Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Roman Mather


No. of Players:
2 - 5



To my mind, a very interesting account of a caravan travelling through endless deserts has been made by ARGENTUM. In 1001 Karawane, the players set up a modular gameboard which contains one fixed region with the trade base of all participation players and three different desert regions in which face down desert tiles have been spread. It is the aim of the players to collect three magical artefacts (Flying Carpet, Magic Lamp, Amulet), each of which can be found in a different part of the desert. Alternatively, a player also may win by earning a certain amount of Gold by trading, thus enabling him to purchase the wanted artefacts .

At the beginning of a voyage into the desert, each player may chose to equip his Caravan with a combination of Trading goods, Guards, Water. Of course, the loading capacity of a caravan is limited, and so the players only may chose six of the mentioned people and resources to carry with them. Then the players set of for a voyage into the unknown, travelling three spaces per turn and approaching the face down parts of the gameboard.

During his travel in the desert, a player may look at the desert tiles he crosses, and he might stumble upon useful places like an Oasis so that he can save his water during this turn or a Caravan-post where so that guards can be saved. Otherwise, a Caravan uses up one unit of water by the end of the turn, and at the beginning of a turn a card showing either one, two or none Raiders had revealed which now may force the player to show that he has more Guards than there are Raiders or to discard one Guard card.

Likewise, the players may encounter Cities where they can exchange their Trade Goods for Gold, and in each section of the desert there will be one City, one Oasis and one Caravan-post which can be discovered. In addition, each of the three sections also houses a special place, and at these places the players may find the magical artefacts which are needed to win the game.

However, one of the decisive elements of the rules is that the players do not reveal the desert tiles they cross to the other players, and even if they make use of the special abilities of a space they will not have to reveal the space to show that they are allowed to do so. Thus, there is a possibility for cheating in the game, but this may actually be discovered if another player later wants to use a tile as well and also playing this way actually would spoil an otherwise quite clever idea.

The point about not revealing tiles is that a player then has the option not to make use of the possibilities offered by the space, but instead may proceed as if nothing had happened. This may be done to foil the other players about the whereabouts of the different places which can be found in this section of the desert, since the quick purchase of an artefact would draw the other player's attention since they now would know where to get this artefact.

Of strategic importance also are the four Map/Genie counters which each player receives at the beginning of the game. A Genie may be used to exchange two unrevealed tiles anywhere on the gameboard, and if a caravan should be in such a tile it would change its position together with the tile. A Map on the other hand can be used to reveal a tile, fixing it to it permanent position and preventing a Caravan to be misplaced. On the other hand, a revealed City is visited by many other merchants, so that trade at a revealed City is restricted to two Trading Goods per Caravan.

The counters are double sided and may be used either as Genies or Maps, and especially during the endgame they prove to be rather valuable since they can be used to create quite a few different shortcuts and delays. Players who have successfully acquired the third artefact might find themselves in the backyard of the desert if they do not have a map to secure their current position, and there is a danger of such a Caravan running out of water and its owner being forced to discard all cards currently carried by the Caravan. The only possibility to get anything permanently is to return the Caravan to the starting town, where all returned Gold and artefacts will be stored by the player.

I really liked this game due to the fact that the movement over facedown tiles and the allowance only for the active player to check out a tile's true nature make the game exciting and add a good degree suspense. On the one hand, players will have to memorize beneficial places they have found in the desert, and they also have to ask themselves whether they really should reveal a tile's position by interacting with it, or whether they should turn around to search for even other tiles in order to collect more knowledge. Memory, bluffing and a good deal of interaction through the special counters all are part of the game, and although the desert certainly is build up at random all players will have to search the desert on equal terms. Rounding up my good impression, the game includes some nice graphics and full English rules.

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Copyright © 2007 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany