...through the desert on a horse with no name.

...it felt good to be out of the rain.
by Andreas Steiger
published by Z-Man Games

Targi is a smart 2-player card-based strategy game, where you find yourself in the desert, amongst the Tuareg people.  Throughout the game, you’re collecting three types of goods (dates, salt, and pepper) along with gold pieces to acquire the “loyalty” of tribes.  All of this transpires via an elegant game mechanic where players take turns putting their three meeples on cards along the outer border of the game,  planning their intersection carefully to get the goods or tribe cards of their choice in the center grid of the board.  Tribe cards not only can give you an advantage through further rounds, but they also provide victory points, helping you to win the game.

Targi in full!

How we came to play this game:  
Susan: We saw this in a Barnes and Noble in Rhode Island last year and decided to try it since we seem always to be looking for good 2-player games. 

Mike: As I remember it, this title was on a list of recommended 2-player games we'd been consulting. It was on our wish list, and we were surprised to find it in Barnes & Noble. They have stepped up their "board game" game, so to speak! 

This reminds us of:
Susan: To me, this game is pretty unique, so it’s hard to come up with something that it seems terribly similar to.

Mike: Uh... the x-axis/y-axis mechanic kinda recalls Battleship?? 
(That's all I got. Sorry!)

Susan:  Oh, the “set” collection bit of the tribes is a little similar to “Garden Dice” - how about that?

Mike: Yeah! Not bad!

So NOT like this then!

Game art:
Susan: I really like the art of this game.  My only complaint is that although the font on the cards is attractive, it is a little difficult to read. I do especially like that the border cards were designed to be 2-sided, one with minimal iconography and clear explanations of their actions and the other with just the pretty illustrations, for when you become familiar enough with the game that you know how each of them works. Someday we’ll get there, Mike. Someday.

Mike: Bland. I suppose with the backstory taking place in the desert; you're at a disadvantage out of the gate, but I feel like the overall "beige-ness" makes the look and feel essentially unappealing. Missed opportunity here, it could have been so much more.

...in the desert, you can't remember your name.
Best part:
Susan: I like that the game feels quite well balanced with almost equal parts strategy and “luck of the draw” as to what cards come up.  It makes it possible to try to plan ahead, while still providing new opportunities to score points as the game progresses.  The designers also did an excellent job of curtailing the propensity to “hoard” throughout this game. You’re not allowed to have too many goods but can make a move to exchange them for gold. You’re also not allowed to keep more than one tribe card in reserve at a time, which makes it necessary to forge a plan and try to stick to it. 

Mike: The play design of Targi hits all the right notes strategically.  All too often I find games that claim to be "strategy" games are too light on strategy. That is not the case here. Perhaps frustratingly to Susan, I am prone to analysis paralysis as a matter of course.  I can easily fall into that mindset in this game, but man, I DO love that feeling! Being sensible about how you begin your campaign is essential to how this title plays out and trying to figure out the best path to success is damned satisfying. 

Susan: Yeah, Mike takes freaking forever on his turns sometimes with this one.  Zzzzzzzz.
Back off lady!!

Worst part:
Susan: The game needs just a few more tokens of each of the goods, because it’s not uncommon to run out of one of them at one point, which leaves you scrambling to find pennies - or tiny pieces of paper towel - for temporary substitutes.  

Mike: I hate to continue to harp on this, but the art of Targi feels like a field goal attempt that falls 10 yards short of the end zone! While I appreciate and relish all of the care that went into the play design, it's just damned disappointing that the art could not follow suit! I could hope for a redesign, but the game has been wildly successful, so I'm probably just unnecessarily gasbagging! (which I am ALSO prone to!)

Susan:  No, Mike, not you!  :-)
...cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.

Mistakes we made:
Susan: When we pulled this out after not playing in a few months, we slipped up on the fact that you’re only allowed to have 10 total goods at the end of your turn. We also had a total (collective) brain fart when the center cards were suddenly almost all tribes and reset them. We hadn’t done anything wrong, after all, but we thought we had and tried to correct it.

Mike: Hysterically, as Susan points out, we corrected something that didn't need to be corrected when we played over the Memorial Day weekend. We are so skittish because of our awful track record that we have now taken to messing up the things we do right!

Play again?
Susan: This is one of my favorite 2-player games.  It’s relatively quick (not to mention somewhat defined in that the game has 16 clear rounds).

Mike: Absolutely will be playing again, but I wouldn't characterize the game as "quick"! It's 45 mins to an hour to play even WITHOUT my crippling analysis paralysis but I think it’s relatively unburdensome. I'd say it PLAYS quickly, but it's not a quick game.

Susan: Well, it could be a quick game if you wouldn’t think so much.

Mike: No. No it wouldn’t!

Trust me!

Pepper, salt and dates
Give me my fourth “camp” tribe card
Four victory points

Times played:  
around 4 or 5 times

Game record - 
Mike: I think I'm comfortable giving the edge in the record to Susan. I think I may have won once!

Click play on the vid below to learn how to play! It's fun, so buy it, though it seems to be in short supply right now!