Marco Polo Expedition
by Reiner Knizia
I recently played this at the GatheringOfFriends2004. I rather liked this game, which put me in the minority. I'm not really sure why it was not more well received. The game is a simple race game in which one has to play certain sets of cards to advance to the next space. Cards are replensished through a simple draft. The twist is you automatically skip over spaces currently occupied by your opponents, leading to a nice tension in which noone wants to be ahead in order to prevent one's opponents from exploiting your effort, but everyone wants to be ahead because naturally that's the goal of the game. The gameplay is quick (under an hour) but I suppose it could be hurt by inappropriate over-analysis. In general, consecutive sets of spacement are at odds with one another from a card collection point of view (eg, "3 of one color", "3 of one symbol", "5 different colors") so one can intentionally avoid collecting cards for one goal, assuming your opponents will occupy that space before you. This game of "chicken" works well and an additional mechanic by which you can give up a victory point to more easily catch up seems to work well.
Certainly, this is no Ra or Euphrat & Tigris, but it's a pleasant race game and I think many are not giving it credit for some real strategic depth that is present. Overall, it's not the most innovative game out there, but the mechanics come together nicely, resulting in a well crafted and compelling experience. Recommended, though given some people's experience this is probably worth trying before buying.
Polo info at boardgamegeek|http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/9139