After playing Gobi a few times there are things I like about it, but I feel like there are stronger games out there that are similar to it.
Theme and What is it?
The Gobi Desert is legendary for its brutal terrain and impassable sandstorms. It is after one of these sandstorms where our story begins. The tribes who are brave enough to transverse this desert have found themselves mixed up, disoriented and lost from each other. In order to survive they must rely on each other and work together to overcome these difficult conditions. Being separated is not an option. Everyone needs each other to ensure the whole tribe survives. Your job is to help the tribes locate one another and reconnect.
Gobi is a tile placement/route creation game for 2-4 players.
All tiles are shuffled and four tiles are drawn to create the beginning area. The rest of the tiles are distributed equally among players to create their draw piles. Each player collects 10 camels of the same color. The gift, blessing and coffee tiles are shuffled and set out next to the board with the top tile face up. At this point the game is setup and ready to play.
Players take turns drawing a tile from the top of their pile and laying it on the board. Each tile has the name of a tribe on it. Tribes cannot be played on tiles next to each other. When a player lays down a tile, they place a camel on all adjacent tiles (not diagonally) that are touching that tile.
Once players have created a path of camels that connect two tiles from the same tribe, they immediately connect those tribes by removing the two camels on the end of the connection. If the connection is 3-4 tiles long, the players may select any face up gift or blessing tiles. These award victory points and provide special moves or extra end game points. If the player creates a five-camel route, they may select a blessing or gift or they can take a coffee tile. The coffee tiles are worth seven victory points.
Play continues until all tiles have been played or discarded. The player with the most victory points wins!
The Gobi rulebook was a quick read and set up went well. Once I had things ready to go, I started to teach the other players. They had a difficult time visualizing the goal of the game and it took about half the game to really have them grasp the concepts. I am not sure why this happened. I played with some seasoned gamers who usually pick up on games with no issue. Once they understood the game, they did well but by that point I was too far ahead to have any competition.
I asked if they wanted to try again because it was a fairly quick game. Both responded that they would rather try something else. This was not surprising to me since they did struggle with it.
As for myself, I enjoyed the game. I didn’t like watching the other players have such a rough go with it. Maybe I did a bad job at explaining it. There were things I liked about Gobi and there were things that I didn’t care for. I will explore these throughout the review.
Game Build Quality
The quality of Gobi is up to industry standards. The camel meeples are fun and probably my favorite feature. The cardboard for the tiles is the box and is heavy duty and will hold up well.
This is where Gobi falls flat for me. The tile art is minimalistic and very redundant. It shows a tent with a tribe name on it. It accomplishes what it needs to accomplish and does nothing else. The cover art on the box looked fantastic and was what drew me in, so I was very disappointed once I opened the box and saw that nothing from the cover made it to the game.
I love seeing a great looking finished game, especially when it is a tile laying game. Gobi was rather bland once it was all laid out.
Trying to set up paths between tribes is the best part of Gobi. It can be challenging to create a path long enough to collect coffee, which gives the most victory points. Because there are only five or six tribes (I didn’t really pay attention because the art was the same for everything) it makes it tough to create long chains. Usually you create paths through two or three tribes before you match tribes on the ends of your camel path. Trying to make these connections longer was the most entertaining part of the game.
Age Range & Weight
Age recommendation for Gobi is 10+. That is a very fair evaluation. I played with my 11-year-old daughter and she was able to pick it right up. She was not able to get much going on the scoring end. I think she lost interest in it early in the game.
Gobi is fairly light and should be a quick learn for just about anyone. I would not put it in the “gateway” game category because it is not memorable enough to make new people want to get into games.
After playing Gobi a few times there are things I like about it, but I feel like there are stronger games out there that are similar to it. Maybe if the artwork was a little more robust and drew me in, I would enjoy it more.
I am still on the fence about Gobi. I like it but I am not sure how much I will play it. That is just a personal opinion. I am sure this game will work really well for a lot of players. There are some great aspects to it. For me those aspects were overshadowed by things I wished were better.
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