We Were Playing it Wrong: The Voyages of Marco Polo

The Voyages of Marco Polo, by Daniele Tascini and Simone Luciani, Z-Man Games, art by Dennis Lohausen, 2-4 Players

It’s been a while! Last night I played a game which has become a favorite in my group, The Voyages of Marco Polo by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini, the creative duo behind another favorite, Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar. Although we love this game, there was always something a little off about the movement rules, which we found to be overly restrictive. Turns out it’s that way because we were not playing them correctly. When a player places dice on a space (contracts, movement, grand bazaar), they get to pick from a number of places equal to the lowest die placed.

For example, the player who placed the red and white die here can choose to either pay three coins and move one space, or seven coins and move two spaces.

We mistakenly played that whatever you placed was how far you had to move, without an option to select a lower value instead. Naturally this makes movement much more difficult because it removes options that would make movement less expensive. Not only that, but a player could also choose to move two spaces but end up moving one, whereas I thought a player needed to exercise all available movement. Oops. Also, and less noteworthy, but we played the Grand Bazaar the same way, meaning that players have the option to pick a lower value spot. Of course, usually the higher value places give you the best bang for your buck, but players could in theory “overpay” for spot on the grand bazaar in order to get a mix of goods and camels or coins.

Another Example: The player who played the yellow dice could pick any of the first four columns and receive the indicate amount of cloth. Although picking the fourth would result in the most goods received, in theory the player could pick the third because it comes with a camel.

I loved this game already and I’m delighted to have found the correct rules open it up a bit, as movement is always difficult in the world of Marco Polo. Then again, it being hard to get around is historically accurate.

We did one other thing wrong. When the contracts board is depleted due to players having selected all the available contracts, you’re supposed to refill the first two spots on the board. This is a small rule that we completely overlooked but it’s critical to have contracts available for purchase because they basically make the game “go”. Again, it’s lovely to find a rule that opens the game up a little bit.

We Were Playing it Wrong: The Voyages of Marco Polo