Full disclosure: A review copy of Targi was provided by KOSMOS.
Alright, onto the next one. We’ve been talking a fair bit about KOSMOS, recently, which is a bit funny given that I haven’t reviewed any EXIT games in a while (but one is coming!). I know they make other games; I’ve just reviewed a lot of the EXIT games, is all. We talked extensively about Imhotep and its expansion over the last couple weeks, so, let’s try something new. And by new I mean a bit older than Imhotep, but recently reprinted; the two-player classic, Targi!
Targi pits players against each other as members of the Tuareg tribes, trying to trade goods to benefit their families and increase the scope of their wealth. Will you be able to make a name for your tribe?
First thing is to set out the border cards:
They’re numbered 1 – 16, handily, and they have images on one side and text descriptions on the other. Super handy! Make a square out of them, keeping the edges lined up properly.
Shuffle the Goods Cards:
Place them next to the Caravan space. Shuffle the Tribal Cards:
Place them next to the Tribal Expansion Space. Place the gray Robber next to the space marked “1”:
The other figures are the Targis; give each player a set of two in the same color, along with their Tribal Markers (the wooden cylinders). Very tribal. Anyways, flip Goods and Tribal cards so that they alternate, using 5 Goods and 4 Tribal cards to fill the middle 9 spaces. Additionally, get out the resources:
Give each player 2 Dates, 2 Salt, 2 Pepper, 1 Coin, and 4 Victory Points (a 3 and a 1 is usually good):
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start!
Over the course of the game, you’ll be working on buying Tribal Cards to try and build up your tableau. Some cards will give you abilities; others will give you points. Either way, every round, the Robber advances (the first round it will advance onto the “1” card). If it advances onto a Raid space, follow the instructions. Once that’s done, take turns placing your Targi tokens on non-Raid spaces on the outer edge of the board. A few rules:
- Your opponent cannot place across from your Targi. The reason why will make sense shortly.
- You should not place across from your own Targi. Again, give me a second to explain.
Nothing happens until all three are placed. Once you’ve placed your third Targi, use your Tribal Markers to note the intersections of lines created by connecting your Targi via rows and columns. Essentially, each of your Targi creates a horizontal or vertical line; place the Tribal Markers at the intersection. If you place two of your Targi on the same line, you’ll only create one intersection point.
Now, in player order (not that it matters, terribly), take those actions. You can take any action in any order. The Targi actions generally give you abilities or let you draw cards or trade goods; the Tribal Marker actions let you get resources or take Tribal Cards. When you take a Tribal Card, you may add it to your hand if you don’t already have a card in your hand (you must use the Noble action to discard the card in your hand if you already have one, which is rough), or you can spend the resources on the card to play it to your Display.
Your Display is a 3 row, 4 column area for Tribal Cards that’s built from left to right. You do not have to complete a row before starting another, but making sure that your cards have the same symbol or all different symbols may help you in the long-term.
At the end of your turn, if you have more than 10 Goods and / or more than 3 Gold, you must return any excess to the supply. Naturally, don’t do that. You can have more than the limit on your turn, but you need to be below the limit by the time your actions have completed.
Once both players have resolved their turns, change who the starting player is and go again! Play continues until one of two things happens:
- The end of the round where the Robber hits card 16.
- One player completes their 3×4 display.
When either happens, complete the round, and then score! You get the sum of your Victory Points, the pictured points on your display cards, and potential bonuses! For each row in your display, if it’s completed:
- If every card has the same symbol: +4 points
- If every card has a different symbol: +2 points
- Otherwise, no bonus.
The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
None! Two players only, though I hear solo and 3 – 4p variants exist on the web. Do whatcha want.
- You might be able to get one row with all the same symbol. I wouldn’t try for two; it will lock you up and make it hard for you to complete all three rows. Plus, if your opponent notices (and they should, to be fair), they might start pulling those cards to block you and now you’re doubly messed up. Better safe than extremely sorry.
- In the same vein, keep an eye on your opponent’s display. Do they get certain cards cheaper? They’re your cards, now. Are they going after all the cards of one type? Now you’ve got them. Just do some things to like, lightly annoy them and try to keep them away from major combos or bonuses.
- If you got nothing else useful to do, Caravan. Caravan is great. It’s a decently cheap, easy way to get a free Goods card, which may be better than your other options (sometimes the Goods cards are more Bads cards, you know?). Sometimes it’ll even give you double resources or Victory Points, both of which are long-term useful.
- Fata Morgana isn’t too bad, either. You’re gonna get blocked a bunch in this game, so staking your claim to the card that lets you move anywhere is typically pretty useful. Just make sure you taking this doesn’t allow your opponent to double-down and take the actual card you want.
