He was a great traveler whose every step was an adventure. And his expedition to the Far East was only the first part of a much greater adventure. On the way from Beijing, he will visit other cities again, sign new contracts and, above all, trade.
And the players in his skin will also take care of silk, pepper, camels and jade to address everyone he returns to Europe for. All this in the sequel to the very popular strategy game Marco Polo, which has a Roman duo written for the name Marco Polo II. The novelty was created by the design duo Daniele Tascini and Simone Luciani, and after their play appeared with the Hans im Glück logo in 2019, it has now been reborn in Czech thanks to the Albi company.
The box is the same size, and on the lid we see the main character himself studying the fabric again, perhaps with an embroidered map. But we can only imagine that. Instead, under the lid, players find a game board, which they place in the center of the table and randomly place six city tiles on it. Some cities will equip a rounded section with a trading post, others with three cards and others with two plates of contracts. Thanks to this, each city has a special combination of options that it can provide its visitor. At the bottom of the board, players place three stacks of menu tiles and dice. Under him again guild seals. But he must not forget the shuffled goal cards, piles of coins and goods.
But then there is still the preparation of the participants themselves, who will try to become another Marc Polo. Everyone chooses a color and it determines which board they can take. Its upper part will be filled with eleven trading posts, while it will place its starting contract (random) on the lower area, but also the starting herd of three camels. In addition to the plan, he prepares five dice of his suit, chooses one of the three target cards dealt. The pair of pieces of the selected color then represents the players on the game board, one in Beijing and the other on the starting field of the point indicator. Finally, everyone chooses one from the menu of characters.
In the game, players take turns and use their dice. He always throws them in front of the wheel and places them in the upper right corner of his board. The value of a cube determines its capabilities, with participants having a choice of different areas. With their help, the player can obtain coins, goods or other camels.
All this will be useful to players when they decide to travel on the map. Not only does he need a means of transport in the form of camels, but he must also pay coins or nephrites. In addition, if his figure arrives in a city where he does not yet have his trade station figure, he must place it here. This allows him to access the city card as a new position for placing dice or receives an equal reward. He will also get the opportunity to sign one of the contracts available in the city. By placing exact values, it is then also possible to obtain seals that can be converted into a one-time advantage or improved.
In addition to large actions, you can also perform free activities at any time during the turn, such as fulfilling the contract, adjusting the values on the dice (after paying the price) or using the action position of the bag (access to a modest income, the type is chosen by the active player).
The player lays the dice as long as he wants. He then passes the action relay to his neighbor. When everyone takes turns in laying the dice, they can take the dice back, renew some offers (offers, city cards) and, above all, switch their dice to new values.
The game then ends after five rounds, after which the players share the points for their achievements. These include completed contracts, trading stations, guild seals, goods and coins. The total will then determine the best trader who returned from the Far East with the most valuable assets.
Marco Polo II continues in the footsteps of the successful first part and retains most of the things we are used to. The main one is, of course, the dice and their use to choose actions. Here we have a beautiful mix of chance and its minimization through additional actions. Players have limited options in each turn, but they can face certain victims.
There are quite a few changes to the action fields compared to the original game, but they are all more or less cosmetic. Of course, they affect the experience, but they won’t surprise you in terms of changes or mechanisms. Everything is clearly described with the help of icons and clearly marked in the rules, so that players have a clear idea of where they differ from the first part. For example, Khan’s favor now gives money, which makes it easier for players to travel. We like the change in taking contracts, which is enough to be in the city with their offer.
In general, however, it is a matter of optimizing the original mechanisms, which are now even more straightforward, better connected to each other, and above all, all revolve much more around the movement on the map. Players suddenly feel better in control, which is also related to small changes in the use of dice. Of course, these are still the central element, but the fields do not require their combinations, which makes it easier to throw a high value.
And because moving around the map is again the central motive, and even more important than before until players will be very eager to gain and improve seals. These work as constant improvements. Above all, they provide access to cheaper routes on the map and are therefore in great demand. But not only that, he can do other things and they become one of the most important player companions.
The novelty is jade. Not only does it work like a joker, so if you are short of coins or camels, you can pay with it. However, you will try to keep these stones close to your body, mainly because some places cannot be reached if the player does not have it with him and is willing to pay with it.
As you can see, the game is still quite similar. However, it is necessary to add that in addition to all these novelties, you will also get a new map, which guarantees that the game is actually like new to everyone again. The mechanisms are often repeated even in completely different games, so to see the improvement of the basic formula in several directions is as if you were holding another game in your hand.
The new Marco Polo II remains very tactical and a little less dependent on luck. But players will enjoy it for quite a long time, because one game can very easily live up to two hours. However, because the game is designed to be more advanced due to more complex rules and interconnection of mechanisms, it is not immediately necessary to perceive it negatively. The game works solidly in all numbers of opponents, but still there is surprisingly less interaction between players.
The processing is honest. The game looks really spectacular on the table again, although it is a classic cardboard euro. The illustration and quality of the components do not fall short of expectations and the rules are clearly arranged.
Marco Polo II is an inconspicuous improvement on a working recipe that adds a few minor innovations, such as the ability to win contracts in other ways. Overall, the game is qualitatively completely comparable to the original box, and if you own the original, it is certainly not bad to consider buying a two. Although it is the same, it is still quite different and still very similar. So if you enjoy number one, then you will easily like Marco Polo II.
Review: Marco Polo II – the way back to victory
The new Marco Polo II travels more on the map, but in addition, the game is still about collecting resources and trying to fulfill contracts. It is all beautifully connected, especially with the roll of a set of dice at the beginning of each round. Players must be able to work well with them, but fortunately the more accessible fields will help them with that. The game is a bit easier, there is generally more space and space, but it also results in a loss of interaction between opponents. Nevertheless, Marco Polo II can boldly compare himself to his older brother, offering the same with a new map, small news and still excellent gameplay.