Tuesday, 15 April 2014


Plays: 4Px1.

The Game

Many people will probably think of the queuing mechanism in Kashgar as a twist to the deck-building mechanism, but the designer actually came up with the mechanism before the first deck-building game, Dominion was published. Here's how it works.

Every player starts with three queues of workers. On your turn, you pick one of the workers (i.e. cards) at the head of a queue, and execute his ability. Once done, he goes to the back of the queue and starts queuing up all over again. That means you will need to activate all the other workers in that queue before you will cycle back to him. You start the game with two workers per queue, one of whom is a Patriarch who can recruit new workers. When you recruit, you draw two cards from the worker deck and pick one. Sometimes you can select one worker from the discard pile. Worker abilities vary greatly, but most do one of two things - collect resources, or fulfill contracts by spending resources. Fulfilling contracts is the main way to score points (some workers are worth point values too). There are always four contracts revealed at the centre of the table. Whoever fulfills a contract claims the contract card and then replenish the contract pool.

Game end is triggered once anyone reaches 25VP. The round is played to completion.

So far I only know of the German version. I don't know whether there will be an English one.

The player board on the left is for tracking your resources. The three queues are on the right. Claimed contracts are at the bottom. This copy of the game (Kareem's I think) has English paste-ups, without which it would be very hard to play because it's text-heavy (well, unless you know German). Blue circles with yellow numbers are victory point values. All contracts have them, some workers have them.

The Play

Right off the bat I started aggressively fulfilling contracts. Every player starts the game with some resources, and since some of the initial contracts in our game were small ones, it was already possible to fulfill them in the early game. Naturally that was also dependent on being able to recruit a worker who could fulfill contracts. It turned out to be not a bad idea. I took an early lead, and continued to maintain it throughout most of the game. This doesn't seem to be a game where you have to focus on building your engine first, and then at some point switch mode to scoring points. It is possible to do both at the same time. I didn't plan to specialise my three queues in any particular way. Broadly speaking, two of them were helping me to gain resources, and the third was the only one with some workers who could fulfill contracts. Playing the game was a matter of watching the available contracts, collecting the required resources (hopefully more quickly than others) and then timing the workers to fulfill the contracts. Ivan and Dith had workers who could fire other workers, and they both culled one of their queues down to just one worker. That means whenever they activated that queue, it would always be the same worker reporting to work (poor guy!). That's not a bad idea actually. For example, always having a worker ready to fulfill a contract is handy.

As everyone's worker abilities grew, it became more and more competitive, and racing to be first to fulfill a contract became more intense. Dith claimed one contract just before I could do so. It would have helped me cross the 25VP line. I had to settle with claiming another one which only got me to 24VP. Soon after that Ivan managed to reach 25VP to trigger the game end. I had a Matriarch card at the front of one of my queues, which allowed me to recruit a worker from the face-up discard pile. I picked one worth 1VP, pushing my score to 25VP. Tiebreaker was reverse turn order, so I narrowly won the game.

I didn't have any worker who could fire another worker, so my worker pool grew to be quite big. Aahh... unions.

The Thoughts

The queuing mechanism in Kashgar is interesting. There are various ways to build your queues and to make use of combinations of worker abilities. The resource collecting and contract claiming parts are pedestrian. They are just there to give a goal to the core mechanism. This reminds me a little of The Speicherstadt, which I didn't like, and felt it was a hollow game built around one clever mechanism. But in Kashgar at least there is some meat in the various worker abilities to chew on.


Damien (BGG ID: dtroy_de_rapcore) said...

IT's quite a nice game. I felt the queuing mechanic feels fresh than the typical deck-building games out there.

Kareem did a great job with the paste-ups. If only this game was available in Eng, oh KOSMOS, please do something.

Lord of Midnight said...

Paste-up? What paste-up? You are suppose to learn Erhuhe and Setz before playing the game... haha