Anyone else feeling a little stressed now that the holidays have (finally?) come around again? Yeah, me too. It’s cold, traffic is ramping up more and more each day, and I just feel a little bit cranky…which leads me to think, has there ever been a better time to bundle up with some hot chocolate and cookies and play a nice, relaxing board game?
No. There hasn’t.
Luckily, I’ve discovered a game that dulls the stress of the holiday rush! Passing Through Petra is a release from Renegade Game Studios that I would call a near-perfect match for my personal “perfect board game” formula!
- It provides a challenge (without making me want to put my fist through a wall),
- the gameplay is complex, yet manageable, and
- it’s the perfect length for you nerds who tend to have busier schedules (about an hour per game is the average)! You can play in groups of 2-4, but 4 is the recommended group size for optimum gameplay!
Passing Through Petra: WHEN IN PETRA…
Your role in the game is a citizen of Petra, working to grow your reputation by trading with members of a caravan and allowing them into your market row! Trading with caravan members (selecting trader tiles, color-coded by location) from the different locations (Egypt, Rome, China, and India) allows you to gain influence with them, which is what ultimately wins you points. On your turn, you will first move your merchant pawn one space on the city grid, and the direction in which you move (toward the Plaza, Siq, Market, or Village) will determine your location action:
- Plaza: Players will select two trader tiles from the Plaza section of the caravan and move them into your market row from the left-hand side, moving the two that fall out of the two rightmost positions in the row to their corresponding settlement columns.
- Siq: This time, select one trader tile from the Siq section of the caravan; just like you did with the Plaza action, move the tile into the market row from the left and move the rightmost tile into the corresponding settlement.
- Market: It’s finally time to trade! You will use a worker to designate one of your settlements to do trade with their corresponding group (known as that group’s trading partner) in your market row. Multiply the number of traders in the settlement by the number of trading partners in the market, giving you the trade value. Once you have this, use the number equal to the trade value to move your marker on that tile type’s progress track; certain spaces on each track are marked to either give you bonuses or allow you to place influence and win the game!
- Village: The first step in this action is to retrieve any and all workers that you have placed under your settlement columns and return them back into your possession. Once that’s done, hire one villager (the number of workers you retrieved determines the number of villagers for you to choose from) and carry out the corresponding action.
Remember to refill the caravan when it depletes to the marker, repeat, and it’s game over as soon as a player puts their last influence cube down!
Passing Through Petra: WHAT I LOVED
Impeccable Gameplay Formula: If you, as a humble player, make the conscious decision to pass through Petra (which I highly encourage!), you will be dazzled by the efficiency with which this game was designed; game designer J. Alex Kevern and Renegade Game Studios have created a very complex, yet well organized and planned out system and laid it out elegantly. As someone who hates clutter, I loved it. Five stars.
Game Length: I can’t stress enough how much I appreciated the fact that this game can be played in an hour. I don’t often have as much time as I would like to spend several hours to finish a game, so this one was especially nice for me.
Manageable and Enjoyable Challenge: There is a good amount of strategy and planning to this game, but it never made me go cross-eyed out of frustration. When it all boils down, this game has very simple directions, but there is a plethora of options to choose from in following those directions. So, repetitiveness is never an issue; the gameplay stays pretty lively and fresh.
Family Friendly: I’m also a huge sucker for games that I feel like would be fun for families. The recommendation is for ages 14 and up; I think that if you’ve raised a mini-nerd who has board gaming experience, 12 and up would be just fine. Play on, moms and dads.
So, as I mentioned before, this game was just what I needed to chase away my holiday stress and strain! I feel refreshed, renewed, and ready to enjoy this hot chocolate and warm blanket as I play another round. Passing Through Petra is set to release December 12, 2018, retails for $60, and is available from the Renegade Game Studios website or better yet, ask for it at your FLGS.
[Disclosure: Renegade Game Studios provided Nerds on Earth with a copy of Passing Through Petra in exchange for an honest review.]