Silk Roads Stakes

Heidi Beezley -
Martin Jimenez -
Juliana Liebke -

» Instructional Objectives
» Learners & Context
» Competing Products
» Object of the Game
» Content Analysis
» Game Materials
» Time Required
» The Rules
» Motivational Issues
» Design Process
» Refrences

Instructional Objectives

Learners will encounter the profits and perils of travel and trade along the Silk Road during the Middle Ages (~AD 500-1400) in order to experience the geographic, cultural, political, economic, and religious aspects of these lands. By the end of the game, students should be able to describe the purpose of the Silk Roads and describe some of the dangers and benefits to traders as they traveled the roads from one region to another.

This game is ideally designed to extend the learning of the 7th grade World History-Social Science and 10th grade AP World History-Social Science standards for California to include specifically:
  1. Standard 7.2.5: Describe the growth of cities and the establishment of trade routes among Asia, Africa, and Europe, the products and inventions that traveled along these routes
  2. Standard 7.3.4: Understand the importance of both overland trade and maritime expeditions between China and other civilizations in the Mongol Ascendancy and Ming Dynasty.
  3. Standard 7.3.5: Trace the historic influence of such discoveries as tea, the manufacture of paper, woodblock printing, the compass, and gunpowder.
  4. Standard 7.4.1: Study the Niger River and the relationship of vegetation zones of forest, savannah, and desert to trade in gold, salt, food, and slaves; and the growth of the Ghana and Mali empires.
  5. Standard 7.4.3: Describe the role of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the changing religious and cultural characteristics of West Africa and the influence of Islamic beliefs, ethics, and law.
  6. Standard 7.4.4: Trace the growth of the Arabic language in government, trade, and Islamic scholarship in West Africa.
  7. Standard 7.6.6: Discuss the causes and course of the religious Crusades and their effects on the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish populations in Europe, with emphasis on the increasing contact by Europeans with cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean world.
  8. Standard 7.6.7: Map the spread of the bubonic plague from Central Asia to China, the Middle East, and Europe and describe its impact on global population.
  9. Standard 7.8.2: Explain the importance of Florence in the early stages of the Renaissance and the growth of independent trading cities (e.g., Venice), with emphasis on the cities' importance in the spread of Renaissance ideas.
  10. Standard 7.8.3: Understand the effects of the reopening of the ancient "Silk Road" between Europe and China, including Marco Polo's travels and the location of his routes.

Sweetwater Union High School District: AP World History Course Description
  1. Standard 10.1.4: Review and compare the effects of Buddhism, Christianity Hinduism, Islam and Judaism on the cultural, intellectual and societal development in post-classical societies, focusing on trade development, the impact of technology, and the internal and external relationships of change over time and continuity during the period.
  2. Standard 10.2.1: Summarize China’s ethical philosophy and critique its influence on China’s internal and external expansion; the political, social and economic impact on global trading partners; and the demographic and environmental changes these had locally and internationally.
  3. Standard 10.2.2: Analyze the development and changes in interregional networks of trade, cultural exchange and technology among the Indian Ocean traders and Europeans.

Learners & Context of Use

The game would ideally be used in a World History class room from grades seven through 12. It specifically addresses the content standards for 7th grade World History and 10th grade AP World History but it can be played and enjoyed by all people 11 and older. The game would be used at school and can be played with up to seven players. A typical classroom may require five game boards. The teacher sets up five tables/desks together and places the board in the middle. Each student sits around the board by their region. The game could be played prior to any study of the Silk Roads as an engage activity, or it could be played after students have had a chance to study the geography and have some general background knowledge regarding trade along the Silk roads as a way to provide a memorable context for the content of study.

A terrific time for both 7th and 10th graders to play this game would be before or after learning about one of the standards the game address either as an engaging introduction to the unit or as a fun way to extend and reinforce the learning from the unit. Ideally, students would gain a deeper understanding of the cards and tasks in the game as their knowledge increases from each unit of study. If played at the end of a unit, students will have just completed a unit test review before the game. The day of the game, students will study for their test, and the next day students would take their unit test.

