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Subject: Comprehensive review of Targi (with lots of pictures!) rss

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Markus Müller
Austria
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I have to admit. I'm a Targi-holic. I fell in love with this game in April, my first game winning against my gaming partner. I never heard of the game before, he brought it to a gaming evening and I was immediately caught of this elegant mechanism.

Targi was nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2012 award, though it didn't win. I still think that this nomination was a good step of the judges to make more buzz for 2-player-games.

A review of Targi


Targi is the latest game of the Kosmos 2-player-series. It often happens to me that I have only one person I can play with, so I'm always keen on getting to know/buy the game of this series. I am a big fan of Pillars of the Earth - Builders Duel (with the variant without snipping), and also like Balloon Cup and Dragonheart. What impresses me very much is that there are no real "bad" games in this series, they all tend to have a large replayability. Targi is indeed a very good addition to this series. It will take you a long time to think of all logic consequences that happen by a move you make, but you can still play it very well without thinking of what will happen after your next turn.



Targi is the same size as all the other games of the Kosmos 2-player-series. You get a pack of cards, 11 wooden figures and a lot of ressource chits. We'll get to those later. There is no playing board, since the playing board will be made out of cards.



There are 5 wooden figures for every player, 3 Targi figures and 2 stones. Targi are male members of the Tuared tribe. Furthermore, there is a grey robber, which will steal from you every third round. In case you can't/don't want to pay, you lose VP.



Every player starts the game with 4 of those VP chips. One of the biggest problem this game has is that the number of VP chips is too small and you will sometimes have to take coins e.g. to track the number of points you have.



There are 3 different goods in this game: dates, salt and pepper. Every player starts with 2 of each. Furthermore, there is gold! Gold is not a good and very rare, but players will have to get to gold throughout the game more than once. Normally, you can only get gold by using the merchant.



There are about 20 goods cards. They give you different things, either 1-2 goods, sometimes even gold or VP. The most goods will be generated by those cards.



The blue clan cards are what makes the game different every time. Many cards have text on them and grant you a bonus or a special ability, while some don't have. On every card, there is one of 5 different symbols, which will be important for the end scoring.



Each card shows you it's building cost in the upper right corner, a symbol on the left hand side (in this case a Targia) and in die lower right corner the number of VP this card will count at the end of the game. In addition, some cards give you special abilities after you have built them. This Targia for example allows you to build all further Targia cards with 1 good less.



The third and last kind of cards are the border cards. There are 16 of those, 12 with actions and 4 with robberies. They are always equally distributed. As you can see, some of those will give you goods, while others let you do an action. We'll come back to those later.



As already said, there will be at most 4 robber attacks throughout the game. At every attack, you will have to decide wheter to lose goods or lose VP. Normally, you will give up the goods, since VP are more valuable. The fourth time the robber strikes, he gives you the chance to give him gold, or you lose 3 VP, which can be quite a lot.

Game preparation



First, put the border cards in their correct order and put 5 goods cards and 4 clan cards on the 9 free spaces in the middle of the border cards as shown. The robber starts above the border card with the number 1.



Every player gets in addition 4 VP chips (which I forgot in the picture), 2 of each good and one gold. Turn over the goods and clan cards.

The game lasts over at most 12 rounds. Every round, do the following 3 steps:

1. Move the robber 1 space clockwise
He will come to a card, which no player may use this round. If the robber gets to a robbery card, every player chooses wheter to give up goods/gold or VP, just as the card wants you to. Afterwards, the robber is put on the next space.

2. Put your 3 Targi figures on the boarder cards

Beginning with the starting player, players alternately put their Targi figures on the border cards that are not robberies. There are some rules for putting your figures on the border cards:

- You cannot put a figure on the space the robber is standing on.
- There can only be 1 figure on every card.
- You must not put your figure opposite to a opponent's figure. It is though allowed to put your figure opposite to one of your own figures.

So, for example: In the above example blue could put his figure on the merchant ("Händler"), or the pepper below, the silversmith ("Silberschmied"), the pepper to the left of it, or the salt or the clan expansion ("Stammeserweiterung") on the left border cards.

In this example, blue could only take the Silversmith or one of the remaining pepper cards.


After everyone has placed his 3 Targi figures, everyone gets two more stones to place. And this is the tricky part of the game: You imagine lines going away from your just placed Targi figures and place your stones at the intersections of those lines. This is an unbelievably tricky mechanism that allows you and your opponent to try and destroy plans of the other one.

You will now have at most 5 of your figures on the board. Every figure will give you an action in the action phase.



