Camels in the Desert and King of the Island

Pink and purple wooden camels sitting on a board with a picture of spice underneath.

Jobby and Sarah play another couple of their challenge games, Samarkand: Routes to Riches and Isle of Skye: From Chieftan to King. Here’s a play report…

You Can’t Choose Your Family

Except in tonight’s game, Samarkand: Routes to Riches, where you can. Several times. In this game players marry into families and expand those families’ trade routes to goods on the board. If they can get those families’ trade routes to cross with other families’ routes then that also helps with points.

Points in this game are earned at the end for camels being on goods on the board. If you hold the card that matches the goods then you get the points. You get more points if the camel(s) belong to a family that you are married into. This means that you will spend the game marrying certain families and adding camels (they never move) in the direction you want them to go. This is fine until your opponent marries into the same family and wants the camels to go somewhere else!

Pink and purple wooden camels sitting on a board with a picture of spice underneath.
The Persian and Sindh families meet over some cumin.

This game really is a bit of a new one to me and Sarah: we’ve owned it for years but only played it a couple of times. Because of this, we were very much feeling our way and trying to learn the most competitive way to play.

Lots of coloured wooden camels on the Samarkand board. A row of family tiles visible along the edge of the board.
Board overview partway through the game.

The game started with each of us marrying into families on opposite sides of the board. This meant that the early game really didn’t have a lot of interaction. Sarah was operating predominantly in the East whilst I muddled around in the West.

A stack of coins in the foreground with the game of Samarkand being played in the background.
The Persian wealth stacked on the family’s area.

As the game moved on things began to draw closer together. Our families started to meet in the middle and we began marrying into each other’s families. Once this began to happen, decisions became more tactical. Having a turn meant questioning whether to improve our own situation or deny the opponent a chance to do something. Things got more tense towards the end.

Final score: 65 to me and 71 to Sarah. Game to Sarah.

Ruling A Bit of Scotland

Next up was Isle of Skye: From Chieftan to King. In this game players lay tiles to expand their territory and score points for a range of different things from completed mountain areas to how many sheep a player has. What mixes things up is that players draw a few tiles each round. One they’ll throw away and the other two they’ll offer for sale. What’s left is what they get to lay down along with the one they’ve bought.

In our game, the main scoring criteria (which change each game) were: points for completed mountain ranges, points were three tiles in a row vertically, points for completed areas and points for most money. Historically, I’m terrible at the most money so I was concentrating on the other three.

I did pretty well fulfilling the completed areas (and mountains) criteria. I used this to couple up with another scoring rule in Isle of Skye. It’s possible to get scrolls that score points for features in your domain. I had nabbed the scroll that scored for each broch. Completing the area the scroll is in doubles the points got for it. Since I was going for completed areas anyway this tied up well.

Sarah was concentrating on collecting whisky barrels to maximise her income and (predictably) kept winning points for the most money. She was also got points from a scroll for how many cows she had.

It was pretty close throughout the game but the final scores were 64 points to me and 57 points to Sarah. Game to me.

Results So Far

This brought us to no matches won so far and two games each to me and Sarah

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