- Too many of a resource, for some reason? Silversmith or Trader. You can get a lot of points via Silversmith if you’re patient, especially if you would otherwise have gotten too many resources. Just make sure you get all of that done in one turn, otherwise you’re going to be in a bad way (you’ll have to return those resources to the supply).
- Coins are hard to come by. Try to always have one. There are many cards that cost only one coin, and a lot of cards that cost at least one coin. Plus, a bunch of raids will take your coins, too. Generally speaking you kind of just want to keep a few on you at all times. Just make sure that it’s less than 4, unless you’re going for that Silversmith.
- If you know what your opponent is going for, block ’em. Just place one of your Targis on the space they need to get that middle card, or take the Trader when they seem like they have a bunch of resources but not the one that they need. You’re being kind of cruel, but, all’s fair in love and resource collection, I think is how the saying goes.
- If you can get the cost-reducing Tribal Cards early, you might be in good shape. Those make other Tribal Cards of the same type cheaper, which is handy, especially if you’re going for multiple cards with the same symbol for those sweet bonus points.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The actual mechanics of choosing the cards you activate is super interesting. I don’t often see games that focus on intersections like that, and it feels like a very smart design choice. I’d love to see more games play with the concept (mostly because I want to see if someone could spin up something workable as a roll-and-write).
- The blocking parts of the player interaction are also very neat. You can always prevent a player from getting a card, if you want to, but is it worth blocking them if it ends up preventing you getting the card that you want? It’s less clear, and the tension there makes the gameplay interesting, in my opinion. It’s also not quite as aggressive as other games with blocking mechanics, I feel, because it may be unintentional.
- I appreciate that the cards have pictures on one side and text on the other. I prefer text, so it helps me a lot (and it’s a useful way to learn the game), but if you know what you’re doing the pictures are quick to scan and use a nicely-sized image, which I appreciate.
- Pretty simple rules. You’re just converting resources to cards with some extra actions, which is easy enough to get. Makes it very easy to get started, which is great for two players. The only snag is remembering when you’re allowed to discard the card in your hand (only via a Noble action), so, just make sure you keep that in mind.
- Setup isn’t too bad, either. There are worse things than laying down 25 cards, which is nice.
- Feels a tiny bit long, to me. Just a smidge, though, so it’s not really all that bad. It’s barely.
- Another game that’s a good justification if you’ve been thinking about buying a felt tabletopper. You’re lifting a lot of cards flat off the table for this game, and you’ll inevitably mess them up pretty badly if you’re not good at lifting cards off a table (you see people nick cards with their fingernails a lot, in this sort of business). It may be worth considering playing this on some surface where you can grab cards more easily, since you’ll only ever be removing cards from the center of the box, rather than the border.
- The insert is fine. It doesn’t really do a good job of holding any of the components, which is a bummer, but it does hold the cards pretty well! So that’s nice. I just wish it had a better space carved out for the individual pieces.
- I understand the cost justification and why it’s done, but I really do hate it when games use the same-sized tokens for multiple denominations. There are plenty of games that do it, but it definitely can lead to issues if you grabbed a 5 and thought it was a 3 or, if you have players who cheat, you kind of have to hand the tokens to them. Then again, if you have players who cheat, just, stop playing with those people.
- Players may be frustrated by a player who does really well by relying on the Caravan and it paying off. I tend to do that and it works out pretty well for me, but it’s definitely annoying if both players need a coin and one player happens to randomly draw one, letting them take a super valuable card. Thankfully, it’s not that much luck, so it doesn’t really annoy me. It may frustrate you if you have a low luck tolerance, though.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, I think Targi is a very solid game! It’s got a pretty novel framework to it, but the nice thing about that is that it doesn’t come with a ton of rules overhead to compensate. It’s a simple game without too many complications, which is nice. Only a few types of resources, a few sets of actions, and not a ton of variance in what comes on the cards. The Tribal Cards are the most complicated part, but even those you can read before you use them and you don’t necessarily interact too much with your opponent’s cards (save for the one that forces you to place one fewer Targi in the next round). That’s a good foundation for a game to have, that simplicity. And I respect that a lot about Targi! Like I said, my only real gripes are that it uses the same VP token for each denomination and I wish the insert were better, which is pretty good. Hopefully KOSMOS will localize the expansion, because I’d be excited to play Targi again in the right circumstances. Either way, if you’re looking for an interesting worker placement game with a cool action selection mechanic or you just really like salt, pepper, and / or dates, Targi might be worth checking out! I’ve really enjoyed it.