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Kontor

Publisher: Goldsieber
Players: 2
Reproduced here with kind permission from Funagain Games.

Beware the Ship of Doom

Kontor is a relatively benign tile/card-laying game with the theme of building the port of Amsterdam. While it is not an outstanding game, it is one of the better games of its genre.

The port is set up with a number of water cards, and from then on both players (it is basically a two-player game) each play a card secretly and flip them face-up simultaneously. A number on each card determines who goes first. In turn, each player then plays their card somewhere onto the grid made by the cards already on the table.

Cards are either water cards or dock cards. The dock cards feature one, two or three warehouses - for tea, wine and spices. In a connected region of cards, the winning player is the one with the most warehouses (the rules are really a little more complicated than that, and there's a rock-paper-scissors tie-breaking mechanism in there too). This region earns a victory point for the winning player. The game continues until the grid is full and the ultimate winner is the player with the most victory points.

A few other touches make the game a little more interesting: money is earned by playing a water card (income from the City of Amsterdam for extending their canal system), and paid as taxation when your opponent's played card features a picture of a coin. If you run out of money you miss a turn, so you need to watch this carefully. The other big thing is the ship. This is only played in the game proper, not the introductory version presented first in the rulebook. By playing a card with a ship symbol on it, you can move the wooden model ship to any water square and remove a dock card that also features a ship symbol. This makes the game a great deal more strategic and it should be how Kontor is played.

The game can theoretically be played with nothing more than the cards; the little warehouse pieces and victory point markers are only there to make the counting easier.

Kontor has a little of the feel of El Caballero, but without most of the complexity. It is a thought-provoking but simple filler game that is guaranteed to never end in a draw.

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