Review: Five Tribes – sultan of Sheherazade region

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There are . Old and almost without any contact with our progressive civilization. And some men arrived there, hoping to change their minds. Old shaman is dead and prophecy tells of a men, who comes to them and will lead them to prosperity. It can be anybody. Even you!

We will not refuse and take part in this battle. This can be done, because of boardgame Five Tribes, created by in . This is new game from ’s workshop and oriental illustrations were authored by Clement Masson. Whole game is then distributed across Europe by .

Classical square boxes welcomes us with a picture of one oasis and local characters, who fight for Sultan’s affection. And his throne is on the line. And inside the box, you can expect a lot of cardboard pieces. The largest ones are villages and other places (like a marketplace or oases), each piece has a value in its corner. Larger dimensions belong also to two boards and both relate to player order – one will be seeing the fight, while the other only hold result afterwards.

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Rest of the space in the cardboard part of the box is filled with gold coins. And now we get to cards: resources (nine types, for example ivory, papyrus, spices or fish), but even more important cards genies. And then, there are wooden figures – camels and pawns for players and ninety wooden figures serving as tribe markers – visionaries, elders, traders, builders and assassins. Wooden figurines are also used to represent palm trees and palaces and everything ends with a canvas bag and a scoring pad.

At the beginning of the game, players build a full map of buildings and places to visit from tiles. Sultanate has a size six times five pieces and each of these thirty places gets now three randomly drawn tribe pawns. Players can then choose any color and get their camels and pointers together with fifty gold coins. Starting order will be determined randomly, but it will does not last long like this. From a shuffled deck of cards, first nine resources are revealed and second deck serves as base for revealing three genies.

Each round will be started by fighting for the order. In turn based on the last round (or randomly determined at the beginning), players can place their pawn on any of order positions, that come in rising prices. Who is willing to pay the most will have the opportunity to play first. These bidding pawns yet remain on their positions and players will move them back after completing their turn.

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At that moment, a player may select any piece, that contains at least one tribe panw. He picks up all pawns and will be placing them on adjacent tiles, nicely one after the other. Positions of these new homes for tribe figures must always be adjacent and each can accommodate only one new member. Movement diagonally is not allowed. Players must be very careful, because the final pieces must end its journey on position, where he already has at least one friend of the same color.

Thus, player must plan very well throughout the distribution group. All pieces of the finishing color can now be picked up again in his fist. This time, he can activate some actions for their color – one type of tribe will bring victory points, while others can be exchanged for cards. If removing pieces did empty the entire location on the map and it does not contain any figure, then a player can claim this area for himself. He does that by marking it with his camel.

Last position of his movement also plays a role in the very end of the player’s turn. The plate, which was the last to welcome a tribesmen now brings player yet another action. This may represent an option to add oasis or palace on it, but also to pick up any market or genie card. At the end of the round, players can then sell obtained goods in sets for finance.

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Offer of both card types for another player is replenished, and other moving pieces may continue. Game continues and is waiting for one of the two conditions. It is likely, that supply of camels will be exhausted by one player. But it may also be situation, where no tribe member can be moved anymore. Players now add up their income of victory points from a variety of sources, and whoever has the most is the winner.

Five Tribes is a game, that can deceive a little with its title image and logo of the company. This will not be another addition to exciting themed games such as The Mystery of the Abbey or Cleopatra, but this time everything is subordinated to positional play. Five Tribes are a puzzle, with which does not interfere almost no coincidence. However, game pieces bring at least some pawn elimination, but no true conflicts.

Moving figures on adjacent positions is not entirely new mechanic, but emphasis on the last location of each movement is very interesting and original. Every turn is such a puzzle for players, who are trying to find the perfect move. At the beginning, it’s not such a problem, because pawns are standing on all tiles. But as number of free locations and tiles is increasing, planning for a player is getting harder and thus longer. Solution to this problem is using an hourglass.

