Tigris and Euphrates

Published on November 16, 2011
By
Players:
2-4
Multiplayer:Yes, pass'n'play and online
AI:Yes, many levels of difficulty
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Reiner Knizia's Tigris & Euphrates
Price: $4.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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TE1 500x375 Tigris and Euphrates ipad screenshot

Tigris and Euphrates represents one of the most wonderfully balanced strategy games around. It is a game that is well over a decade old, and is the recipient of a number of honours, including the 1997 Meeples’ Choice Award and the 1998 Spiel des Jahres Recommended. Unlike my usual critique of many of the current spate of Reiner Kniza’s games, this one has scope, has depth, and is going to be one of the perennial favourites.

Gameplay

Tigris and Euphrates is a game of territory dominance through tile placement and resource management. You play one of four civilisations, being the Bull, the Archer, the Lion, and the Urn. Each civilisation has four leaders, which reflects the different areas of civilisation. The black leaders are the kings of the civilisation, and relates to urban settlements. The red leaders are the priests, and relate to the temples. The green are traders and the blues are farmers (relating to markets and farms respectively).

TE3 500x375 Tigris and Euphrates ipad screenshot

Your objective is to have the most balanced civilisation by the end of the game, for your final score is the lowest of your four scores (civic, religious, mercantile, and agriculture). This is perhaps the best aspect of the game’s balance, because while it is really easy to become dominant in one area, it becomes difficult to be really safe in one or even two areas but still balanced across all areas. Typical scores in the end will often reveal more than 20 in your leading areas of development, and perhaps 5-10 in your weakest.

In each turn you have two actions you can take. You can a) place a tile from your hand (including special disaster tiles of which you have a total of two), b) place a leader (either from off the board or relocate a leader on the board), and c) replace tiles from your hand (this is the least desirable move). Much of the game revolves around the placement of the leaders and the kingdoms that are attached to them. Your work is to try and expand at just the right pace, and be prepared for the inevitable conflict. Note: that in placing leaders, you must place a leader adjacent to a red temple. This clearly limits the availability of starting points for any leaders, and will show that red tiles are a key tactical resource for the game.

TE4 500x375 Tigris and Euphrates ipad screenshot

When it comes to placing tiles, you will have a random assortment of six tiles ranging in the four aforementioned colours. You can place these tiles anywhere on the board, with one exception. Blue tiles can only be placed on river squares, and no other tiles can be placed on those river squares. However, ideally you are trying to build and expand your various kingdoms. The key to understanding this is that a kingdom is one single contiguous area of touching tiles (but not those that touch diagonally). This means that a single tile is a single kingdom. When you place a tile, it will award a victory point of that colour to the appropriate leader within that kingdom. If there is a leader matching the colour of the tile placed, they acquire the point, otherwise it can go to the king.

At certain points, if you are able to create a grid of 2×2 of the same colour, you can immediately build a monument. This removes those four tiles and places a bicoloured monument (one of those colours must be of the coloured tiles that formed the grid). Monuments are key strategic resources for they generate one victory point of those two colours each turn, and will be awarded in the fashion described above (to the leader of same colour or else to a black leader).

TE7 500x375 Tigris and Euphrates ipad screenshot

The other main source of points is through treasures. The starting set up will begin with a preset layout of temples. Each with a treasure on it. At the end of a turn, if these temples are joined up such that the whole kingdom has more than one treasure within it, the player who owns the trader attached to that kingdom (if any) takes one of those treasures. Treasures count as wild victory points, being added to your lowest score at the end of the game.

One of the ways that the game enjoys a lot of balance is through revolts and through wars. Revolts occur when you challenge the leadership of an existing kingdom by placing a leader on a kingdom that already has a leader of that colour. Revolts are resolved by comparing the number of temples adjacent to the relevant leaders and then throwing in a bunch of temples from your hand. The highest pool wins and the loser is removed from the board (but may be placed again later). Wars occur when a tile is placed such that it joins two existing kingdoms that contain leaders of the same colour. This is resolved similarly, but the strength of each leaders is based on the number of tiles of their colour in the entire kingdom plus whatever tiles you throw in from your hand. The loser’s leader is removed from the kingdom, as well as all the tiles of that colour (of the original kingdom). Defenders win ties.

