Reviewed by Herb Levy
TARGI: THE EXPANSION (Kosmos, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 60 minutes; $19.95)
Several years ago, a brilliant 2 player Euro game called Targi finally appeared on our shores in an English language edition (and featured in the Fall 2018 GA Report). Now, designer Andreas Steiger has invited us back to the desert with an expansion that adds new elements to the game in Targi: The Expansion.
Targi: The Expansion comes in the same size box as the original game (and other games in the Kosmos 2 player series) with the basic game play of the original intact. (You need the base game to use the expansion. This is NOT a stand-alone game. To check out the original game play, check out the Flashback this issue!) But the extra elements add to the choices and challenges presented by the original.
The Expansion maintains the core mechanism of placing your pieces to create a crisscrossing to claim cards in the center of the display. But now, piece placement expands with new areas and effects to consider by introducing Sand Dune cards, tweaks to Tribe cards, water (a valuable commodity in the desert) and a new purple figure, the Targia, to the game.
As in the original, the perimeter of the playing area consists of 16 cards but the expansion replaces 10 of them with similar (but different) cards. Goods cards, showing water, are mixed into the goods deck while the tribe cards of the game are replaced by those in the expansion. Players begin the game with 1 each of the basic resources (salt, pepper and dates), 1 gold and 2 waters. They also begin with 4 Victory Points. The robber still starts at the first card on the perimeter (card #1) but the new Targia figure begins on card #15.
The expansion follows the rules of the base game with a few exceptions:
Tribe cards still come in five “suits” but many of the new tribe cards have additional symbols on them which indicate a special ability when placed. A “lightning bolt” triggers an immediate effect (such as more resources), an “infinity” sign represents an ongoing effect, a “triangle” bestows a one time action that may be used any time at the player’s discretion and an “exclamation point” awards additional Victory Points at the end of play if certain goals are met. Some Tribe cards have a dual value. In some cases, there is a choice as to what items to give up in order to place the card in your display; in others (indicated by parentheses), the additional cost is optional and will bestow an immediate VP bonus if paid.
The purple Targia figure is new and offers players a way to get an additional resource. Unlike the space occupied by the robber, a player may share the space with the Targia, A player occupying the same space as the Targia may either get one goods token (dates, pepper, salt) from supply OR return a goods token to supply and draw the top card from the goods deck, receiving the goods shown on that card in return. (Like the robber, the Targia advances one space per turn, in the opposite direction of the robber.)
Water is a new resource (it is NOT considered a good) and offers some flexibility. Water is often part of the cost of a tribe card, can be converted to goods or gold and, at end game scoring is worth VPs (at the exchange rate of 2 water = 1 VP).
Finally, there are Sand Dune cards. That card deck is shuffled and three of these placed alongside the playing area. These are, in effect, chance cards but, unlike a blind draw, you know what they are AND they are all beneficial. Instead of placing a figure along the play area perimeter, a player may opt to claim (with a figure) one of these cards. These cards offer additional resources or special powers (such as reactivating one of those one time only Tribe cards, claiming unclaimed Tribe cards from the play area and more). Of course, this means that the player will have one less card claimed in the play area. Sand dune cards are beneficial but you have to weigh a particular card’s benefit against what card you can claim from the “board”.
Final scoring occurs, as in the base game, when a player’s tableau of 12 cards is reached or if the robber reaches the final, 16th, space on the play area’s perimeter. Scoring remains the same with water VPs and exclamation tribe card bonuses added. The player with the highest score wins!
For the sake of clarification, two things must be mentioned:
One of the Tribe cards states that, at the end of the game, the Victory Point value of the cards to the left of that card are doubled. This is an error. It is only the single CARD to the left that gets doubled. Also, in the base game and in the expansion, the word “symbol” is used to describe the five Tribe suits AND the lightning bolt, exclamation point etc. found on the Tribe cards in the expansion. In all cases, symbol refers to the five Tribe suits only.
The additional design elements found here add a few clever twists. The presence of water makes getting gold, the hardest resource to get, a bit easier but at a cost. Spending water means spending Victory Points. Claiming a Sand Dune card lessens your presence in the main play area. Which is more valuable? This makes players face tough, meaningful decisions but do not add to the game’s complexity which, in itself, is a neat trick.
It is hard to improve upon such a well-crafted game as Targi. It is also too often true that expansions to successful games end up failing to deliver promised “improvements” to the originals. For these reasons and more, it is understandable to be skeptical when a new expansion comes along. But you can put your skepticism to rest. Targi: The Expansion works so well that it actually elevates the game play of the original and that’s impressive! – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy
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