Playing with Camels
Yspahan is one of a relatively few dice games that use the dice in a unique way – not just to roll and move. The fun starts with rolling two hands full of dice and continues with all the interesting choices you get to make after that in a land filled with camel caravans and souks.
You play Yspahan over a period of three weeks (rounds) of seven days (turns) each. You roll nine white dice and place them on a “ladder” board divided into six sections. The lowest numbered dice rolled go in the lowest “rung” of the ladder. The highest go in the top section. Remaining dice are grouped by number as well and fill in the open sections from the bottom up. Thus, you’d need to roll each of the six possible numbers to place dice in every section.
Then you take dice off one of the sections on your turn. If you take them from the bottom section, you get as many camels as dice taken. Similarly, if you take them from the top, you get gold coins. Both coins and camels are mostly used as currency to construct buildings (on your player board) that give you added benefits and points.
The four middle sections of the “ladder” allow you to place cubes of your color on the main game board in one of the souks (groups of buildings) located in one of the four quadrants of Yspahan. Each souk is color coded and when filled awards you varying amounts of points from three to twelve. The easier it is to place cubes in a quadrant, the larger the souks and the lower the points for their size.
If you start filling a certain souk with your cubes, you must finish filling it before you may start another in the same quadrant. If you fail to finish filling a souk before the end of the week, you score no points for that souk. All souks are cleared out at the end of the week.
A supervisor (white pawn) can travel the roads dividing the quadrants. If he stops in front of a building containing a cube, that cube is removed (unless the owner possesses a camel) and is placed on the caravan board. There it immediately scores a few points and will also score again at the end of the week. You use the dice to move the supervisor, but this is rarely done and is normally a defensive move.
There are also rule breaker cards that you can take instead of collecting camels or dice or placing cubes in souks. These cards can also be used as an additional die when you grab some from a section of the “ladder” board.
After each of the three weeks, the filled souks, caravan board, and possibly cards are scored. The player with the most points at the end of day 21 wins.
Yspahan is fun for two (note the slightly different rules), three, or four players. If you’re looking for dice rolling that goes way beyond Monopoly or Clue, you should try Yspahan.