3. Action phase
Beginning with the starting player, every player gets to take all of his actions. You may do your (up to 5) actions in any order you wish to.
In the upper example, white has the following 5 actions:
- The Caravans: Take a random card from the goods pile and gain whats on this card.
- The merchant: Swap 3 equal goods for 1 gold or 2 equal goods for 1 other good. You may use the merchant as often as you like and in any combination.
- The Fata morgana: May move on of the 2 stones on the 9 center cards on any other free one to use that action.
- The 2 pepper cards in the middle give the white player 3 pepper.
However, the white player may use the Fata Morgana to put any of his stones on any other of the center cards.

After center cards are used, they are taken out of the game and an new card is added. If the used card was a goods card, take a clan card and vice versa.

The blue player will get 1 dates, 1 pepper and 1 gold from the middle space. The clan expansion allows him to take one card from the clan card pile and either buy it, discard it or take it to his hand. Unfortunately, you may only have 1 card in your hand.

Blue's last action is the oasis card. He may buy this card for 2 dates, 1 pepper and 1 salt, giving him no special ability, but 2 VP at the end of the game. If he doesn't want to buy it (or can't) he may either add it to his hand (max. 1 card!), discard it or just don't use the action.

Cards are built in the following way: You build cards in front of you in 3 rows with at most 4 spaces. You may not move cards once you've built them, so you will have to decide in the beginning of the game wheter you will play risky or go save, since the positions of the symbols may give you a huge boost in the end scoring.



The game ends either after the round the first player has built 12 buildings or after 12 rounds. Your score is the sum of your VP chips, the VP on your cards and points for symbols.
For every row with 4 different symbols, you get 2 VP.
For every row with 4 equal symbols, you get 4 VP.
The player in this picture would have had 21 VP by cards and 4+2 VP for a row with 4 equal symbols and a row with 4 different symbols. The third row doesn't give any bonus VPs, since it is not finished.

The verdict

Though I read often that Targi doesn't have a large replayability, I cannot support this issue. There is a ton of different clan cards with different abilites. Some give you more goods, make it easier to get gold, use the robber's space, become friends with the robber so you don't get robbed ... and many more. It's very hard to use all of the cards you bought, but exactly this is the point of the game. The winner will be the player that was better in using his special abilities. Since you are limited to the cards in the middle, you will probably have a very hard time to get exactly the combos you like to. You can decide every round wheter to play conservative and go for what's best for you or just try to foil the other players plan. And after the first 3 games, Targi is normally played in under 40 minutes.

Andreas Steiger is my personal hero of 2012. Though he didn't save my life or something like that, he gave us a very elegant 2-player-game that hits my table very often. Though it's probably not a gateway game, it clearly is the correct choice for the nominee list of the Kennerspiel des Jahres.
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f s
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The point about it not being a gateway game is spot on. Its rather dry, it lays it mechanics very open, the theme is quite thin, the game can be unforgiving and there is zero ohh shiny factor. So, what is not to like?
The main problem with the game is the excessive card text and the lack of symbol coding or some other graphical means to make recognition easier. As it is, one basically has to remember what cards are where and that is a bit too much work even for many experienced gamers.

But I agree with your verdict: Very very good game.
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Ron
Austria
Vienna
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Devoted Follower of the Most Holy Church of the Evil Bob. Possessed and down the road to become chaotic, evil & naughty. All hail the Evil Bob and his Stargate.
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Si Fei wrote:
The point about it not being a gateway game is spot on. Its rather dry, it lays it mechanics very open, the theme is quite thin, the game can be unforgiving and there is zero ohh shiny factor. So, what is not to like?
The main problem with the game is the excessive card text and the lack of symbol coding or some other graphical means to make recognition easier. As it is, one basically has to remember what cards are where and that is a bit too much work even for many experienced gamers.

I just finished playing my first game and have to I agree with all your points, except with this one:

Si Fei wrote:
But I agree with your verdict: Very very good game.

I was totally bored after two or three turns - and that game lasted for more than one and a half hour. This game does not offer anything new. Place workers, collect goods, build. Think carefully. It isn't even pretty to look at. Oh, in the end, I won - 43:54. Don't ask me why. I haven't had the impression it was because of better play ...

But to be fair: we played it after a couple of 7 Wonders games. And that one is hard to beat meeple
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Paul Owen
United States
Lorton
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What a terrific review! My wife and I are big fans of Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League from Kosmos, so I am excited to try Targi. Gus and Co. (French website) rated it among the top two-player games of 2012.
http://gusandco.net/2012/10/28/top-2012-des-jeux-a-2/
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Thomas Schandl
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I'm not a fan of abstract games, but after 20+ games on yucata.de Targi became a favorite of mine.
After one gets to know the ins and outs of the game, the matches develop into tight battles for key cards and one discovers more and more tactical possiblities to improve one's position, mitigate bad luck and screw with the opponent.
I suspect after playing even more games one might even discover a stronger strategic component.
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