"Targi" means the men of the Tuareg tribes, who live in the western Saharan desert. Targi is a game in the Kosmos two-player-only series, published in 2012. It has been getting consistent praise, and I was curious to give it a try. Allen has a copy. For the past few months he was often unable to join the Friday gaming sessions, so recently I suggested we meet up on a Thursday after work to play some short games. Our work locations are close. Playing in a public location means less space, so we decided to do card games with no boards.
The "board" area in Targi is a 5x5 grid of cards. The 16 border cards are fixed from game to game, but the 9 cards in the central area are set up randomly at the start of every game. During a game round, players take turns placing targi pieces (each player has three) on border cards. A targi may not occupy the same card as another targi, and also may not be placed such that it would be facing another targi across the play area. That means when you place a targi, it is monopolising that particular row or column. Once all targis are placed, if their rows and columns intersect, you get to place tribe markers at the intersections. Normally there are two intersections per player. After that the players execute actions on the cards where they have targis and tribes. Some cards let you gain resources. Some cards let you score points. The most important type if card is the tribe cards. If you have a tribe marker on a tribe card, you may pay specific resources to claim it and then add it to your tribe area. Your tribe area is a 3x4 grid in front of you, i.e. 3 rows each having 4 slots for tribe cards. Tribe cards grant special abilities. They are also worth victory points at game end. Each tribe card has a tribe icon. For each tribe card row where you have four of the same icons or four different icons, you score bonus points.
The game ends after 12 rounds, or after a player claims 12 tribe cards.
The blue and white pieces belong to the players. The light grey piece (bottom centre) is the robber. The robber moves every round, along the edge of the play area. He blocks targi placement, and when he reaches a corner card, he raids - players must surrender goods or money, or else lose victory points.
Whenever a card in the central area is executed, it is either claimed by a player or removed from the play area. A new card is drawn to replace it. The new card is kept face-down until the end of the current round. You can see one such new card in this photo.
This is a tribe card. The tribe icon is on the left. The cost is at the top right. The VP value is at the bottom right. The text describes the special ability you gain.
This is a VP-scoring game, and what you try to do every round is to maximise the effectiveness of your five possible actions. When placing targis you are directly choosing the action you want to perform. As more and more targis are placed, your options dwindle. So you need to prioritise which actions are most important to you, and grab them before you are blocked by your opponent. You need to consider what your opponent may want, so that you can try to block him too. Where your tribe markers will go depends on how you place your targis, and that's something you already need to consider when placing your targis. This is what makes Targi unique.
Most of your points will come from the tribe cards. You are constantly competing with your opponent to grab these. There is a set collection element, and a tableau building element. You want to get tribe cards which synergise. At the same time you want to prevent your opponent from doing the same.
My tableau of tribe cards at game end. I managed to put together two rows with the same tribe icons. That's a juicy 8VP.
Targi is a light-to-medium weight game. More complex than the Lost Cities type, but not quite a medium weight game. It will work well as a spouse game and as a post-dinner game. It takes 30-45 minutes to play. It'll work as a after-the-kids-go-to-bed game too when I'm-too-tired-for-a-complex-game-and-I-just-want-to-unwind-a-bit. There is no direct conflict, but there is plenty of player interaction. You are competing to score the most points, trying to grab the most valuable actions and cards before your opponent. However you can't directly hurt your opponent. The targi placement mechanism which drives tribe marker placement is what's unique about the game. The set collection aspect will be familiar to Eurogamers, but it works fine. Collecting tribe cards is a tableau-building game.
The ever-shifting central area keeps players on their toes. You never know what opportunities will come up in the next round. In the game we played we exhausted the goods cards, and I think that's normal. You will cycle through the whole deck. However only about half the tribe cards came into play. So there will be variety from game to game.