25 years already since Tigris & Euphrates was released, and the game has not aged a bit- which is absolutely remarkable when you see the explosion of games we have had during all these years.
Players build civilizations by placing tiles. Players have four different leaders: agriculture, trade, religion and government. Leaders are used to collect victory points in these same categories. However, your score at the end of the game is the number of points in your lowest category, which encourages players to not be too specialized. External conflicts occur when civilizations connect on the board, and only one leader of each type survives such a conflict. Leaders can also be replaced within a civilization by internal conflicts.
Tigris & Euphrates is therefore a game of territory development (kingdoms) and war.
The flow of the game is very simple: on their turn, a player may take 2 of the 4 available actions (the same action can be performed twice):
1. Place a tile (there are 4 different colors)
2. Place or move a leader (one leader per color)
3. Place a catastrophe (2 times maximum per game)
4. Exchange tiles (you always have 6 in your hand at the beginning of your turn and can do this if you are not satisfied with your tiles. Rarely used because it uses an action, which is quite risky since you have no guarantee that the new tiles will be better.)
Each time a tile of a given color is placed on a realm where a leader of that color is present, the player who holds the leader in question scores 1 point of the color (so logically and most of the time we will place the tiles where we have leaders).
So far so good. But as you cleverly guessed, all players play all colors. In other words, everyone has a leader of each of the 4 colors. And what happens when 2 leaders of the same color end up on the same kingdom? Well, they hit each other.
And here comes one of the specificities of the game which has not aged a bit: there are 2 different types of conflicts, which give completely different results. Depending on whether you enter a conflict because you "parachute" a leader of color x onto a kingdom where there is already another leader of the same color, or whether you enter a conflict because two different kingdoms (but ruled by a leader of the same color) come into contact following the placement of a tile, the way you settle the conflict (and the victory points you get from it) will be quite different.
It is enough to make you think twice!
In addition, you can build a monument (if you form a square with 4 tiles of the same color), which will give extra points at the end of the round for the leaders with the colors of the monument (bicolor). Plus the fact that you can use the 2 catastrophe tiles to break an existing tile (and mess up someone else's kingdom for example). And that you can get treasures during the game, i.e. victory cubes placed at the beginning of the game, which are jokers (=the color of your choice) at the time of the final count. And, last but not least, the winner will not be the one who has accumulated the most victory cubes, but the one who has the most cubes in the least good color (as a reminder, there are 4 colors), which will forbid de facto strategies like: "ok I develop everything in green, I am the king of green, I beat everyone and I explode everything". Instead, it will force a balanced and varied strategy.
But there is more to it than that. The game really makes you feel the rise and fall of kingdoms and rulers. The way kingdoms expand and are then devastated, the way rulers can succeed and then fall to their rival dynasties, it all has an epic feel. The game feels abstract, but that is partly because it makes little effort to hide its mechanics. It does not try to connect everything to a thematic point. It is only when you examine why things are done the way they are that you see those little touches that make the game richer.
Tigris & Euphrates departs from a ton of established dogma in European games. There are no victory points as such. It is not really an efficiency game, since a hot start will often be rendered null and void by the end. The board can be very dynamic and change in a single move. And the tile draw is relentlessly inconsistent, depriving players of the colors they need at the worst possible time. It is strange that these qualities have not been much emulated in the years since its release.
Again, this is not an easy game to solve. It doesn't reveal its mysteries quickly, and that pays off with the game experience.
You can try the game now by clicking on the link below (we offer a few variations, and both normal and advanced boards), from 2 to 4 players:
https://boardgamearena.com/gamepanel?ga ... seuphrates
We would like to thank Dr. Reiner Knizia and his team for their kind permission to port the game to Board Game Arena and Z-Man Games for letting us use their art.
All the adaptation work was developed by thenmal, and if the whole thing is rather sober, it should highlight the mechanical qualities of the game whatever device you use. Thanks to him for this great adaptation!
That's it for today, the summer calendar continues to deliver its daily releases,
don't forget to click on each square, each day, between two dives in the water (we know it's not summer everywhere, but it's hard to realise when you have your feet in the water)!
Take care and play well!