Naturally, through the removal of leaders and tiles it is possible to cause the break up of kingdoms into many smaller units. For this reason, there is a lot of importance in the order that these wars are resolved. The attacker has the choice of this resolution. It is here that you see where disasters come in handy. Disaster tiles effectively destroy a block of land and severing any connections it may have created. That square is forever useless.

TE5 500x375 Tigris and Euphrates ipad screenshot

Implementation

Effectively, everything about this game is exquisite. It is everything I could have hoped for and finally allows me to enjoy the challenge of Tigris and Euphrates at my leisure. The lesson we are learning from Codito is that while they do take their time to get games out, they get them out right. At this point Codito is rising out of obscurity and is readily giving Days of Wonder a run for their money.

TE2 500x375 Tigris and Euphrates ipad screenshot

There were some initial concerns about the quality of the graphics, but having owned the game personally I can affirm that they are a faithful replication of the original pieces. There is a lovely atmosphere generated by the music, which easily took me off to the mindset for the game (and made me miss my train stop). Most importantly the game has the trifecta of gamer approval. It has online and pass’n’play multiplayer, it has single player AI (with different levels of difficulty), and a tutorial mode that walks you through the game. I even enjoyed the tutorial mode, despite being an old hack at this game. It helped me remember some of the rules for a game that I haven’t played in a long time.

TE6 500x375 Tigris and Euphrates ipad screenshot

However, unless you own a copy of this game (preferably the Second Edition), what you won’t know is what they have left out. Namely, the expansions and variables. In the game we have we get only the basic map – the physical board can be flipped over to show an advanced map for a bigger challenge. Additionally, we don’t see the civilisation buildings, or the ziggurats (both for advanced games). Hopefully in the not too distant future these will be released as an in-game purchase as they do probably qualify as an expansion.

Verdict

9/10: Do not doubt that this game is worth your time, money, and investment. It’s deep strategy will not make it the most accessible of games, but it ranks up there as a brilliant game.

Tigris and Euphrates, 8.2 out of 10 based on 310 ratings

Review By: Angelus Morningstar

Completed a Masters of Jurisprudence at University of Sydney. I am an activist, dramaturge, and instigator of strange mind experiments. I’m a storyteller, and I mostly tell stories about people. These aren’t always stories you’ll find written down, they can be stories told over a coffee, told by firelight, told through art act and lifestyle. Of course, we all tell stories. We love our little fictions, lies and dreams – I just like to embellish a bit more than most. My current project of substantial size is called Eidolon. It can be found here: http://www.eidolon.me
Players:
2-4
Multiplayer:Yes, pass'n'play and online
AI:Yes, many levels of difficulty
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Reiner Knizia's Tigris & Euphrates
Price: $4.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
a WordPress rating system
Share this review:

23 comments
Rubeus
Rubeus

This is a good game for iPad but for my taste is too abstract. I played a few games against the AI and haven´t won a single one... DOUGH!!  :-(  

Totally agree with Withnail, and good review, Angelus: well done!!

Withnail
Withnail

I'm sure there was an earlier version of this review, that I saw about a month ago, which heaped praise onto the Tutorial in this game. I tried to post a comment disagreeing with that, which never appeared ... and now I see the review is much less enthusiastic about the Tutorial. In my opinion the Tutorial needs a lot of work. Playing this game for the first time, I was very confused indeed after going through the Tutorial! In the end I watched 3 videos on YouTube about the boardgame, before I understood how to play the game. There is also a major flaw in the Tutorial, which should have been picked up in testing. It's possible to make a mistake when following the Tutorial instructions, without realising - e.g. you can play black tiles when you should be playing red ones. Later on, when you are instructed to play black tiles, you then find you don't have any. This is extremely confusing until you realise what has happened! Overall I think this is a very good game, well adapted for the iPad and with good AI. But I'm glad to see that the Tutorial is no longer being praised undeservedly.