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However, this does not mean, that the game would not be interesting. Exactly the opposite. It’s still a bit point salad with lots of opportunities to collect some rewards. Actually, it does not so much matter, what you do, you always get some of those precious points. Only question is, whether there will be enough of those. But it also means, that until the end of the game, it is not sure, who will actually be the winner.

Minor criticism is indeed in place, but game is brilliantly conceived and entertaining. If you like thinking and analysing. Game excels in great variability, because the disposition of the pawns will be different every time, as well as a sets of cards on offer. And all this means, that each logical task before players will be different, and re-creates the challenge again.

Everything is really challenging, but this is rather to be welcomed. There is plethora of options what to perform each round and choice depends only on players. And they will see, if their choices were correct ones. Points are flying from all sides, but the most important thing is to terminate movement in the right place. It can bring players control of locations (very important) and therefore rewards.

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Game time itself is something of a puzzle. It is possible to finish all this within thirty minutes (with two), but game can equally stretch to more than a double. You can usually count with something around forty five minutes. Of course, the more players, the longer game becomes (with gametime reaching over an hour with four!). However, game works in all counts, although the best is with three.

Theme is not crucial at all and setting the game to world of sultans is certainly not bad. Because it looks really good. Indeed, most games with camels are interesting. Overall, it is to be commended on illustrations and clarity, even when the game has colorful pawns, which could begin to disappear on tiles.

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Five Tribes is an excellent candidate, if you want a thoughtful smart game, which also looks good. In this category, it rates among the very best, even though we have not emphasised enough our enthusiasm during review. The rules are simple, but thinking and many options in each round are exceptional. Five Tribes does have some flaws, but they primarily concern style of the whole game. Otherwise, its true, that this is a very good game.

DesignerBruno Cathala
ArtistClément Masson
PublisherDays of Wonder, Arclight Games, Asterion Press, CrowD Games, Galápagos Jogos, Gém Klub Kft., Korea Boardgames Co., Ltd., Lord of Boards, Maldito Games, Rebel Sp. z o.o.
Year Published2014
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4+ players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4 players
(789 voters)
Playing Time80
Mfg Suggested Ages13 and up
User Suggested Ages12 and up
(117 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(86 voters)
CategoryArabian, Fantasy, Mythology
MechanicAuction/Bidding, Constrained Bidding, End Game Bonuses, Hidden Victory Points, Mancala, Modular Board, Set Collection, Square Grid, Take That, Turn Order: Auction, Variable Player Powers, Variable Set-up, Victory Points as a Resource
ExpansionFive Tribes: Dhenim, Five Tribes: Galbells, Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala, Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala, Five Tribes: Whims of the Sultan, Five Tribes: Wilwit
FamilyAnimals: Camels, Components: Meeples (Animal) / Animeeples, Game: Five Tribes, Mythology: Arabian, Region: Middle East
Primary NameFive Tribes
Alternate NamesFive Tribes: Die Dschinn von Naqala, Five Tribes: I Geni di Naqala, Five Tribes: Les Djinns de Naqala, Five Tribes: Naquala dzsinnjei, Five Tribes: Os Gênios de Naqala, Five Tribes: The Djinns of Naqala, Pięć Klanów: Dżiny Naqali, П'ять Каст, Пять племён, ファイブ・トライブズ, 五大部落, 다섯 부족

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Five Tribes – sultan of Sheherazade region
Final word
Five Tribes is to be liked for its vast possibilities in each round. Points are pouring in from all sides, but players sometimes succumb to attempt to find the best turn, and thus the entire game is slowing down. Game is not dominated by the opening auction of the order, but by correct choice of route. Players take figures from a tile to hand and gradually deploying in adjacent locations. They are interested in the last tile, where they'll end. The whole thing is pretty original, but at the same time it also means, that the game is really a puzzle for players and does not offer any emphasis on the theme. Game may take longer, because of turn difficulty. Five Tribes is excellent but truly tactical game, and if you like this type of games, you will be satisfied.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
plenty of options for scoring
large variability
originality
intensive thinking
winner is not known until the end
Cons
theme just for decoration
uneven playing time
long turns (analysis paralysis)
4.5
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