I’ve always been fascinated by nomadic cultures. People moving from place to place, never settling down for too long in a given location. I take a lot of inspiration from nomads by applying their methodology to my mental framework; we can’t dwell on the past or get too comfortable from where we are. If we want to grow, we must expand our exposure to new experiences and learning opportunities.
My first gamertag even combined two of my favorite things: the lost city of Atlantis and nomads. But alas, that’s a story for another time.
In Targi, designed by Andreas Steiger and published most recently by KOSMOS, you assume the role of a leader of a Tuareg tribe hoping to elevate your family to new heights through trade. And, in true nomadic fashion, you won’t be able to just do the same thing over and over again expecting success.
You’ll have to constantly shift your strategy if you want to go down in history as an amazingly beneficial leader.
Targi: Scour the Desert
Targi is a two-player game that combines worker placement, tableau-building, and Euro elements together. Players take turns placing their workers to create intersections over a grid of cards. After the workers are placed, players receive the benefits of the cards at each intersection.
In addition, the actual placement location matters; the entire outside edge is static with extra bonuses for placing workers in those locations. The interior grid is replenished with new good cards and tribe cards each turn.
Essentially what ends up happening is an anticipation game with your opponent. You want to block them from obtaining resources that they’re looking for while putting yourself in a position to get what you want. This usually means settling for your second or third choice.
The point of the resource gathering is to gather tribe cards to put in your tableau. Once a player places their twelfth card, the game is over. Alternatively, there is a robber that circles the board and forces players to pay resources at predefined intervals. Once that robber gets back to the starting position, the game is also over.
Staking Our C.L.A.I.M on Targi
With Targi predominantly being a card-based game, it’s important that these cards hold up to constant use. Not only are intersection markers being placed on top of them, but the cards undergo a lot of stress as they move from the deck to the playing area. Overall I’m pleased with the quality of the cards, although they’re nothing to write home about.
The game also comes with a bunch of cardboard tokens that represent the various resources: dates, salt, and pepper. Additionally, there are tokens for the player marker, points, and golden coins. Again, these aren’t flimsy and they serve their purpose.
Lastly, you’re getting some wooden tokens to use for the worker placement and intersection portion of the game. These are fairly generic cylinders – nothing more, nothing less.
Insert obligatory ‘decks of cards create luck’ comment. It’s true! However, it also provides randomness and variability in gameplay, so there’s method to the madness in utilizing multiple decks of cards for the Goods and Tribes.
Although the cards available to take are random, the game itself is hardly reliant on luck at all. Players know that the cards they’ll receive are at the intersection points of their meeples. Therefore, it’s on them to outwit their opponent to try and get cards that work into their overall tableau-building strategy.
The new box art with the Kosmos version really grabs my attention. It’s bold, sleek, and makes you wonder what this abstract game is all about.
Beyond that, the game doesn’t really have much in terms of artwork. The art that is present is well-done, but it’s hardly prominent on the cards. Text tends to take the wheel with the rest of the art taking more of a backseat ride.
Again, not winning any awards for presentation, which is a real shame because I really enjoy the gameplay.
Targi is a game designed to pit two people against one another, locked in an eternal battle of wits and wagers. Okay, so maybe it’s not THAT extreme. However, if you like 1v1 board games, then you could do a lot worse than this little gem.
Since the gameplay is centered around a combination of worker placement and tableau-building, fans of games like Azul (a contender for the Nerdie Award for Best Board Game of 2018!) or Agricola:All Creatures Big and Small will probably jump at the opportunity to enjoy Targi.
That being said, I find the abstract gameplay to be the real draw here; there aren’t dazzling components or striking artwork to pique your interest. It’s not necessarily a quick game either – expect to play for about an hour or longer if you’re unfamiliar with the cards.
Worker placement games don’t necessarily shine at invoking a lot of emotions. Sometimes they convey their theme well, while other times the theme is nothing more than a thin veil for the mechanics.
With Targi, you’re getting the later. Honestly, this game could be about practically anything else and you wouldn’t even bat an eye. Collecting oysters, building robots, stamping travel visas – none of these would surprise me with a reskinned version of the game.
Although Targi is conceptually simple to understand, the gameplay has some deeper logic puzzles behind it so it’s not a ‘light’ two-player game like Blossoms (Spoiler alert – my next review will be about that flower-growing game).
Uncover the Beautiful Game
Based on my comments above, it hardly seems like I should be rating this game highly. My most positive feedback is in the ‘Interest’ section, and even that is lackluster. But don’t be fooled!
This is one of my favorite two-player abstract games! I’m giving Targi the Nerds on Earth Seal of Awesomeness, passing it with low-flying colors. Sure, it’s not schnazzy or overly inventive, but it doesn’t have to be. Targi is being exactly what it set out to be from the beginning: a strategic two-player tableau-builder.
Targi is the Optimus Prime of two-player board games.
There’s more than meets the eye.