Author: Christwart Conrad

Publisher: Goldsieber 1998

Awards: none



At Essen 1998 Goldsieber presented a new game in their family of "Big Boardgames". Itīs "Pfeffersäcke", a game about building a trade empire in medieval Europe.

The map of the game shows the central european area, from the norther border of Germany (including the Netherlands) down to a part of Austria. Distributed on the map are smaller and bigger cities in which the players can build trading posts (Kontor), and a network of smaller and bigger roads connects many of these towns with each other. The bigger towns have different values, depending on the number of Kontors which may be placed there (in smaller towns only one Kontor can be placed), and for each of the bigger towns exists a town-marker. These markers are mixed up before the game and distributed to the players. Later, during the game, the players will be able to place the markers onto the map and allow placement of Kontors at these towns. In addition to the markers, at the beginning each player receives some money and two passage-letters. As a last action before the game starts, each player is allowed to place one of his Kontors at an unoccupied small town as a starting point.

The game itself is diveded into turns. In his turn, a player first must place a town-marker onto a fitting town, thus enabling the placement of Kontors at that town. Next, the player must decide for each of his Kontors in a bigger town whether he wants to collect income (depending on the number of spaces still free at that town) or to enlarge his Kontor by one building. Afterwards, the player gets his free basic income. As a last action, the player may expand his trading-network by one Kontor in a new town. For this, he must place a new Kontor into a free space in a bigger town (or a smaller town) which may be reached by road from any of his other Kontors. But since all the roads have values, the player must pay the printed value to the bak in order to use the road. Here the choice of roads is very important: Whereas the bigger roads allow fast expansion into far lands, the costs for these roads are extremely high. On the other hand, the use of smaller roads means that a player first has to stop at one or two samller towns, thus losing precious rounds.

The final phase of a turn is the collection of Victory Points. The player must look into each of the bigger towns where he has Kontors. If he should have succeeded in placing the absolute majority of Kontors in a town, he may take the townīs marker and hold it as Victory points.

A special role take the passage-letters. A player may use one of his passage-letters in a number of possibilities: So he may use it to enlarge one Kontor twice in a single turn, or he may receive double income, or he may open a second Kontor in a new town the same turn.

The game ends if all small towns are occupied or if all bigger towns have lost their town-markers or if - for one round - no one has built a new Kontor. Now each player counts off his Victory points for town-markers, and he gets a bonus for money left with him and for Kontors in the different coloured areas on the map. The player with most Victory Points wins the game.

As a matter of fact, at first the map with itīs network of roads looks more then a bit confusing. It actually takes some time for the players to get a full overview of the possible travel routes, but a major confusion is cleverly prevented by allowing limited possibilites of enlarging a trade-empire during a turn. The game mechanism allows smooth gameplay, and fans of tactic-games will like the game a lot. Fortunately, the game still is playable in about 90 minutes, so it can still be classified as a family-boardgame. Perhaps a last work concerning the design: Apart from the confusing map the game components are looking a bit "dull", since they are mostly coloured in different shades of brown. On the one hand this certainly serves the medieval setting of the game, but on the other it might seem a bit "spartanic".

To sum it up, the game is an interesting variant to the typical tarding games, but I think that it still isnīt as good as some older Goldsieber titles. So it goes into the row of weaker games together with Edison & Co. and Löwenherz.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]


Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany