Targi - Return of a Classic



Unboxing Targi 
Targi contains the following:
  • 80 Game cards;
  • 6 Targi figures;
  • 1 Robber figure;
  • 4 Tribe markers;
  • 30 Goods tokens;
  • 8 Gold tokens;
  • 15 Victory point tokens;
  • 1 Starting player token; &
  • 1 Rulebook.
Unfortunately for those of you who will be unboxing Targi for the first time, the experience can be a little lacklustre. While it does have that shiny new board game smell (you know the one), cardboard to be punched, and meeples to enjoy, I personally find that the artwork leaves me wanting more. Yes, the theme is that of two nomadic tribes battling for control of the Saharan trade routes but that doesn't mean that the cards have to be plain. I would have loved to see some better artwork, there are plenty of games with similar themes that have managed to create meaningful but spectacular artwork (Century: Spice Road, Istanbul, Five Tribes etc.). That said, those games did come out after, so maybe it is just that Targi lead the way for those games to succeed.  One thing that really shines for me is the use of game cards as the board. I know that some might see this as a way to limit costs, I always think that this is an inventive way of maximizing component use and that it looks cool on the table.


Mechanics

Targi is not what I normally expect from a two-player only game. The majority of the two-player only games that we play are light, fun, filler games but Targi offers players a more meat (but still fun) game and it is appreciated. Targi offers players an elegant two player worker placement/set collection game that allows players to feel the conflict that is typically only found at a higher player count. Targi is played over a series of rounds where players will place their nomades and collect goods and/or tribe cards. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But wait, players must place their nomades around the outside cards, one at a time, meeples cannot be placed on the same card as any other meeple, nor can they be placed on a card in the same row/column as an already placed meeple. This can make the game a bit tricker than you would expect... Especially when the robber (AI) meeple moves around the board, blocking a new space each turn. Once a player has placed all of their nomade meeples, they place their tribe markers where their nomades intersect, claiming all the resources and special abilities from the inner and outer cards. This makes meeple placement critical to winning the game, and very strategic - do you place your meeple for goods/tribe cards, special abilities, or to block your opponent's needs. The game ends when one person has collected a total of 12 tribe cards (3 rows of 4) or the robber meeple makes it back to the starting card. Players gain points based on victory points collected throughout the game via goods cards, individual tribe cards, and the types of tribes cards placed in each of the three rows.



How it Played

Almost every time we have visited a board game cafe we have played Targi. Despite being out of print at the time, it seems like every board game cafe has a copy - likely a sign of how great this game is. Having played it with my sister and loved it but then realizing shortly afterwards that I wouldn't be able to get a copy new, I am always pleasantly surprised when I stumble upon it at in a cafe's library and insistent that we play. While Cody enjoys the game enough, I think his favourite part of the game is watching how excited I am, both finding a copy and playing it. The game is just so good, there is nothing more satisfying than using the Fata Morgana ability to place a tribe marker on a card that you really wanted but your opponent blocked or trading in your goods at the end of the game for victory points to just barely win the game or leaving your opponent in the dust when you play your final tribe card.


Food for Thought

Targi offers players an easily accessible game that at the time it was initially published offered a fresh theme and a new and interesting mechanic. For newer gamers like myself, this game might be an unknown and may not compare to the artwork of a game such as Century: Spice Road or the shiny jewels of a game like Istanbul but newer doesn't always equal better.

Targi holds up to the test of time and despite being more than five years old is still an essential game for any great collection. The game offers a game for two players that is unexpected at first glance, opening up the world of work placement to the smaller player count while eliminating the first player advantage that is so often a part of gaming with two. By having the Robber Meeple (AI) and by placing the tribe marker where two nomad meeples intersect, the designer has created a game that allows for significant strategy and choices. While the game looks like a light filler game, it can really get players thinking.


Final Thoughts 

Targi is a game that I enjoy playing time and time again and am ecstatic to add to our collection now that it is back in print. It provides gamers who enjoy playing two player an experience that other games can sometimes miss the mark on - a meaty two player game. While the aesthetics of the game are not what I would like them to be, I think that mechanically the game more than makes up for its shortcomings. All in all, you don't want to miss out on this reprint of a spectacular game. I know I will be bringing it to the table again shortly.






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Targi - Return of a Classic