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Through the Desert» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Why go Through the Desert when you can stay and score points rss

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Todd Barker
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This is honestly one of my favourite games out there. Think of it as Kingdom Builder played only in the desert sections, and the 3 ways to score stay the same every time you play. What are you left with? A perfected version of Kingdom Builder where you get to strategize and aren’t at the mercy of random card drawing, oh and the pieces you are placing are more interesting than plain wooden blocks too!

For a complete review with full sized images go to http://toddsboardgames.blogspot.ca/2013/02/through-desert.ht...

Objective: Your objective is to be the player with the most victory points by the end of the game. The game ends as soon as the last camel of a colour is taken.

Setup: The setup for Through the Desert is my least favourite part, separate the camels by colour and if you are playing with only 2 or 3 players you will need to take some out. Next randomly place the waterhole markers face up on the hexes containing black circles. Next place the Oasis trees onto the hexes marked with trees. Note that with 2 and 3 players there is a thick solid black line that separates a section of the game board, nothing should be placed on the smaller part of this section.

After all these have been placed players take turns placing 1 camel rider on the board. This is important because when you place a camel it must always connect to a camel of the same colour. You cannot place a camel rider adjacent to a: Waterhole, Oasis, Another player’s camel. After all camel riders have been placed you are ready to begin playing Through the Desert.

Note that both of the red player's camel riders have been placed incorrectly.

Game Play: Every turn a player chooses 2 camels of any colour combination he/she chooses and places them so that they are adjacent to their camel of the matching colour.
Scoring Points: When I said there were 3 ways to score I lied, there are 4.

Oasis: Moving next to an Oasis (giant green tree) scores you 5 points every NEW Oasis EACH of your caravans reach. That is each colour camel can score each oasis only one time.

The orange player's pink camels score 10 points (5 for each oasis), however the blue camel does not score 10 points for touching the same oasis twice.

Waterhole: Water is scarce in the desert, thus visiting a waterhole is good! When a camel is placed on top of a hex containing a waterhole marker, the player takes and keeps that marker. It is worth points equal to its printed value.

Sections: Completing a closed section with one colour will score you 1 point for each hex inside of the enclosed area. You can use the mountains and game board edge as walls of your sections. You cannot enclose an Oasis or other players’ camels.

The area behind the red player's camels is enclosed, at the end of the game this section will be worth 1 point for each hex for a total of 13 points.

Longest Caravan: At the end of the game (when one colour camel runs out) 10 points are awarded to the player with the longest of each colour caravan. If there is a tie, the tied players each score 5 points.

Components: Through the Desert has some awesome components, the player colours are not as plain and boring as in other games, although the camels are not the coolest colours...they are different not the usual red,yellow,blue,green we see in most games. The oasis trees and waterhole markers are good and allow for a number of setups, my only real beef is with the score markers, all points you score are kept track of individually and you get little score markers, then when the game is over you have to add them all up and take your opponent's word that that is how many points they got, I think a proper score board is needed.

Who will enjoy playing Through the Desert?

Family Gamers: Simple rules, no conflict, no adult themes, makes you think and strategize, freaking camels. What else could you want in a family game?

Casual Gamers: Simple rules, relatively fast play time, can screw your buddy, random board setup for replay value, low downtime, easy to learn but gets you hooked. Everything you want in a casual game.

Gamer Gamers: In depth planning and strategizing, you can directly control when the game ends, multiple ways to score, room for multiple viable strategies, no random factors. As long as you are not a serious gamer who needs your conflict/combat fix Through the Desert makes for a great strategy
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Fernando Robert Yu
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This is indeed a game which is deeper and richer than it looks.

Great game!
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Michael R.
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This was one of my favourite games until recently when I played Kingdom Builder. While TTD is great, in many respects KB has 'fired' it due to its enhanced features.
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Luke Morris
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mjrobertson wrote:
This was one of my favourite games until recently when I played Kingdom Builder. While TTD is great, in many respects KB has 'fired' it due to its enhanced features.



Through the Desert has the most important enhanced feature - the delightful pastel camels.


I really like Through the Desert and have done for years now.
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Todd Barker
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mjrobertson wrote:
This was one of my favourite games until recently when I played Kingdom Builder. While TTD is great, in many respects KB has 'fired' it due to its enhanced features.


What do you consider to be the 'enhanced features'?

Personally I prefer TTD because it is less random, I have played KB enough times to be on the strategy side of the 'random card draw vs strategy debate'. If you think of the camels as the different terrains, I prefer TTD because you choose where to expand instead of you are told where to expand now find the best place.

I also prefer TTD because there is virtually no downtime, with the exact same gaming group KB takes more than twice as long.

KB definitely has its silver linings though, I love some of the scoring options (some like Discoveries I do not) The main point that KB holds over TTD is replay ability with victory cards and the board changes every game.

In summary I much prefer TTD, but it's easy to burn out on. If you don't own a wide variety of games and will be playing your new game a ton, get KB.
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Todd Barker
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HamsterOfFury wrote:

Through the Desert has the most important enhanced feature - the delightful pastel camels.


