Posted Thursday, 28-May-2015
A compilation of reviews for the Days of Wonder board game Five Tribes.
Five Tribes is a area-influence & strategy board game that calls on players to maneuver the ‘five tribes’ in order to become the next sultan. While it may not offer the accessibility and fast-paced game-play of other Days of Wonder titles, it’s nonetheless earned a reputation of being a great analytical strategy game.
While borrowing some gaming mechanics from the ancient game Mancala, Five Tribes involves strategically moving colored meeples around a city (represented by a 30 tiled playing area) in order to score the most points. Those 30 city tiles can change every game, allowing for basically an unlimited amount of gaming scenarios.
Turn order in Five Tribes is decided by having players pay a certain amount of coins, giving the game a brief auctioneer-styled approach.
Once turn order is decided, the first player to go will choose a tile and then they can move the meeples to adjacent tiles ‘mancala’ style, with the only restriction being that the final tile must share a similarly colored meeple with the last meeple the player has in their hand. The matching meeples that a player collects determines that player’s bonuses or actions for the turn.
Josh Edwards of BoardGameReviewsByJosh.com explains how different colored meeples offer different advantages. While certain meeples allow players to accumulate victory-points, Edwards notes other ways that the accumulation of meeples can help players:
“Some allow players to acquire powerful Djinns which can grant either in-game or end-game bonuses. And others will allow players to go to the market, and attempt to assemble sets of goods card which can be traded in for large amounts of points/money.”
Keith Law from Paste Magazine explains the winning conditions of Five Tribes, “The game ends when any player has placed all eight of his camels on tiles (taking control of them) or when there are no legal moves remaining on the board.”
Reviewers generally describe game-play as being slow and analytical with some downtime, but an otherwise great game to play with people who don’t mind chatting or doing other things while one person stares at the board weighing their seemingly unlimited amount of options.
Five Tribes is a great game for players who thrive on strategic analysis, but maybe not for those who are known to freeze up in the moment or prefer faster game-play. If you or your fellow players are prone to analysis paralysis, be prepared for a longer game.
Dale Yu, writing for Opinionated Gamers said “Five Tribes is a distinct departure from previous DoW releases – this is a “gamers game”, not the usual family-oriented game that you have come to expect from the company. Five Tribes is a game for the serious strategy gamer.”
Andrew Smith from BoardGameQuest.com also shared the sentiment that this game was not for the impatient player or for those who have a history of over-analyzing things:
“Analysis paralysis is a real problem for Five Tribes, we’ve often had to set some timers to keep the game moving along. Beware, AP-prone gamers, your head may explode!”
Andrew Smith’s BoardGameQuest.com review gave Five Tribes “5 stars – A great, well-designed, unique strategy game. Days of Wonder hit a home run with their first “gamer’s game.”
Likewise, Josh Edwards writing for Boardgame Reviews by Josh gave a near perfect score:
“Five Tribes absolutely lives up to the hype that surrounded it during Gen Con. The game is a solid 9.0 in my book – one of my favorite releases this year.”
Dale Yu from Opinionated Gamer also gave the game a positive review, “Overall, I have enjoyed my first three games of Five Tribes, and I am still looking forward to playing it some more in the coming months.”
While it may not appeal to those looking for a fast game with lots of player interactivity, Five Tribes is a great game for analytical strategists, fans of algorithmic logistics and area-control type strategy games.
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