Istanbul was yet another game we happened to discover just by browsing the board game section. I had not heard of it, so I quickly went on YouTube and looked up gameplay videos. It seemed a little complex at first, but I really liked the look of all of the components, so I decided to give it a shot.
There’s something about having the game setup up and ready to play that I really enjoy. All of the rubies, wooden pieces, and randomized game tiles and cards look really nice. Explaining the rules to my wife didn’t take too long, but it wasn’t as quick as explaining a lighter game such as Jaipur.
The objective is to collect X number of rubies (the number varies depending how many players there are). There are a number of ways that you can go about collecting the rubies, whether it be by trading, completing actions, or just outright buying them. You can only move up to 2 spaces at a time and to utilize a card, you must have a worker token to leave behind. One part that I find very interesting is that my wife and I will use completely different strategies than each other and the other person will only win by a single ruby.
This leads me to believe that the creator must have spent a lot of time making sure the game is always balanced, regardless of strategy and layout. There are 4 different layouts that you can choose, which are determined by the numbers in the top-left corner of the cards. You can choose to layout the cards by the green numbers, blue numbers, red numbers, or completely randomly.
Even when using the random layout, we always end up within a 1 ruby victory. The only drawback I have with the game is that it takes a bit of setup, which is primarily the reason we only play it once a week. If it were a little bit faster to setup everything, it’d probably turn into an al-the-time game.