I’ve played Traders of Carthage enough, that I’m somewhat surprised this is the first time it has come up for an Every 100 Games review. It was my 2,900th game played and so I’m glad I get to review it, because to give the secret away a bit early, this is an excellent game.
I first discovered Traders when my friend Jeff showed it to me at GenCon 2008. We were in the dealer hall on Thursday morning and he wanted to get right over to Z-Man’s booth to pick up some games, one of the games being Traders of Carthage. We then wandered around a bit and then later on during the convention he taught it to me and I was hooked. I immediately went and got a copy for $20 from Z-Man.
|Game Board. Photo by Zev Schlasinger|
Traders has very nice components. The cards are beautiful looking, with deep rich colors, but they are also very practical and useful when playing the game. There are 4 ships that are similar to the ships you find in Seafarers of Catan. The small, bi-fold board, does it’s job for tracking how far the ships have moved and again the art on the board is excellent. Though the theme in the game play itself doesn’t come through, the theme from the components really does. One of the nicest looking games on the market.
The Game Play
The rules are available online, so I won’t go into extreme detail, but I do want to give some explanation. On your turn you have 3 options. You can pick up a card from the market and put it into your hand, which makes it money. You can save a card with your save chip, either in the market or the farm (3 cards that will eventually be coming down to the market). By doing this you are saving that card for purchase later or to be picked up by you later. Finally, you can purchase the market. You have to purchase every card in the market, with money from your hand, except for any cards saved by your opponents. These purchased cards don’t go to your hand, but rather go into play in front of you as goods. The ships then move, according to the number of goods of each color you bought, and then if any of the ships make it to Carthage, those color goods are sold. The ships that are on the pirate spots, get their goods stolen, unless they can be saved by cards in hand.
|Game in Play. Photo by Antony Hemme.|
Selling of the goods can be the confusing part for people. Basically, you multiply your highest good times the number of those goods you have. Then you get to turn some of those cards over and put them in your score pile. If the total is 1-5, you get 1 point. If the total is 6-10, you get 2 points. 11-15 gets you 3 points. You get the idea, but for new players, especially when first explaining the game, this is eye-glazing math that can turn them off.
As I’ve played Traders of Carthage dozens of times now, it’s really turned into a two –player game for me. Though you can play with 3 or 4 players, adding those extra players really loses you control of the Market and the Farm, making the game have more chaos. With two players though, you can many times force your opponent to do something that will benefit you and allow you to either ship a bunch of goods or perhaps get your opponents goods hit by the pirates. It only takes 20-30 minutes to play, sets up really quick, and like I’ve said looks very good.
I like Traders of Carthage so much, that it made me look up the designer Susumu Kawasaki, and find other games by him. There are very few games that would beat out Traders of Carthage for me, when it comes to two players, so if you are looking for a good game that isn’t extremely expensive, that you can play with your spouse while sitting in a Starbucks (I know, that is pretty specific, but hey that’s what we’ve done with this game), then get Traders of Carthage. You won’t go wrong.