Author Topic: The Voyages of Marco Polo - First plays, first impressions (image heavy)  (Read 1631 times)

Offline franks

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 500
  • Merit: 23
  • I love Carcassonne
    • View Profile


Designer: Simone Luciani, Daniele Tascini
Artist: Dennis Lohausen
Publisher: Hans im Glück, Zman, etc.
BGG Rank: Over all 37 – Strategy 29 (as of this publication date)
BGG Weight (Complexity): 3.19 / 5
Play time: 40 – 100 min.
Mechanism: Dice Rolling, Variable Player Powers, Worker Placement, etc.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/171623/voyages-marco-polo

More of a good thing …

One of my all time favourite games is Grand Austria Hotel. I mention this because these two titles share a common co-designer in Simone Luciani. These two games are also credited as 2015 releases but if my memory serves correctly, Marco Polo just predated the two. I’m also sure I had Marco Polo before purchasing GAH but somehow that made it to the table much sooner than Marco Polo.

Despite some comparisons that have been made between these games, they feel different to a large degree. The most obvious comparison is the use of dice. Where in GAH dice are much more of drafting and action selection. The dice use in Marco Polo is more closely related to Worker placement, for the most part you roll dice and assign those dice to a space in a worker placement fashion. I suppose there is another similarity in collecting goods for contracts in MP and collecting goods for orders in Grand Austria. Both games do have intense decisions and working with tight resource management.

I do have a review here of Grand Austria Hotel: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3025.msg44965#msg44965

So what’s Marco Polo all about … (enter usual comment here, that this is not intended as a full, rules included, review. I will only highlight important features to give a summary view of the game and our experience).


The top of the board features the travel map area. You will visit cities and leave trading posts. The spaces also open up many special bonuses. The lower half of the board features the main action spots. The board is a little busy to look at in the beginning but that gets easier as you play.

In this game you are Marco Polo or one of his associates in trade and transportation. There are two primary factors in the game: Traveling between cities and towns along trade routes and filling contract orders.

As mentioned Travel is a major part of the game, you will move along the map to collect bonuses and open up new action spaces.


Travel selection part of the board. Here you place dice, pay money and move your Meeple on the top portion of the board. Each action spot has a required amount of die that need to be placed to take that action. In this case the travel area requires 2 dice. The numbers that you chose determine how many moves you can take and the cost of the move on the chart. Anytime you place multiple dice in this game, you take the action of your lowest die. High rolls are not always needed nor necessary. In this photo, yellow can move two spaces on the map and has to pay 7 coins to do so.

There are also Goal cards in the game that are very similar to routes in Ticket to Ride. They will have routes that you want to complete for points at the end of the game.

The other major factor in the game is contracts. When these contracts are fulfilled there is an immediate reward and the player to get the most contracts at the end of the game will gain a 7 points bonus.

There seems to be a fine balance in the game; do you focus on visiting cities on the map or do you put more attention on gathering goods for those lucrative contracts. Of course the likely best course is a delicate balance of the two within a very tight timeline.


Available contracts or orders are placed at the bottom of the board. In this shot you can see blue took the 6th contract, (with a 6 die he can chose any of the visible contracts and can also chose to take two). The cost is on the left with the reward pictured on the right of the contract cards. He also took a 2 level move action, in the middle of the board and finally was able to place a die and take an action on a bonus card from a city he had visited.


The Bazaar, in the centre of the photo is the main spot where resources can be gathered, (Gold, Silk, Pepper and Camels).
In the photo, I placed my blue die on the Camel resource line and gathered 6 Camels. Another player can use the same spot but pays a penalty of coins equal to the value of the die they place on top of the spot. For example if a player placed a die with a 4, they would pay 4 coins to take the same action, (they would then gather 4 Camels). The Black die above the Bazaar are possible bonus die that can be bought or earned as bonuses. Of course there are many other choices in the game, again, I am just focusing on the main play elements.



Nice wood bits.
Component quality of the game is very good, as is usual for HiG and Zman productions.
I’ve added small square containers that fit nicely in the box and make for quick set up / tear down.



