people gave reviews like that. If I had GG available I would have given you some.
Wow I agree - this is an awesome review. Please feel free to give other games the same thorough review you gave T&E!
Wow, thanks for the awesome comments guys =) That review took me a while to do, and I've been somewhat lazy doing any more - I'll try to do another one for... I dunno, San Juan, or PoF, or RA, or heck, one of the more popular games (since they're the only ones I know) or something =) Thanks again for the kind comments.
I have gone through only a half dozen reviews of this game and this is the first one that explains how to play the game in a manner that I can understand. Nice going...