Trade on the Tigris wants to redeem one of gaming’s most overused themes

13 April 2018
pic4079461-07687.jpg Trade on the Tigris
Game partially inspired by Tom Vasel’s distaste for genre

After more than six years in development, a game created to breathe fresh life back into one of the tabletop’s stalest settings finally has a release date.

Trade on the Tigris began life way back in 2012 as ‘Trading on the Mediterranean’ – the title a deliberate nod to popular video personality and Dice Tower co-host Tom Vasel, who notoriously called the genre one of the tabletop’s most overused and pasted-on clichés.

The game’s inspirations and creation process were discussed by designers Geoff Engelstein and Ryan Sturm on the Ludology podcast, where they expressed a desire to take the game beyond being an in-joke to revitalising the theme.

“I think the goal in a more serious broader context is to create a trading in the Mediterranean game that for gamers will truly feel like they are trading in the Mediterranean and not just churning cubes,” Sturm clarified in a BoardGameGeek post. “I want the theme to matter and feel a part of the game more so than specifically catering the game to Tom personally, though I do hope that he enjoys the game as well.”

Sturm eventually left the Ludology podcast, but remained a designer on the project as its development continued over more than half a decade.

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The finished game consists of a 60 to 90-minute card-driven trading game, with players taking on the role of cities along the titular river.

Three to six players gain development cards offering new abilities, produce resources and then trade with their opponents, in a system reminiscent of classic strategy game Civilization.

What makes Trade on the Tigris a little different is that trading cards also results in the sharing of ideas, with a player’s city potentially affected by the influence of outside religions and philosophies, changing the way in which it can advance its abilities. At the end of five rounds, the most points wins.

The game has been picked up by Tiny Minstrel Games and is due for release before the end of 2018, so we’ll be able to see if it manages to break the mould – or just becomes another part of the problem – soon.


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