My wife and I have tried a number of 2-player-only games over the years. Only a handful (or less) of them have kept our interest for any length of time.
Targi is one of them.
It may look like a card game, but that’s only because about half of the components are cards. Those components could have been cardboard squares or whatever. Cards make the most sense, but I don’t consider this a card game in the traditional sense.
How To Play Targi
The main “board” in Targi consists of a 16-card border that remains the same each game. Twelve of those cards – the 3 along each side – are action spaces and goods spaces. The 4 corner cards are “Raid” spaces.
Those same cards also serve as a timer for the game. In the picture above, you can see a gray dude on the center card in the leftmost column. He’s on the 14th space as you go clockwise around the border, starting from the second card from the left in the top row (where there’s currently a white dude).
The gray dude started the game at the top, where the white one is sitting now. Each round, he moves one card around the border. When he gets to the 16th card, the game will end.
But that’s not the only way the game can end. (More on this later.)
If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see 5 white pieces and 5 light blue pieces sitting on the cards. Each set of 3 dudes and 2 cylinders belongs to one of the players.
On your turn, you place one of your dudes on a border card, other than where the gray dude is sitting. Then your opponent does the same with a dude of his color.
Then it’s back to you to place your second dude. If you had placed your first one on a card in the top or bottom row, you most likely would set you second one on a card in the far left or right column.
The reason to do that is so that you can then place one of your cylinders at the intersection of the row and the column where your placed your dudes.
Look back at the picture. You can see that’s what the players have done after putting all 3 dudes on border cards. Their 2 cylinders are each at the appropriate intersections.
After all the bits are in position, the player who started the round takes the actions or collects the goods shown on each of the 5 cards in play.
Goods come in the form of dates (the food), salt, pepper, gold coins, or victory point tokens. In the picture just above, you can see that this player has collected several date, salt, pepper, and points tokens.
Again, the cards around the border never change, but you can collect goods from them and you do take the actions that they describe. On the other hand, the 9 cards in the center do change. If you collect a good from one of them, you remove that card and replace it with an action card from the supply deck.
If one of your cylinders is on a tribal card, you take that card and replace it with a goods card from its supply deck. If you can pay the cost of the tribal card (shown at the top right), you can place it in your personal tableau.
Your tableau consists of, at most, 3 rows of cards with, at most, 4 cards in each row. You play your cards from the left. If you can manage (as shown above) to play 4 of the same tribe cards in a row, you will score 8 points for that row at the end of the game.
The top row in the tableau shown has 4 purple Targi in it. The middle row has 4 different tribal cards. You get points for that arrangement too, but not as many. Notice that each tribal card also shows victory point tokens at the lower right. These count in your final score too. Also, the text on some of these cards may get you more points.
The game can also end (and often does) when one player plays the 12th card in his tableau. That’s what happened in the game shown in the pictures above. Unfortunately, the one player only managed to play 9 cards by the time the other player completed his grid of 12.
If a tribal card you pick up costs more than the goods in your supply, you can hold that card in your hand until you can afford it. But you can only hold one card and you can only play it to your tableau if you place one of your dudes on the first action card on the border on the playing area.
Other border action cards let you trade goods for other goods or for points, pick up another goods card or tribal card from the supply decks, or move one of your cylinders to a new center spot.
After the gray dude has moved past each of the 3 cards on a side, it lands on a Raid card. At that point, each player must give up either some goods or some victory points. Then the gray dude moves on to the next card around the corner.
After each round, you’re supposed to pass the start player token (above) to the other player. We usually use this piece more like an arrow and point it at the person who goes first in the round.
When one of the two end game triggers is triggered, you count up your points, and the player with the most wins.
What Makes Targi So Much Fun
The description of playing Targi that I just gave you is a bit simplistic. That’s because there are cards that are rule-breakers and because the placing of your 3 dudes is more thought-provoking that you might think at first.
In fact, it’s the dude placement that usually takes the most time in this game. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Fun, fun, fun.
The mechanics in Targi are very simple, but placing the dudes, deciding which center cards to target, and where to place them in your tableau keep you engaged throughout.