«The Voyages of Marco Polo» review

The Voyages of Marco Polo

The Voayges of Marco Polo was published in 2015 by Hans im Glück and Zman Games. The game was designed by Simone Luciani and Daniele Taschini. Illustrations were made by Dennis Lohausen.

Game Components

  • 1 Start Player Marker (Hourglass)
  • 1 Game Board
  • 6 Small Town Bonus Tiles
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 10 Character Tiles
  • 10 Large City Office Bonus Tiles
  • 44 Contract Tiles
  • 40 Coins (20× 1, 10× 5, 10× 10)
  • 18 Objective Cards
  • 4 50/100-Point Tokens
  • 15 Silk Bundles (3 large and 12 small)
  • 15 Gold Bars (3 large and 12 small)
  • 31 Large City Cards
  • 28 Camels (7 large and 21 small)
  • 15 Peppers Sacks (3 large and 12 small)
  • 26 Dice (1 in white, 5 in black, 5 in each color: blue, yellow, green, and red)
  • 12 Player Figures (3in each color: blue, yellow, green, and red)
  • 38 Trading Posts (2 in black, 9 in each color: blue, yellow, green, and red)
  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Setup Card
  • 1 Supplement
  • 5 Overview Cards

Gameplay

In The Voyages of Marco Polo, two to four people recreate the famous Italian explorer’s journey. Each of the players has their own character with a unique special power. Every round, players roll their dice and perform actions on their turns. Actions include travelling, buying goods, acquiring resources, making money.

The Voyages of Marco Polo - Map

After five rounds, they arrive in Beijing and count victory points.

Don’t confuse The Voyages of Marco Polo with Marco Polo Expedition: it’s a different game (but it has the same title in German).

Watch a video outlining gameplay for Marco Polo on YouTube

Setup

  1. Put the game board in the centre of the table. Place the 50/100-Point tokens next to the “50” mark on the scoring track.
  2. Shuffle the 18 Objective cards and pile them in a stack.
  3. Put the money next to the game board – this is the general supply.
  4. Put Goods (Silk, Gold, and Pepper) and Camels next to the game board as well.
  5. Distribute the 6 Small Town Bonus Tiles among the 6 small towns on the game board.
  6. Shuffle the 10 Large City Office Bonus Tiles and place them on the 7 large cities on the board. Return the 3 remaining tiles to the box.
  7. Shuffle the 31 Large City Cards and place them face up on the city card fields on the board.
  8. Set aside the 6 Starting Contract Tiles (blue ones).
  9. Shuffle the rest of the Contract Tiles (red ones) and divide 30 of them into 5 equal piles (6 contracts in one pile). Distribute one pile among the 6 contract spaces on the game board. Place the remaining contracts in a special stack.
  10. Place the ten Character Tiles face up next to the game board.
  11. Some characters have additional components associated with them. You can find a description for each Character Tile in the Supplement.
  12. Put the 5 Black Dice on the game board in the black die space.
  13. The Start Player Marker goes to the player who has most recently travelled around the world.
  14. Distribute the rest of the game components around all players.
  15. Each player chooses a color, then takes a player board, 5 dice, and 9 Trading Posts of that color.
  16. Each player receives a Starting Contract, 7 coins, 2 camels, 2 player figures.
  17. Players take the following Character Tiles: Raschid ad-Din Sinan, Matteo Polo, Berke Khan and Mercator ex Tabriz. (In advanced games, players choose their own characters.)
  18. Draw 2 Objective Cards and don’t show them to other players. (In advanced games, you choose your Objective cards.)
  19. Each player takes an Overview card. Now you’re ready!

The Voyages of Marco Polo - Setup

Rules

To earn victory points, players complete contracts and visit lucrative cities. You can also complete secret objectives – they will bring you victory points at the end of the game.

Each turn, players roll their dice and place them on action areas to indicate which actions they will perform. Players take actions until they use up all of their dice.

The game goes on for 5 rounds and a final scoring.

During your turn, you’re allowed to perform at least one main action plus additional actions (optional). If you pass or you have run out of action dice, then the next player takes their turn.

The Voyages of Marco Polo - Gameplay

The game board has special spaces for the 7 main actions:

  • Take 5 Coins
  • Marketplace
  • The Favor of Khan
  • Obtain Contracts
  • Travel
  • Additional Actions
  • Large City Card Actions

5 Additional Actions:

  • Complete 1 contract
  • Take 3 coins
  • Re-roll 1 die
  • Adjust 1 die value +1/-1
  • Take 1 black die

Final Scoring

Players receive victory points for completing their objectives, coins, having Trading Posts in Beijing, goods (if they have a Trading Post in Beijing), completing the most contracts.

The player who has the most victory points wins.

The Voyages of Marco Polo - Board Game

Some rules are different if there are 2 or 3 players.

To read the rules explained in detail, download the full rulebook in English here.

Similar Games

The Voyages of Marco Polo vs Orléans

Orleans

In Orléans, your goal is to gather the largest following and become the most powerful person in the Medieval French city. If you like character games and you aren’t afraid of a little imbalanced feel that characters often bring into the game, you will probably prefer the Voyages of Marco Polo – characters are one of the strong points of this game. In Orléans, players are more equal.

The Voyages of Marco Polo vs Navegador

Navegador

Navegador is a game about Portuguese discoverers. The theme is played out well, and player interaction is good in the game. It plays really well with 5 people (you can’t have more than 4 in The Voyages of Marco Polo) but is a bit less exciting with 2 or 3 players.

Buy Navegador on Amazon

The Voyages of Marco Polo vs Keyflower


Keyflower board game

Keyflower is an economic meeple-bidding game for two to six, a favourite of many gamers. It has many expansions, which makes it especially flexible and popular.

Marco Polo: The New Characters Expansion

Marco Polo: The New Characters Expansion

This mini-expansion was commissioned after The Voyages of Marco Polo won the Deutsche Spielepreis as a thank-you to fans. It contains 4 new characters, 4 new contracts, 15 gift markers, and 1 small town bonus tile.

FAQ

Q: Is there an errata for The Voyages of Marco Polo?

A: Yes, you can find the FAQ and Errata in English here:

Q: Is there a digital version of The Voyages of Marco Polo for iOS and Android?

A: No, currently there isn’t.

Q: How can I use all 9 Trading Posts if there are only 5 rounds in the game?

A: Some characters are allowed to operate more than one Trading Post during one round. Plus, you can earn movement besides the main movement action.

Q: When does the white die enter the play?

A: One of the characters (Matteo Polo) has the ability that allows him to roll the white die. You can’t get any other way.

YouTube

Here’s another one with a detailed playthrough for 3

Conclusion

The Voyages of Marco Polo is a good worker-placement game. Its rulebook starts with saying, “The rules of this game are extremely complicated”, but in fact, you just need to read them through carefully – there’s nothing too complicated about the rules.

The element of luck is present in the game – you roll the dice every turn. But if you have camels and money, they will allow you to reroll or adjust the number on your dice.

The Voyages of Marco Polo - Dice

The game cleverly uses its trading-voyage theme to its benefit. All illustrations and components look nice and function great.

You can buy The Voyages of Marco Polo on Amazon.