Review: Five Tribes

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Crossing into the Land of 1001 Nights, your caravan arrives at the fabled Sultanate of Naqala. The old sultan just died and control of Naqala is up for grabs! The oracles foretold of strangers who would maneuver the Five Tribes to gain influence over the legendary city-state. Will you fulfill the prophecy? Invoke the old Djinns, move the Tribes into position at the right time and the Sultanate may become yours!
Five Tribes

Five Tribes is a good game, it’s a fun to play, and looks great. Just like all Days of Wonder games it is well produced and works great as a game for the whole family.

What’s Five Tribes like?

The game is played over several rounds where you take turn picking up all the meeples (the little person shaped pieces) and put them down one at a time moving vertically or horizontally (in a Kalaha / Mancala kind of way). There are five different colours representing the five different tribes of the game. The colour of the last meeple you place gives you different actions, from acquiring goods with Merchants, assassinating other meeples with the Assassins, or recruiting Viziers and Elders to score you points at the end of the game. If you empty the title you land on you also get to place a cute little camel. Add to this the fact that you can gain powerful Djinns that can give you special abilities, and a great a bidding system for turn order.

The game ends when you place your last camel or no moves remain. This means you can never be sure ahead of time exactly when the game ends and since the value of the gold coins you have (that are worth points and the end of the game) are kept secret you’ll never be completely certain who will win and become the ruler of Naqala.

The whole 1001 Nights theme, does feel a bit pasted on, what you do in the game is mostly abstracted and doesn’t always make thematic sense, however the game is a joy to look at with colors that pop. It’s hard not to feel a bit mesmerized by it and it does make the theme feel more present. But despite this it’s a joy to play and it’s no wonder it has become so popular.

But don’t play it with people who want to analyse every option (because there will be a lot of them).

It also works well as a 2 player game (over a cup of coffee with your friend or partner).

Five Tribes might look very complicated at first, but actually it isn’t. Sure the rules are a bit long, and you have to do some math (when using the Builders), but once one person knows the rules they are really easy to teach.

Rating

Overall: 
4 / 6

Fun:

4 / 6

Theme:

2 / 6

Visuals:

5 / 6

Rules:

3 / 6

Facts

  • Players: 2 – 4
  • Playing time: 60 minutes
  • Suggested age: 12+

Would You Like To Know More?

If you want to see a quick run-through of the rules I highly recommend Watch It Played – How To Play Instructions:

Also Wil Wheaton’s excellent show TableTop has done a play through of the game. It’s definitely worth watching if you have the time.

Follow Peter H. Møller:

Tabletop Together and dachshund owner, sci-fi geek, trekkie and whovian. Lover of medium length, thematic, silly (in the good way), worker placement style games. A sucker for beautiful art. Generally just a big lovable teddy bear.

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