At a Glance: Through the Desert is a deeply strategic game of rival camel caravans snaking around much-contended oases.
Through the Desert is a strategic game for 2-5 players where the goal is to connect camels into caravan lines to claim oases, water holes and territory. Players gain points from water holes and oases as they go, but there is a high potential of points if they are able to cut off a large area of the desert and block it from other nomads. Camels are separated into 5 pastel colors and each player has a lead rider in each color. On each turn, players choose 2 camels to place, either of the same color or 2 different colors. They may only have 1 caravan of each color, so the camels they choose must connect to their respective caravan lines. If a player’s caravan touches an oasis, you get 5 points. Each water hole that you claim is anywhere from 1-3 points. If you are able to enclose a piece of desert territory, then you score a point for each space in that area. One placement rule to keep in mind is that players may not place a camel adjacent to another player’s caravan of the same color. The game ends when one of the camel colors have been exhausted. The player with the most cumulative points at the end is the winner.
Yes, reaching oases and getting water holes are important, but the big points come when you can manage to block off large sections of the map by using the outside edge or the small mountain range in the middle. This is very visible, so it gets very competitive trying to keep tabs on other caravans and preventing them from doing so. At its heart, this game is all about area control. It’s not a relaxing feel, it really stretches the brain as you try to push your strategies, but stay very mindful of what your opponents are going for.
The components are fairly good. I gotta say, the camels look just like candy…like some sort of little pastel white chocolate pieces. This game comes from the mind of the most prolific game designer of all time, Reiner Knizia, and was published back in 1998. There are a few editions out there, including a fairly new reprint that looks a little better and has a double-sided board with a river on one side. No matter what you go with, you get a solid game with strategic depth.
Check it out: https://amzn.to/2De1eD6