The Sultanate of Naqala is a broken kingdom, waiting for a new ruler. Who will take the throne? Can you move and influence the five tribes that cover the land? Or will one of the three other players invoke the djinns to grant their wishes?
Five Tribes is a superb board game from Bruno Cathala and publisher Days of Wonder. You know what you get with Days of Wonder: outstanding family-weight games, with top quality artwork and components. There’s a superb blend of bidding, set collection and a mancala system, wrapped up in a 1001 Nights theme.
Naqala consists of a modular 6×5 grid of tiles, with three random meeples starting on each tile. These tribe-meeples come in one of five colours – each one of the five tribes. On your turn you pick up all the tribe meeples from one tile, and then drop one of them off at an adjacent tile. Then you’ll drop another on a following adjacent tile, and again…
You end your turn by placing a final meeple on a tile where at least one matching coloured meeple sits. You then remove all meeples of this colour ‘tribe’ from this tile, and activate that tribe’s power.
Each tribe offers different traits. Some offer money, others offer rare goods (did somebody say ‘set collection’?). The wise Elders can help summon djinns – powerful genies who love to make their own rules. Viziers provide big end-game point-scoring promises. Meanwhile, the red tribe are assassins, and kill other tribe meeples!
After the tribe’s action, you do the tile action (where you ended your turn). Markets let you buy cards and Sacred Grounds are where you summon djinns. When you empty a tile territory of tribespeople, you get to claim that section. When there’s no legal mancala moves left, or if someone claims their final territory tile, it’s time to add up. Most points wins!
With different strategies to take and a modular set-up each time, no two games of Five Tribes are alike.
Player count: 2-4 players
Time: 40-80 minutes