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Der Markt von Alturien
Author: Wolfgang Kramer
Publisher: Pro Ludo
Year: 2007

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Alturien, the legend tells, was in the Middle Ages a small country somewhere between Germany, Italy, and Spain. The beginning of this legend brings us to the country’s market, nicely located on the coast. The players represent trade families who have to try to make their fortune on the market, given only a small starting capital.

The market is nicely depicted on the large game board. The market has been divided into six districts, each with its own colour. At the beginning of the game the players give the market’s six customers their starting position. There are three types of these customers: one grande, two marquis, and three barons. Next the players place four of their trading houses. The turn of a player starts with a throw of the die, whereupon one of the customers must be moved forward. When this customer arrives on a spot with one or more trading houses of a player, preferably in its own colour, then this customer buys in this trading house which gets the player income: the number of trading houses on this spot multiplied by the value of the customer: three for the grande, two for the marquis, and only one for the baron. An additional bonus of two is obtained when the player has the majority of trading houses in the current district.
Finally, the player can make exactly one investment: build a new trading house, for example, or extend an already existing trading house. For the extension purposes, the trading houses can be nicely stacked. Building a trading houses on a darkly coloured market place is more expensive. This may turn out to be rather lucrative, since these places gives a player income at the start of the player turn, when a customer has been left in this trading house for the entire round. For the considerable amount of twelve Reaal, the local currency in Alturien, one can also buy a prestige card. These prestige cards are the actual goal of the game; while they don’t have a function during the game, the first player with three of these cards wins. With the included extension the choices for investment become even larger; the player can choose from four possible investment cards, each giving a nice advantage during the game, like additional income when any trading house is visited, or throwing an additional die at the beginning of the turn. However, a player can have a maximum of two of these cards.

It seems to be a rather peaceful market in Alturien; players move the customers from market place to market place, and they earn and invest some money. However, it doesn’t stay this way for long. When a player’s funds exceeds ten Reaal, Gustavo, nicknamed 'the Weasel' makes his appearance. Gustavo is a professional thief, and is the seventh figure on the board. From this moment each player also has the opportunity to move the thief. Whenever the thief ends his move in a player’s trading house, he strikes, and steals from the owner an amount of money equal to two times the number of trading houses. Of course, this money goes to the player that moved the thief in the first place. An additional advantage of moving the thief is that the player may throw the die again, and move a customer or even the thief again. A third throw is not allowed anymore. As compensation, the robbed player is now protected by the town guard, preventing a second consecutive hit by the thief. Not entirely realistic but understandable from a board game perspective, the richest player never gets such a protection.

As soon as a player has obtained three prestige cards the game ends, after ending the round. With five or six players there may be a shortage of prestige cards (a total of 14 are available), making a timely investing advisable.


The game looks very promising: it has a nice, beautifully looking, large board, and very nice playing material (cards and figures). The money in the game looks a bit cheap and disappointing, compared to all the other components. Playing this game it soon becomes apparent that this is a lightweight family game. It is therefore not clear why the publisher finds this game not suitable for the eight and nine years olds among us.
Unfortunately it must be concluded that this game does not live up to its expectations. The first game was soon over without even a hint of excitement or tension. We may have a rule wrong maybe? No, we should play more aggressively, that may be the problem! So let’s use the thief more often! After several plays it becomes clear that our playing style is not the real problem of the game. The apparent tactical choices that a player can make, are typically only ripples in the Sea of Die Luck. A couple of good throws, some inattention of the players, and the first one or two prestige cards are in the pocket! And this thief, well, let’s just move him out of the way, shall we?
No, this game is not going to make it in the already overcrowded family game market. A better game may be expected from a notable game designer like Wolfgang Kramer. The experienced family players will find more innovative and challenging games are available to spend their valuable spare time, while the beginners will - maybe satisfyingly - conclude that nothing changed since the time that they played games in their childhood, probably 25-30 years ago.

Part two of the Alturian legend promises us a visit to the capital of the country. Still to be looked forward to of course, but for the moment Alturien will not get a travel recommendation!
© 2007 Edwin van de Sluis

Der Markt von Alturien, Wolfgang Kramer, Pro Ludo, 2007 - 2 to 6 players, 10 years and up, 60 minutes

* With an extra point for the execution
* It has a touch of Monopoly, but compared to it Monopoly is a complex and multi layer game...
* With an extra point for the nicely illustrated board
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