This is your personal player board area, where you keep: Money, Dice, Resources, Trading Posts, Route (Goal) cards, contracts and finished contracts. Your personal dice pool is rolled and will be placed on the board to take your actions.

The variable player powers are a stand out feature of this game and maybe the most talked about element.

Each character that you can play has outstanding special abilities that gives this game a strong asymmetrical feel. It will be fun to explore more of these roles. We used the standard set up for the first game as suggested in the rules. I had Raschid ad-Din Sinan and my wife took the suggested roll of Matteo Polo.

Raschid has, what might seem to be, the game breaking benefit of making his dice faces whatever he wants them to be! How can you lose … well I found a way, or better to say this shows the amazing balance in this game where I ended up just losing by 10 points.

My wife and I were tied going into the final scoring and where I put extra focus on Travel my wife put extra focus on contracts, and she just squeezed out the win. Matteo’s special ability is to get an extra die for the entire game and to pick up a new contract every round, (possibly saving the use of an extra action).



In our second play we switched characters and played with Johannes Carpini and I chose Niccolo & Marco Polo. Johannes has the incredible and apparently divine ability of bilocation! On the map board he can transport from Oasis to Oasis anywhere on the map! Normally, traveling is a relatively costly endeavour that takes precious turns.

With Niccolo & Marco you can get two lovely renaissance Meeples, that can travel the map board, instead of the usual one. You are able to split your move allotment between the 2 pawns, this is a big assistance on the map portion of the board.



Though we were better prepared to play this 2nd session, the end of this quick game caught up to us. Our scores were quite a bit lower than the first, I scored 61 to my wife’s 49. I am sure we will try more new characters next time around.

As mentioned this game is quick. On top of limited actions you only have 5 fixed rounds before the game ends. Planning ahead seems to be important part of doing well in the game. You will likely leave the game wishing you had at least one more turn!

A further comparison to Grand Austria is the game weight and complexity. On BGG these are rated almost equally. Despite the fact that there isn’t any earth shattering new concepts in Marco Polo, I still found that there was a fair amount to take on for the first game. I will say the initial learning curve is well worth effort. After that first play you should really be good to go!

It also takes some time to understand all the iconography on the cards … I swear, our true universal language will just go back to solely using pictographs … maybe that’s not a bad thing  :white-meeple:


Full 2 player set up.
This can take a good amount of table space!
The cloth bag, cups and coins are not included in the game!



Always like to substitute metal coins into a game!

In the end, though there is some innovation in the dice mechanic and player powers, this is another conglomeration of Euro game elements. In my mind, this is in no-way a criticism. Maybe that is the best feature of a good designer, they can use the Euro game toolbox to come up with a better mousetrap or a better game.

I don’t see many negatives here but there is a lot to consider during the players turns and analysis paralysis could be an issue for some players. Regardless the game plays quick enough and definitely doesn’t outstay its welcome.

This one hits many positive notes for my wife and I. We have left feeling we want to play more, as soon as possible, to see if we can do better in our next play and to try some of the other game characters.

It’s too early to say if Marco Polo would equal or surpass our admiration of Grand Austria Hotel, regardless we look forward to more Voyages into the world of the spice trade!

Parting shot


This game did not disappoint and look forward to having this in the regular rotation!

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3631.0
Franks

Wanna play Carc? Can we add just one more expansion?

Offline Hproctor1478

  • Villein
  • ***
  • Posts: 43
  • Merit: 0
  • I haven't updated my profile yet!
    • View Profile
Re: The Voyages of Marco Polo - First plays, first impressions (image heavy)
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2017, 04:32:32 AM »
What a beautiful fun looking game!  Thank you so much for the review and all of the photos.  This now is on my list of games to purchase :). Also I️ may have to check out GAH. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline franks

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 500
  • Merit: 23
  • I love Carcassonne
    • View Profile
Re: The Voyages of Marco Polo - First plays, first impressions (image heavy)
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2017, 06:17:50 AM »
What a beautiful fun looking game!  Thank you so much for the review and all of the photos.  This now is on my list of games to purchase :). Also I️ may have to check out GAH. 
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks Hproctor1478,

Don't think you would be disappointed in either. There are still more great titles to be explored by these fine authors, like Lorenzo Il magnifico and Tzolk'in the Mayan Calendar. Hope to get a review of Lorenzo in at some point!

