- Wettstreit der Könige -


Author: Reiner Knizia


Awards: none



Once again, Reiner Knizia has returned to the Cradle of Civilization, leading up to four players back into a time long before the birth of Christ when the fertile regions around Euphrat & Tigris became home of a blooming civilization...

Just like the boardgame which was released several years ago, the new cardgame by HANS IM GLÜCK now once again challenges the players to try their success in building a civilization which is well developed in the four areas of Citizens, Trade, Power and Agriculture. For each of these four areas exist cards in the game which represent that area, i.e. grey population cards, green market cards, red temple cards and blue farmer cards. During the course of the game a player will be assigned some of these cards which will form his "victory pile". At the end of the game, each player will separate and count the cards of each area in his victory pile. The game will be won by the player who has most cards in his weakest area. Thus, the game is not simply about collecting as many cards as possible, but instead it is concerned with developing a player´s kingdoms as balanced as possible in order to keep up in each of the four areas.

At the beginning of the game, each player is randomly dealt eight such civilization cards. Furthermore, each player receives tokens representing his four leaders (the grey King, the green Trader, the red Priest and the blue Farmer) and also one disaster card which he may use once during the game. To finish starting preparations, a row of 8 treasure cards is placed horizontally on the table. These are special kinds of temple cards and must be aligned in a way so that one card still can be placed between each pair of treasure cards and also that up to eight civilization cards might be placed in a row below each of the treasure cards. The cards below the treasure cards together with the treasure card will form a kingdom. If a card is placed between two treasure cards, two kingdoms will be joined into a larger one.

During his turn, a player now may spend two action points to make any of the following actions:

  • Move a leader (or bring him into the game)
  • Play a civilization card
  • Use a disaster card

When playing a leader, a player either may bring any of his leaders into play or move one of his leaders who is already in play. The leaders are important for the collection of cards for a player´s victory pile, since, if a player plays a civilization card into a kingdom where he has a correspondingly coloured leader, he is allowed to take an additional such civilization card from his hand and place this card onto his growing victory pile. Furthermore, some of the leaders have special abilities, so that the grey King effectively serves as a "joker", allowing the player to make the just described scoring in the kingdom with the King without having a correspondingly coloured leader in the kingdom. Another leader with a special ability is the green Trader who comes into action when two kingdoms are joined by placing a civilization card at the free space between two kingdoms. If the newly created larger kingdom contains a Trader, the player owning the Trader will be allowed to check whether the kingdom contains two or more treasure cards. If this should be the case, the player with the Trader is allowed to exchange all but one of these treasure cards for temple cards from his hand, adding those treasure cards to his own victory pile.


However, the real difficulties in the game begin when a conflict arises. Such a conflict may be caused by two constellations: Either a player moves one of his leaders into a kingdom where a leader of the same type already is present ("internal conflict"), or a player joins two kingdoms by playing a civilization card and the unification results in more than one leader of one or more types being present in the new kingdom ("external conflict").

In an internal conflict both players involved will have to solve the conflict by playing red temple cards. First the player who has placed the new leader into the kingdom will play some temple cards from his hand, and then the player whose leader already was present in the kingdom may decide whether he wants to meet the challenge by playing that many temple cards as well or whether he wants to withdraw his leader from the kingdom. In either case, the looser must take his leader back to his stockpile, while the winner gets one of the played red cards which he is allowed to place at his victory pile. Also, while comparing the strengths of the cards played by each of the players, a bonus is awarded for any leader present involved in the conflict who at the moment is standing on a temple card within that kingdom.

A bit more difficult are the external conflicts, since the joining of two kingdoms may result in more than one clash of leaders. Here the conflicts are successively decided until only one leader of each type is left in the new kingdom. The players solve the conflict by playing civilization cards with the same colour as the leader involved in a conflict, and the players receive a bonus for each such card which was already present in the original kingdom of the leader. Once again, the looser of a conflict has to withdraw his leader, whereas the winner may add one of the cards played in the conflict to his victory pile. After the conflict, all cards of the same colour will be removed from the original kingdom of the looser, thus symbolizing the total defeat of the looser in that area. This actually might result in gaps. Whereas gaps in the vertical kingdom rows may be closed by simply moving lower cards up, a horizontal gap might seperate two already joined kingdoms, one again splitting them into separate kingdoms.

An action which I have not explained so far is the disaster card. This card may be used by each player once in the whole game, and it can be used for removing any one civilization from a kingdom, provided that card is not a ship, a treasure or occupied by a leader. Finally, at the end of a player´s turn, a player refills his hand of playing cards to eight cards and play passes on to the next player.

A special situation which might arise is that a player might play a civilization card into a kingdom which is the fourth card of its kind in that kingdom. In such a situation the player of the fourth car may decide to build a ship, provided the correspondingly coloured ship is still available. In total, three ships exist in the game, and each of the ships bears the colour blue plus one of the three other colours in the game. If a player wants to build a ship, he must be able to take a ship with the same colour as the civilization card he played. If the ship is available, the vour civilization cards are removed from the kingdom and replaced by the ship. The ship has the benefit that a player who has a matching coloured leader in the kingdom each round is allowed to place a matching coloured civilization card from his hand onto his victory stack.

The game comes to its end when either the stack of civilization cards is not sufficient anymore to refill a player´s hand to eight cards after his turn or when, at the end of a turn, only one treasure card is left on the table. When the game ends, the players will count through their victory stacks to find out how many cards they hand got in each civilization area. Treasure cards are jokers which can be added to one of the four areas, and in the end the game will be won by the player who has the strongest, equally developed civilization. Thus, the winner is the player with most cards in his weakest area.

As might be seen already from this description of the rules, Euphrat & Tigris by no means is as simple as many other well-known cardgames. Quite the opposite, the game holds what the box promises - it is not less but a small brother of the older boardgame version and it is perfectly capable of offering a good deal of playing depth on its own right. As a matter of fact, during play I first was rather hard pressed to make use of all the strategic options which the game has to offer. As with most games from Reiner Knizia, Euphart & Tigris needs the player to invest some time playing the game in order to get a grasp on the rules, but once the basic playing mechanisms of the game are understood it offers quite a strategic challenge to the players.

Due to the somewhat unexpected high strategic value of the game I would not really recommend it as a family game, but instead it should be better placed with gaming freaks who like an especially challenging game. To some amount the publisher also seems to see this consequence, since the game is recommended from 12 years onward, a rather high recommended playing age for a game from HANS IM GLÜCK. Apart from the strategic challenge, players also get a game with a good sized amount of player interaction, since the constant warring for placing a player´s leaders into the most important kingdoms keeps the players busy with a lot of leader movement. To sum it up, the game really can be recommended to the more seasoned players - this group is going to like the game a lot!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany