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Isfahan Expansion for Samarkand

Publisher: Rio Grande
Reviewed by Debbie Pickett
Reproduced here with kind permission from Funagain Games.

A little more spice for Samarkand

Isfahan is a small, free expansion for the Arabian commerce game Samarkand. Its major effect is to allow the demand for the game's commodities to travel around the board rather than be fixed at one city.

Isfahan consists of two small credit-card-sized cards, one showing the rules, and one which you cut up into eight tokens. The tokens are intended to replace the fixed commodity markers on the original Samarkand board. Six of the tokens represent the six commodities to be sold, from grain to gems. The seventh is the familiar arch symbol, at which you can sell one of each kind of commodity. The eighth token sports a large X, and represents an empty market (so that only the alternate market is available to sell to at this city).

The tokens are placed randomly on the board, two to a city, and the game proceeds as normal. Whenever a sale is made, the commodity sold is swapped with the X token, usually in a different city. The 'depressed market' chips are not used in Isfahan. The rest of the rules are unchanged.

The net result is that the markets at which you can sell your goods migrate around the board as sales are made. This can be used against a player (forcing him or her to move on to sell the goods), and can occasionally have a serendipitous effect (if you are hovering around the X and the player before you trades in the commodity you are trying to sell, the market is now much closer to you).

Needless to say, moving markets add a little chaos to the game, which in my opinion improves it. Isfahan is now the preferred variant in my house. If I have any complaint about Isfahan, it is that the little tokens are very light and can be blown off their places by the tiniest breeze; but for free, this expansion is just the right price. If you have Samarkand, Isfahan is well worth trying. If you are buying Samarkand, be sure to include Isfahan in your order.

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