I love Five Tribes! In fact, it is #2 on my Top 10 List and due to my gushing love for the game and all of its meeple goodness, this mini-expansion was #8 on my Top 10 Games I’m Interested in Trying Out at Gen Con 2016. I own the Artisans expansion and when I heard about this expansion I knew I had to have it. So on the 1st day of Gen Con, shortly after purchasing my copy of Terraforming Mars, I made my way to the Days of Wonder booth and paid my $5.00 for this 7 card mini-expansion.
From the Days of Wonder website we read: Naqala is now a prosperous place. Gaining the favors of the different Tribes was not that easy…but your rivals are not so easily discouraged. Some Tribes now abandon your cause and rally to your rivals instead; and soon it turns out that they follow influential leaders that your rivals hired against you.
Yet every man has his price, and you could return the favor to your rivals…should you have what it takes to recruit the Thieves of Naqala. Add some treachery to your games with the merciless characters of this mini-expansion! Introducing a new playstyle, with unique powers, the Thieves of Naqala can be a real thorn in your opponents’ side. Five Tribes is for 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and older and takes approximately 40-80 minutes to play. The mini-expansion, which requires the base game to play, contains 6 Thief cards and 1 new Djinn.
What is The Thieves of Naqala?
There are a total of 7 cards in this mini-expansion pack…yes you read that correctly, 7! They aren’t calling it a mini-expansion for no reason, it really is MINI! The box the cards came in can literally fit in the palm of my hand.
As you open it you will see that a majority of the space in the box is consumed by the multiple copies of the mini-rulebooks because they are written in multiple languages! The rest is made up of only one thief card for each of the six tribes to date (which includes the 6th purple colored tribe from the Artisans expansion) and one new Djinn card. The thief cards are the same size and format as the Djinn’s as they will be used right along side them in game play. I will say this, that my box for Five Tribes, which includes the Artisans expansion, is chock full to the brim and has very little space for anything else. I was concerned when the expansion was announced but after acquiring it I realized that concern was unfounded. As there are only 7 cards plus a rule book, it won’t make a difference to the storage capacity for the game. The rulebook is a tiny folded book but the rules are so few and simple that you almost don’t need to keep it.
The mini-expansion is very simple as you simply place all 6 of the thief cards in a separate deck next to the Djinn deck and reveal/refresh one every turn if their is no thief showing. You can purchase the thieves in the same way that you do Djinns, by using a combination of slaves and/or white Elder meeples. Once you have the card, it’s placed in front of you and is worth 6 points at the end if you are able to keep it. Otherwise you may discard the card back to the box to take advantage of its special power based on what colour tribe it is associated with. All of these powers involve the other players having to give up specific cards/meeples that they have worked hard to collect over the course of the game and you as the master of the thief, will be able to choose from the spoils to keep. So for example the green thief Houssain takes goods cards from the other players and you get to choose some to keep for yourself.
This can be very powerful and very devastating for your opponents. The game already had some elements of “take that” or “mean” mechanics with the Assassins being able to kill your Elder, Vizier or Artisan meeples in front of you so this additional “take that” isn’t really anything new or unexpected. My favorite new thief is Kohdjah who is from the Red Tribe of Assassins. His power allows you to force all other players to displace a camel from a tile and place one of yours on one of those newly vacated tiles. Very powerful and very devious!
Never fear though as there also exists a counter to this new chicanery with the addition of a new Djinn Morgiane who will protect you from the sticky fingers of all of the colors of thieves! She is also worth 9 points so is a good addition to the game. She will be mixed in with the other Djinn so the chances of her coming out each game are slim.
There is really not a lot that can be or needs to be written about this mini-expansion. 7 new cards with some neat new mechanics that will increase player interaction and make the game more tense and strategic. If you love Five Tribes as much as I do, you need to buy this expansion. The only word of warning I have about this mini-expansion is that Five Tribes will get a little meaner with its addition. If you don’t enjoy that aspect, then I would not recommend it as the game is still great without it. I do like that all players will have the ability to hire the thieves and utilize their effects. If you have the chance to acquire the thieves and don’t and then get burned by their abilities, don’t complain about it as you only really have yourself to blame.
Overall Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala is a solid but small mini-expansion that can swing the balance of play, but not overly significantly in my opinion. But take note, the thieves are “mean” as they are directly stealing something from you but remember they can be countered by purchasing Morgiane. I love the art on the cards, the feel of the mechanics, the price was also right and I am definitely glad I purchased it to expand an already amazing game!