Published on June 4th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich1
Trading in the Sand
A Review of Targi:
We are now living in a time where I can be very specific when looking for a board game to play. If you want a modernized Euro game set in the dystopian future-there’s a game for that. Want a casual party card game about dueling wizards- there are a handful to choose from. If you’re a fan of medieval Europe, Cthulhu and generic fantasy races in conflict- there are hundreds of ways to enjoy those themes with a variety of different gameplay styles and mechanics.
Targi is an award-winning game that fits a niche that I didn’t even know that I wanted in games: a more casual, shorter time-commitment Euro-style game that doesn’t dumb down the strategy aspect. Targi molds the common Euro-style trading game into a two player game that is a fun and challenging. The game’s setting and traders are inspired by the nomadic Tuareg tribes common in the North African deserts.
(The pictures featured in this article are from the Spanish translation of the game. We received an overflow, non-english copy from Andreas Steiger, the designer himself to review on Across The Board Games.)
The small Targi box is dwarfed by all the other worker placement games that surround it on our shelf. Though small in stature, Targi features card art and designs that are high quality and easy to understand for those familiar with trading games. As a desert trading game set in North Africa, players won’t see sheep, wood, iron and other goods commonly traded in Euro games. Instead, players are treated to the new and regionally important goods of salt, pepper and dates. Each good is represented by a cardboard circle with a vibrant illustration which I prefer over colored cubes. The victory point symbol in this game is a silver cross instead of a laurel or coin, but is easily recognized as a symbol of influence.
While most of the pieces take a non-traditional turn in their design and art, Targi includes meeples that appear to be custom shapes for their game; however compared to the other gorgeous illustrations these meeples are underwhelming. There isn’t anything wrong with the meeples per se but when all the other pieces feel so unique, a colored meeple and cylinder marker seem out of place. Luckily there are artists out there who can make custom figurines for Targi to spice up the character tokens. All in all, Targi features high-quality and unique pieces for a small game that is well worth the price.
Targi is one of the easiest games to set up after your first play through and is a Euro game experience for two players in under an hour. Players represent two nomadic tribes looking to travel the desert in search of tribes to trade with and potentially integrate into their own tribe. Players need a good sized table to set up Targi because their is a “board” type set up that requires space.
The “board” is composed of cards #1-16 arranged in an rectangular path beginning with #1 as the second card in the first row continuing in numerical order until reaching #16 in the top left corner. This forms the path with locations that the players visit and is the path the robber travels down as the game progresses. The center pot of cards is composed of five goods and four tribes cards which are replaced with the other card type after that card is claimed by a player (so a goods card is replaced by a tribe card when it is removed and a tribe card is replaced with a goods card).
Players take turns placing their tribesmen one at a time on the outer cards. The outer ring of cards lets a player perform that action and those actions range from the basic grab-a-resource, exchange resources for gold and draw or trade a tribe card from your hand. When placing tribesmen, players cannot place their tribesman at a location that faces another meeple, even their own which severely limits a player’s placement as the turn continues making Targi a surprisingly intense strategy game. Also the placement of a players’ three tribesmen will also indicate what cards in the center that player will have influence over.
Once all the tribesmen have been placed, players find the intersecting lines between their meeples and place their house marker on the card in the middle. Players then take actions and remove cards from the pot in any order they choose making sure to remove their tokens as they go. This is how the turns continue for the entire game with a few restrictions: the robber moves around the board and blocks players from a space each turn. As the robber moves to each corner card, a raid occurs where each player must sacrifice the displayed goods or victory points. As the game progresses the raids will demand more of the players.
To win at Targi, a player needs the most victory points at the end of turn after the last raid indicated by card #16. Victory points are tallied by the number of silver crosses, tribe influence, leftover goods and gold at the end of the game.
The combination of worker placement, set collection and resource management gameplay make Targi one of the most complex and strategy focused two player games I’ve ever played. It has a unique, well-integrated theme and the randomly selected board game state makes Targi a game with lots of re-playability. It fits that perfect niche of a worker placement game, with a short time commitment, without losing challenging gameplay.
Finding an engaging two-player game that doesn’t feel like an abstract strategy game (like chess) or overly complex/fiddly (like Magic the Gathering) is really difficult to do. If I haven’t been exploding with enough praise, let me say it plainly that Targi is my new favorite two player game and I highly recommend getting a copy for you and your gaming buddy to play!