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/203993/lorenzo-il-magnifico

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/126163/tzolk-mayan-calendar

Offline Hproctor1478

  • Villein
  • ***
  • Posts: 43
  • Merit: 0
  • I haven't updated my profile yet!
    • View Profile
Re: The Voyages of Marco Polo - First plays, first impressions (image heavy)
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2017, 06:40:44 AM »
What a beautiful fun looking game!  Thank you so much for the review and all of the photos.  This now is on my list of games to purchase :). Also I️ may have to check out GAH. 
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks Hproctor1478,

Don't think you would be disappointed in either. There are still more great titles to be explored by these fine authors, like Lorenzo Il magnifico and Tzolk'in the Mayan Calendar. Hope to get a review of Lorenzo in at some point!

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/203993/lorenzo-il-magnifico

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/126163/tzolk-mayan-calendar

Both of those look very interesting!!!!  I️ will have to check them out:)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline Khonnor

  • Duke
  • *
  • Posts: 210
  • Merit: 10
    • View Profile
    • ~ add me on Facebook ~
Re: The Voyages of Marco Polo - First plays, first impressions (image heavy)
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2017, 03:31:04 AM »
I really like MP. I am interested in the expansion, but I think it's too expensive for what it offers.

Question about your "setup" photo. How come there are already meeples and trading posts in some cities?

Plus , with two players, you use 3 black dice.

 :)

Offline franks

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 500
  • Merit: 23
  • I love Carcassonne
    • View Profile
Re: The Voyages of Marco Polo - First plays, first impressions (image heavy)
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2017, 06:07:57 AM »
I really like MP. I am interested in the expansion, but I think it's too expensive for what it offers.

Question about your "setup" photo. How come there are already meeples and trading posts in some cities?

Plus , with two players, you use 3 black dice.

 :)

Hi Khonnor, I dont recall where we were at when I took the photo, looks like just after the first turn. Calling it 'set up' might not have been the best choice of words, rather the full layout of the entire game area!

The third black die is in my pool! I must have just received it. I'm guessing this is the first turm of the second round and I've collected 6 camels and chose a black die as a bonus action.

Edited and confirmed - there are 3 contract piles left, to the side, so it is indeed the start of the 2nd round. A pile of contracts have just been placed  :D

I will likely get the coming expansion. I have the mini HiG expansion that I had ordered from Cundco, but haven't tried that yet.

https://cundco.de/en/mini-expansions/auf-den-spuren-von-marco-polo/113/marco-polo-die-neuen-charaktere?c=59

Edited for clarity.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2017, 06:23:25 AM by franks »


Share via delicious Share via digg Share via facebook Share via furl Share via linkedin Share via myspace Share via reddit Share via stumble Share via technorati Share via twitter

  Subject / Started by Replies / Views Last post
xx
Current expansions review for The Voyages of Marco Polo

Started by franks

5 Replies
1861 Views
Last post June 03, 2018, 01:15:14 PM
by franks
xx
Fresco Big Box (image heavy)

Started by franks

3 Replies
999 Views
Last post October 08, 2017, 08:59:40 AM
by Decar
xx
Cinque Terre Board Game (a little image heavy)

Started by franks

4 Replies
2033 Views
Last post July 05, 2016, 09:42:59 PM
by franks
xx
SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch

Started by Sinscerly

1 Replies
770 Views
Last post February 07, 2018, 01:03:43 AM
by Chartreusito
xx
Century Spice Road - 1st impressions with photos

Started by franks

4 Replies
1330 Views
Last post August 30, 2017, 07:56:59 PM
by franks