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THURN AND TAXIS: POWER AND GLORY

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $24.95)

 

As nice as it is to be winning the Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year Award), such accolades can cause problems. The biggest problem is, of course, how do you follow such a great success! The answer, for designers Karen & Andreas Seyfarth, seemed fairly simple – bring out an expansion – and they did – with Thurn and Taxis: Power and Glory. Once again, players are delivering the mail but now find ourselves covering a different part of Europe – with a few twists.thurnpower

Thurn and Taxis: Power and Glory is not a complete game unto itself. You will need the original Thurn and Taxis to play as the original supplies the necessary wooden pieces. (Or, of course, you could scrounge around your game collection and come up with a suitable army of wood to do the job.) What you will find within the box is a new gameboard, 4 carriage cards, 69 city cards (3 each of the 23 cities on the board) and 39 bonus tiles.

The expansion plays essentially as the original does. (For a reminder how Thurn and Taxis plays, you can refer to our feature in the Fall 2006 GA REPORT.) But there are some interesting differences.

The new board takes players north as the geography has changed. Mail delivery now includes areas outside of Germany including Holland, Belgium and a bunch of “free cities” (independent of regional affiliation): Bremen, Hamburg, Lubeck and Frankfurt. The large central area of Thurn and Taxis has its counterpart in Preussen but here it is divided, separated by the presence of Hannover and Göttingen, making traveling around and connecting the area just a bit more challenging.

Cards may be used as usthurnpower2ual in placing pieces in different areas but, besides naming a place, the cards contain another piece of information: horseshoes. One, two or three horseshoes appear on each card. The front of the card displays the usual information AND displays horseshoes; ALL card backs are the same EXCEPT for a display of one, two or three horseshoes.

Cards may be played as usual OR they may be played FACE DOWN to create a “train of horses” pulling the player’s carriage. When a player decides to complete a route, he MUST have enough horses (i.e. horseshoes) pulling his carriage as there are cards in his route. Once scored, the regular cards AND the horseshoe cards are discarded.

As in the original, players gather points by placing houses throughout regions, cashing in long runs of cards etc. The game ends, as in its predecessor, when all of a player’s houses have been placed which allows anyone who hasn’t had an equal number of turns to make a final attempt to snatch a few more points before totals are computed. The player with the most points wins.

(And for those who simply can’t get enough of this game, be aware that the October (5/06) issue of Spielbox magazine included a small expansion for the game called Thurn and Taxis: The Messenger of the Princess which included 28 tiles (“notable letters”) and a “messenger of the princess” token. With this expansion, players receive a noble letter when placing the first house in an area. Noble letters can be used to give a player essentially extra actions in a turn. The messenger token goes to a player who does not receive a new carriage because the route it too short. Ownership of the messenger reduces the cost of using noble letters for actions but this token can change from player to player as the game progresses with the player controlling it at game’s end getting a one Victory Point bonus added to his final score.)

Thurn and Taxis: Power and Glory is a bit more forgiving than its predecessor and that makes it more popular among some players. Since you now have a second and important use for all cards (that is, creating a string of horses to power your route travel), the option to flush away the tableau of available cards tends not to be used as much. Also, by being able to see the horseshoes on the back of the cards, even cards of cities that are completely worthless to you take on value as horses. The presence of independent cities provide easier opportunities to earn bonus tiles although, only one bonus tile is available per city and you can only pick up one of these bonus tiles per route.

Thurn and Taxis: Power and Glory is a strong companion piece to the Thurn and Taxis world and certainly a worthwhile addition for those thousands of gamers who have enjoyed the original design. – – – – – – – – — – -Herb Levy


 

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