Jasper
Jasper

Hi, Nice review. Great site also :-). What I miss though, and also in other reviews, is if pass 'n play works nicely. In many games you have a hand which should be hidden from the other player which I can imagine is a bit more difficult in a pass 'n play setting. Is that bothersome in this game?

JP
JP

Great review! Bought the game based on it (after having played the physical version for over a decade) and have been very happy with the play and implementation. Two notes: one commenter complains about the inability to see the changing state of the board; he will find that the "Last Moves" button in the "Options" menu is what he's looking for. It's a complete list of all moves in the game, and clicking on the player's symbol for any move will highlight it on the board. Personally I'd prefer it be highlighted by default, but it's definitely functional. And one (tiny!) rules clarification: the King (black leader) can only collect VPs from black-colored monuments (he can collect all colors via normal tile placement in absence of another, but this does not apply to monuments as the review states). Keep the reviews coming, I just got Dominion on iPad yesterday and can't put it down!

Chance
Chance

I had never played T&E before buying this app, so I really appreciated the introductory game. It's probably the best one I've seen on the iPad.

Alex
Alex

I quite like this game, but would like a 'colourblind' option. Or a change to some clearer colours. I can't tell the red and green which the app uses apart, so I often have to guess whether my opponent has placed a Priest or a Trader.

Matt VanAndel
Matt VanAndel

While I agree that this is Codito's highest quality game yet, they still aren't REMOTELY in the same league as Days of Wonder. Not even close. In fact, this is the only app they've released so far that hasn't downright outraged me from a design or usability standpoint. That said, I can't and won't ever forgive them for the abomination they released as Puerto Rico. The game "works", but it's one of the most foul combinations of ugly and confusing that I've ever been subjected to. Puerto Rico deserved much, much better (for that matter, so did Tikal).

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

Hey Angelus, great work on these reviews. Just wondering, though if you might have a chance to update the list of upcoming games? Some of the games gave already been released, but, more important, some games have slipped their schedule. It would be cool if we could get updated ETAs for those games.

Nameless
Nameless

Indeed, there games are graphical not very well designed. That's the reason I didn't buy it. But it's about the gameplay.

UncleT
UncleT

Another game from Codito ignoring the original graphics. The artwork is pretty bad compared to the (two) boardgames. In gameplay terms it might be a good conversion, but the uninspired artwork keeps me from purchasing their games. I think I am not alone with this opinion.

Mark Harding
Mark Harding

A MAJOR OMISSION in this app is that in online multiplayer it does not show you the moves your opponents make after you return to the game. It only shows the current state of the board leaving you clueless as to what has occurred. NOT GOOD and needs to be addressed if this app is to stand up to longterm play.

Nepenthe82
Nepenthe82

Great game so far. The AI is very competitive! Also FYI Forbidden Island came out today!

mark
mark

Thank you for responding so quick. Please cast my vote as a 10 (very impressed so far)

Angelus Morningstar
Angelus Morningstar

I'll bring this to the attention of the website owner to see if there is something to be done.

mark
mark

I have by accident cast a low vote (easy to do on this website) - how can i change this ???

Angelus Morningstar
Angelus Morningstar

Perhaps you were remembering the Year in review post I did about two months ago?

James Bruce
James Bruce

It's a little bit annoying, since the game assumes you play with it in front of you rather than passing the device over - presumbaly it wants you to shield your pieces with your hand. Pieces are hidden on the opponents go though, and there is a notification you have to click "its player 1's turn" before they are revealed.

Angelus Morningstar
Angelus Morningstar

I'm thinking of creating a sticky post of games that we are expecting, and updating that list as games are released or delayed. Currently in discussion around it.

James Bruce
James Bruce

Hmm, that does sound a bit annoying. I'm absolutely loving the single player vs AI right now, but I havent tried multiplayer yet.

Angelus Morningstar
Angelus Morningstar

Well that's another one on my plate. I've already done reviews for Hey, that's my Fish!, Crimson: Steam Pirates. I'm about to do a review for Keltis HD and for Tactical Soldier. Guess I can add this to the list :)

James Bruce
James Bruce

Hi Mark. I've deleted your vote, so you should be able to vote again. I'm afraid we can't artificially add one for you though.

Trackbacks

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