Base Game: Five Tribes
Additional Playtime: None.
Producer/s: Days of Wonder
Designer/s: Bruno Cathala
Gather around the campfire my friends while I confess to you my sins. Sharpen your scimitars to seek justice upon me if you feel so inclined.
I was looking for an easy article to do this week.
See, I’ve been really busy this last little while, and any spare time I did have, this chesty cough and head cold had me snuggled up on a couch playing Persona 5 and not doing my goofly duty and writing. So I thought “I really want an article out today, and I’d like it to be a full review. So I’ll do the mini-expansion Thieves of Naqala because honestly, how much can seven cards change a game?”
As this article is a Glance and not the aforementioned full review, you don’t need to be a knowledgeable Vizier to see I’d gotten that one horribly wrong.
From the first turn I could see how much this mini-expansion had changed things. I was looking to see where I could pick up the first Thief (one which would let me steal a Djinn from my opponent/s), and a couple turns in I was making plans to use it.
Not only was I now looking at the colour of the meeples I was picking up, and the space ability of the last one I placed, but I was taking into account combinations which would utilise the new cards, or stop my opponent from making optimal plays with their Thief.
Thieves of Naqala adds more depth to the strategies. And helps guide the moves you make to reduce the options of your opponents.
I like the fact the Thieves are immediately available in the game. Yeah there’s a Djinn which gets shuffled into the other deck (which blocks you from being targeted by the Thieves) but majority of the new stuff is able to be played with immediately. And if you have the Artisans of Naqala expansion then there’s a Thief you can add which impacts the artefacts as well.
This expansion feels really well thought out. And I’ve got to admit I’ll want to throw it in pretty much every time (I may not get to as Charlotte doesn’t like it but I’ll get to this in a sec).
Oh Analysis Paralysis, my arch enemy. I see you lurking there in the shadows – an assassin of fun times.
Five Tribes is infamous for the amount of times players freeze up and just don’t see the moves. But add the new mechanic of activating a thief ability and suddenly the game grinds to a halt.
I’d recommend not adding these seven cards to the game unless your group is filled with Five Tribes Elders. You’ve got to have a really good grasp on the basic mechanics of the game before you go adding content which adds additional options or your game is going to last longer than The Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
Also, the Thieves are nothing but mean. While Five Tribes is normally a point salad with very few direct confrontations, TON is made up exclusively of cards designed to hurt all opponents while simultaneously benefiting you. And in the last game we played Charlotte found she really didn’t like this added level of conflict.
Another issue I had with TON is the same issue I have with the base game (did a quick scan of my review of Five Tribes from two years ago – I didn’t actually mention this back then so I’ll need to update the review sometime) is the issue with the Clean Up phase. You only reveal a new Thief if there’s none available for purchase. Two purchases in and I found we get stuck, especially in a two player game when the yellow guy comes up.
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game before where so few new additions has had such a large impact on the game. Can you introduce TON into the game and just ignore them as an option? Depends. If your opponents pick up even one then no, you can’t. Because you need to keep in mind their new aggressive ability.
This expansion isn’t for everyone. In fact the market for it would be a pretty interesting thing to dive into. Because Five Tribes is a game for people who don’t necessarily enjoy direct conflict, whereas this expansion brings in direct conflict…
But hey, those of us who like both exist. So maybe it’s for the strange people like me.
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