Exactly! I hate the generic colours used in 90% of games out there, other than the yellow/white in TTD the colour scheme is fantastic. Alien Frontiers also has some epic colours.
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Michael R.
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By enhanced features I mean the scoring variability and map variability in KB. Don't get me wrong, I love TTD but for me KB has the long term edge on replayability. It's diferent each time, whereas TTD gets kind of samey after a while. TTD is a tighter and better integrated design - nothing about it feels unnecessary or tacked on. KB feels a bit over expanded and not all of its parts mesh perfectly together. That said, I would not hesitate to recommend TTD to anyone looking to add a deep but easily learned game to their collection.
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Todd Barker
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mjrobertson wrote:
By enhanced features I mean the scoring variability and map variability in KB. Don't get me wrong, I love TTD but for me KB has the long term edge on replayability. It's diferent each time, whereas TTD gets kind of samey after a while. TTD is a tighter and better integrated design - nothing about it feels unnecessary or tacked on. KB feels a bit over expanded and not all of its parts mesh perfectly together. That said, I would not hesitate to recommend TTD to anyone looking to add a deep but easily learned game to their collection.


Well said, both games certainly have their plus sides, I would recommend either of them although not necessarily to the same people.
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Dice Man
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again forgot all about this old game, played it many times years ago. Was one of my first eurogames. It might still be in the bottom of the closet, will have to look this weekend and maybe bring it back out for a quick game or 2.
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Kim Possible
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I've never actually played Through the Desert, but I've heard so many good things that I think I might just have to pick up a copy. The little camels do look like fun.
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Rose Kriedemann
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Wow, this honestly is the first "Euro" style game I ever played and it was great to read the reviews. It is funny how we go for the trend and play what is current while we forget some of the older ones.
If you haven't played this - I give it a ten for an intro level game that wasn't too simplistic. Guys just have to be manly and not worry about touching pink camels!
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Mathue Faulkner
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I wasn't ever a fan of Through the Desert, but I enjoy Kingdom Builder as a light family game.
 
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Luke Hector
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Kingdom Builder as per my podcast is one of the worst games I've ever played. It's just completely random and devoid of any theme or fun.

Based on that though, the prospect of playing another version of KB isn't appealing to me although it's been brought to our gaming club tonight - do I dare see if TTD could do what KB was meant to do?
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Russ Williams
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farmergiles wrote:
It's just completely random

I am sincerely curious what you mean by "completely random".

To me, that means that skill or strategy plays no role in determining the winner, because:
1. there are no decisions, e.g. Candyland
or
2. the decisions literally make no difference (e.g. "pick a number, and then we'll flip a coin: heads I win, tails you win")
or
3. the correct decisions are so obvious that everyone easily plays optimally, e.g. Tic-Tac-Toe.

Yet in Kingdom Builder you clearly have decisions, and the decisions you make clearly have an effect on your likelihood of winning, and the best decisions are often not clear.
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Christopher Dearlove
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farmergiles wrote:
Kingdom Builder as per my podcast is one of the worst games I've ever played. It's just completely random and devoid of any theme or fun.

Based on that though, the prospect of playing another version of KB isn't appealing to me although it's been brought to our gaming club tonight - do I dare see if TTD could do what KB was meant to do?


There is no randomness in TTD, so maybe.

Edit: No post setup randomness I mean.
 
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Mark L
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Good review! I particularly like the way you break it down at the end for different types of gamer.

I've never played Kingdom Builder so can't compare, but TTD is a great little game, and surprisingly deep.

One small rules point regarding setup:

toddbarker wrote:
After all these have been placed players take turns placing 1 camel rider on the board. This is important because when you place a camel it must always connect to a camel of the same colour. You cannot place a camel rider adjacent to a: Waterhole, Oasis, Another player’s camel.

That's not quite correct. You may place your caravan leaders adjacent to waterholes, just not on them.
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Retired Hurt

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russ wrote:
farmergiles wrote:
It's just completely random

I am sincerely curious what you mean by "completely random".

To me, that means that skill or strategy plays no role in determining the winner, because:
1. there are no decisions, e.g. Candyland
or
2. the decisions literally make no difference (e.g. "pick a number, and then we'll flip a coin: heads I win, tails you win")
or
3. the correct decisions are so obvious that everyone easily plays optimally, e.g. Tic-Tac-Toe.

Yet in Kingdom Builder you clearly have decisions, and the decisions you make clearly have an effect on your likelihood of winning, and the best decisions are often not clear.


If randomness means risking to be screwed by the draw of the cards, then it is a good point, because in this game much more than in other ones you may devise ways to avoid depending from the draw, e.g. arranging not to touch some specific ground type anymore by displacing blocks. I'll go so far as to pretend that it's one of the main strategical features of the game.

 
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Andy Appleseed
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I would invite anyone who says something to the effect of Kingdom Builder is "completely random" to play it via BsW online.

Speaking from personal experience, players there can wrap up all 8 special power tiles on the board and get to just about anywhere they want to be.

You can certainly get screwed over with a triple terrain draw, but strategizing for flexibility and maximizing the odds is what the game is about.
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