Author: Reiner Knizia

Publisher: Alea 2000

Deutscher Spiele Preis



Tadsch Mahal by Reiner Knizia was the winner of the Deutscher Spiele Preis Awards 2000. In this strategical boardgame the players take up the role of Maharadschas in 18th century India, trying to win most influence over the north-western area of the Indian sub-continent.

Basically, the players have two possibilities to acquire victory points during the 12 turns of the game (the number of turns corresponds to the number of provinces on the gameboard - each turn the players are bidding for one province). On the one hand, players will get points for palaces which they own in the current province and in any other provinces which are directly (by roads) connected to his palaces in the current province. Furthermore, the players can also score victory points by acquiring goods. These goods can be acquired by getting military control over a province or by placing palaces at certain crucial positions.

However, there is no movement of tokens on the gameboard, but instead all the action in the game is based on cardplay. Cards of five different colours exist in the game (red, green, blue, yellow and white), and these cards show different combinations of symbols (which are standing for different influences an powers in society): the Monk, the General, the Wesir, the Princess, the Großmogul and the Elephant. At the beginning of the game, each player is randomly dealt 6 cards, and during the game players usually acquire two more cards per turn.

Once the province which will be the center of the action for the current turn has been found, the players will begin with their cardplay. Basically, once a player has chosen to play cards of one colour, he is not allowed to use cards of another colour anymore in the same province. An exception here are the white cards, which can be used as jokers and played together with any of the other colours. Playing one card (or an additional white card) per step, the players now in turn start to place cards openly in front of them. This procedure continues until a player chooses to drop out of the contest, and if this happens the cards which he has played so far will be evaluated. If the player dropping out has played more cards showing one of the four basic symbols (the Monk, the General, the Wesir, the Princess) than any of the other players, he will be allowed to place a palace onto one of the free crossroads in the province. Furthermore, he will receive a token depicting the symbol in which he had the majority. This majority may be held for more than one symbol, and the procedure listed above will be repeated for each symbol won. With the placement of the palaces, a player may possibly acquire special victory point markers, since some of the crossroads are fortresses, and building on such a place will allow a player to acquire one of the special markers placed there.

If the player should have the majority of Großmogul-symbols, he will be allowed to place a palace onto any of the crossroads in the province, even if a palace should already stand there. If the player holds a majority of Elephants, he is not allowed to place a palace but instead he will receive the basic goods income from that province.

Once these actions have been performed, the player's acquisitions in that province will be turned into victory points, allowing the player to score points for goods (including goods of the same kind which have been accumulated in previous turns) and palaces (extra points are available if the player has a direct connection between his palaces in the current province and palaces in previously played provinces. Furthermore, a player may also receive a special white card: To each of the four basic symbols (the Monk, the General, the Wesir, the Princess), a special card with a special ability is assigned, and these cards can be normally used during the playing-cards-phase. However, the most important attribute is that these cards are not lost, since once a current province has been totally evaluated, the player owning that card is allowed to take it back onto his hand, having the card available once again in the next province. Such cards can be acquired by discarding two tokens showing the corresponding symbol, and once the possible acquisition of a special card has been determined, the player ends his turn by drawing two new cards, but discarding all the cards which he had used in the current province.

All the other players now continue playing cards following the normal procedure, and one after the other the players will decide to drop out of the bidding. Following the same procedure as listed above, their cards will be evaluated and they will receive victory points, with the exception that they cannot score anymore for symbols for which a player which has already dropped out had scored. In the end, the last player left will also be evaluated after having played his last cards. However, in difference to the other players, the last player will only get one new card for his hand (if running out of cards, a player may also decide to refuse bidding for one province completely, thus being allowed to draw three cards).

Once the bidding-contests have been made for all 12 provinces on the gameboard, the game is over and the player with most victory points has won.

As it is typical with most Reiner Knizia games, Tadsch Mahal offers a delicate and sophisticated playing procedure. The various possiblities available to the players to score victory points allow a fair and balanced gameplay, and the game itself is quite entertaining the play. Especially the bidding-contests offer a high element of strategy, forcing players to plan ahead and to decide whether it would be profitable to bid for a certain province or whether it would be better to refrain from playing cards and save powers for a further province. Due to its very good playability, the game definately is a worthy award-winner, and - a fact which always is of particular interest to me - the game also offers a good reflection of its background story, a fact which could not be discovered in many of the previous Knizia-games.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany