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Istanbul

We are:

Turkish tradesman


Trying to:

Walk around the market district and tell your apprentices, “Wait here until I come get you.”

 Score Board

Family Score:

65.65

Kids' Score:

67.6

Adults' Score:

63.8

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Kids Say:


“I really liked the simplicity of Istanbul. All you had to learn was what to do at each market location. I managed to play and win without exploring half of the options.  Since you have to leave a worker everywhere you go and pick them up to move more, you end up doubling back rather than visiting new places. Thus, out of the 16 locations, I ended up focusing on the same five or six over and over again. I would be doing my thing in my corner, and watching as everyone else, with their own strategies, did their things. Still, I enjoyed how balanced it was. It ended up being a pretty close game."


"I want to play Istanbul a few more times so I can try all the different strategies, and spend more time fidgeting with the ruby pieces, which have a delightful hand-feel."


"Istanbul is not a game that I recommend for the weak-minded. It can be hard to keep track of all of the actions that you can take in a turn. I will say, though, that it is very easy to find loopholes in the game design/economy that can tipped the game in my favor, and I won easily. I like how you can clearly see how close everyone is to winning."



Adults Say:


"Istanbul is a game of plenty.  It’s a relatively short, low-stress environment where you skip around a 16-location market, amassing rubies.  About 45 minutes after the first move, when you get 5 rubies, you win.  Rubies are attainable in a variety of ways:  you can get money to buy them, get resources to trade for them, get cards to make yourself too powerful not to have them, or get a criminal relative to any of these for you.  You can use legitimate market mechanisms or take advantage of the seedy underbelly that is the Istanbul black market and tea room circuit.   The choices abound, so there’s almost always some productive move to make.  (This can be comforting when you’re playing with seasoned gamers and are afraid of making inadvertent poor choices.  Few poor choices here, so you can always justify yourself socially after the fact, if it matters to you.)"


"The game contains a few original mechanics that make things interesting.  For example, in Istanbul, YOU are not just a person.  You’re a stack of discs, each of which represents an apprentice.  Every time you travel to a location and do a thing, you have to leave an apprentice behind.  And when you run out of apprentices, you can’t move anymore without picking them up.  This requires a bit of planning as to where you’d like to expend energies, and where you might want to return later.  There’s only one square that allows you to call them all home at once with an 'olly olly oxen free!' And it wastes a turn.  So, strategic leaping around the board is better.)"


"However you choose to get your rubies, there’s a significant advantage to being the first to do anything.  The first person to choose any particular strategy usually pays less in money or resources, as a benefit for having picked it.  This keeps the players on a fairly even keel with each other as they dance around the board. Finally, the market locations aren’t set in certain positions.  You can move them around every game, making things e asier or harder to get to."


"If I have only one gripe, which is that Istanbul doesn't have a mechanism for helping out players who are behind. If you waste a few moves early on, you spend the rest of the game trying to play catch-up while the rich get richer."  


"The kids won the first two games we played, mostly by making risky choices and winning big in the gambling circuit.  Thus, Istanbul is not great for imparting life lessons on children. There are games that work similarly that invite better strategic thinking.  But hey, who needs to think all the time?  Istanbul is a great family game, and -- for my lira -- gets the PAHO Seal of Approval as a gateway game."