I just decided that all the games from my top 50 that haven’t got a full or quick review need one too. So, today I start with a quick review of Tigris & Euphrates from Reiner Knizia, designed in 1997 and recently re-published by Fantasy Flight Games.
Tigris and Euphrates is an abstract games where players build up and destroy civilizations. Every player has four leaders in four colours (red, blue, green and black) and players can get 4 types of resources in the same colours. In your turn you can do two actions, you can place a leader next to a temple, a red tile, place a tile in one of the four colours on the board, place a catastrophe tile or discard tiles and draw new ones. When you place a tile in a kingdom where you have a leader in the same colour, you get one resource of that type. If you add a tile in a colour of a leader that is not yours, the player who owns that leader gains that resource. If there’s no leader of the tile’s colour, nobody gets a resource, except if there’s a black leader, he’s special, then the player who owns it gets the resource in the colour of the tile.
When you place a tile on the board and after that there are four tiles of that colour in a square on the board, you may replace it with a monument of two colours of your chosing, although one of the colours must be the same as the colour of the four tiles. A monument gives resources of its colour to the player who has a leader in that colour at the end of a turn.
When a kingdom, connected tiles and leaders, gets connected to a temple with a treasure, a neutral resource, on it, you check who has the green leader in the kingdom and that player gets the treasure.
If a player places his blue leader in a kingdom where there already is a blue leader of another player, an internal conflict, or revolt, occurs. You check which leader is next to the most temples, and then the attacking player, the player who added his leader last, may play extra temple tiles from behind his player screen. The defending player may do that too and then the player who is next to the most temples, plus the added temple tiles, is the winner of the conflict. All played tiles go out of the game and ties are won by the defending player. The winner gains a red resource and the loser removes his leader from the board.
When two kingdoms connect, because a player placed a tile, a war or external conflict occurs. The player who connected them checks which colours have more than one leader in the new kingdom and decides which colour deals with their conflict first. You check how many tiles of that colour are located on both sides of the kingdom and, starting with the attacker, players may play extra tiles in that colour from behind their screens. The loser removes his leader plus all the tiles in their colour on his side of the kingdom. The winner gains an amount of resources in the corresponding colour equal to the leader plus the removed tiles. Then you check if the kingdoms are still connected. If so, go on to the next war until there is only one leader of every colour in the kingdom.
The game ends when there are no more tiles in the bag or there are only one or two treasures on the board. Every player adds up their resources per colour, the treasures are wildcards, and the player with the highest lowest score for a colour wins the game.
Let me start with saying that the overview above is a very basic one, there are several small rules that I haven’t discussed, but it covers the game enough to get a good idea, I think. I also have to say that I haven’t played the new FFG edition, so I can’t tell you which version is better. I only played the wooden version and I’m perfectly fine with the components of that one.
The game itself is so much fun. Firstly you have to strategically place your leaders. You want them surrounded by temples, so they call upon them in an internal conflict and you want to add enough tiles with the same colour of your leader so that he or she has enough power to be victorious in a war.
War is one way of scoring resources, and therefore points, another way is to steadily add tiles to kingdoms where you have a leader. However, because the kingdoms on the board get bigger and bigger, war is inevitable. At some point you have to connect kingdoms.
Being the player who connected the kingdoms has an advantage and a disadvantage. The disadvantage is that you are the attacker and consequently must play extra tiles first. This means that the defender only has to play tiles to equal your amount, because she wins ties. So, you might spend an unnecessarily large amount of tiles to win a fight and she doesn’t have to if she wants to win. She can just wait and watch what you are up to.
The advantage is that you are the one that decides which battle goes before the other. This gives you the option to create bigger kingdoms without having to fight yourself by separating parts of the kingdom, maybe with a rival leader in it, from the bigger part before your battle has to be fought.
I also really like the scoring mechanism. It means that you have to focus on all four areas. You cannot focus on red alone for instance. You can have all the red cubes in the world, if you have one green as your least high score, you will still lose, probably. This mechanism makes the game very tense.
The game also stimulates attacking. You can get al lot of points that way, plus, because they give points for just being there, kingdoms with monuments are very desirable.
All in all, this game is great. A masterpiece. There’s a constant ebb and flow of growing kingdoms and kingdoms in decline. If you like conflict this might be a good one for you, if not, then Tigris & Euphrates is a game you should not buy. I like it. A lot.