Marrakech, some say, is a deeply strategic contest between 2-4 players, in which carpet-sellers demonstrate their cunning by claiming territory, and, with some Monopoly-like glee, collecting vast quantities of their opponents’ Dirhams. Others, however, will feel equally justified in saying that Marrakech is ultimately a game of luck, where success or failure is determined by the will of Allah and the toss of the proverbial die. In truth, it is the blend of luck and strategy that makes Marrakech such an attractive game, and extends its range of appeal from kids to adults to the entire family (the youngest being older than 6).

The board (Rug Market Square) is a 7×7 matrix. Each player has a collection of carpets (rectangular pieces of fabric that cover two squares), and wooden coins equal to 30 Dirhams. When the game begins, Assam the market owner (the one large wooden playing piece) is placed in the center of the board. The first player positions Assam in the direction she wants Assam to move, and then throws the large, wooden die, which will cause Assam to move in the direction he is facing from 1-4 spaces. When Assam has finished moving, the player lays a carpet down at Assam’s feet (vertically or horizontally adjacent to Assam’s position in the Rug Market Square). And yes, carpets can be laid on top of other player’s carpets.

The game continues this way, players taking turns, positioning Assam, throwing the die, and laying down carpet. If Assam ends his turn standing on another player’s rug, that player gets paid one Dirham for every square covered by connecting carpets. When all carpets are laid, the player with the most squares covered, and the most Dirhams collected, wins the game.

Our Tasters (teens, ranging in age from 12-17) couldn’t stop playing the game. The older players were determined to figure out how much of one’s success one could attribute to fate, and how much to one’s carpet-laying cunning. The younger were equally determined to walk away with the vastest riches, regardless of whether their superior fortune was a result of luck or skill. Despite all the other games they could have played, and my urging them to at least try something else, they played Marrakesh for the entire two hours of our 90-minute Tasting. They strategized. They contemplated. They advised. They chortled. And they played again.

The rules are easy enough to learn in 15 minutes. The game simple enough for people to play intelligently almost immediately after they learn the rules. The rule book is written in 9 languages, and illustrated clearly enough to answer any questions.

Designed by Dominique Ehrhard, Marrakech is available in the United States through Fundex Games, Marrakech proved most clearly to be Major FUN.

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