Competing Products

Caravans of Ahldarahd is a board game that allows players to set up their own trade routes and monopolies. In this game, all players get a board and all players are from the deserts of Arabia vying to build the greatest merchant clan and empire. It is similar to our game because the rules of trade are addressed: forming alliances, obtaining gold, goods, supplies, protection. It is different from ours because we playing the role of a city trying to obtain a variety of goods through our merchants and in Caravans of Ahldarahd, players are merchants trying to build their empire. I think their game is better for complexity and giving a more realistic decision-making process for merchants. I think our game is better for players to visualize the geography of Europe, Africa, and Asia and understanding the interconnectedness of so many cultures. Our game is more useful for a variety of units of instruction, while Caravans of Ahldarahd is ideal for understanding the complexity of the merchant class in Arabia specifically.
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external image pic82245_md.jpg

Silkroad Online Game - This game allows adventures to take on the role of a traveler along the Silk Road in a virtual environment. One of the system requirements for play is a Windows operating system. While the online game would help students to form a visual image of the world at the time the Silkroads were in use, the game is not meant to be educational. In fact, based on the preview below, the focus is on combat.

Made for Trade - This game is similar to Silk Road Stakes in that the educational purpose of the game is for students to visualize a particular era and the important role that trade and barter played in the dealings of the community. Made For Trade is a board game where players take on the role of colonists in early America. There are various ways to play the game, but one of the variations requires players to be the first to acquire four goods and four shillings.

Object of the Game

Our initial goal for this game is to have students complete their travels of the Silk Roads in search of seven required trade items. Each player would start with 7 items unique to the region of their starting point (i.e. Rome, Byzantium, Arabia, Persia, India, China, and East Africa). The object is to acquire (via trade) at least 1 of each of the trading items from the other 6 regions. Trade can occur only at trade hubs where there are markets. The first player (or team) to acquire all 7 trade items and return to their city of origin wins. The following is the list of trade items.
  1. Olive Oil from Rome
  2. Glassware from Byzantium
  3. Textiles from Persia
  4. Silk from China
  5. Ivory from Africa
  6. Spices from India
  7. Dates from Arabia

Content Analysis

Our content analysis can be found at this link.

Game Materials

The materials that would be in the box.

Final Gameboard Design

Game Board

The game board is a map that shows The Roman Empire, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. There is no single path along the game board, but there are paths that mimic the trade routes along the silk roads. Players can move in any direction that follows a trade route on each turn. Each route connects important trade hubs where merchants can exchange goods. There are several short cuts along the routes via water or across mountain ranges (assuming you can find a guide).

Although each trader character will travel around the board with trade items from their region, seven additional trade pegs from the region are to be placed in the center of the trade hub so that visiting traders can make a trade in that region.
Download Final Gameboard

Destiny Cards

There are three types of destiny cards, one for each region of the board. They are to be placed face down on the board at the start of play in the appropriate region. European Destiny cards describe events that occur to players as they travel through the European section of the board, while Asian Destiny and Middle Eastern Destiny cards do the same for their region. The events may be positive such as making a good trade, earning gold pieces, hiring a guide that can lead you to a shortcut, acquiring a spy or thief who may help you steal merchandise, earning immunity from various diseases, or buying a boat that can provide passage along the sea (another shortcut). Cards can also provide negative destinies such as lost or stolen gold or trade goods, disease that slows down your journey, and other setbacks.

A final version of the game would need at least 40 cards for each region to provide a variety of experiences. If players were to go through all 40 cards in a particular region before the game is through, the cards could be shuffled and reused.
Download Back Side of Asian Destiny Cards
BackMiddleEastern.jpgDownlad Back Side of Middle Eastern Destiny Cards === ===
Downlad Back Side of European Destiny Cards

Download Front Side of Asian Destiny Cards

Download Front Side of Middle Eastern Destiny Cards
Download Front Side of European Destiny Cards

Player Cards

Each player will begin the game with one water travel card and one military guard card that could be used at the player's discretion at appropriate points in the game. For example, if the player is at a hub with a maritime shortcut to another trade hub, the player may use their water card to travel. Once a water card is used, it must be discarded. The military card can be kept for use in battle until the player's military is defeated. Once a player's military is defeated, the card must be discarded. A sample set of cards is displayed below.
Persian Military Guard - Back

Persian Water Travel - Back

Persian Military Guard - Front

Persian Water Travel - Front

Download front side of player cards
Download back side of player cards

Gold Tokens

Each player will begin the game with one gold token. Players can earn gold pieces at various points in the game that can provide them opportunities. The gold tokens are miniature poker chips the color of gold. When players have a sufficient amount of gold, they may be able to avoid one of the negative setbacks that are described in Destiny Cards. For example, if their caravan is struck by disease, the player may be able to pay enough gold to acquire the services of a doctor and therefore avoid the setbacks that the card describes (such as losing a turn) that would have slowed down the player's progress.

Player Pieces

Each player will represent a trade caravan from a particular region of the board. Their piece will be an individual dressed in the garb of that region at the helm of a representative form of transportation that reflects the style of transport a trader from that region may have traveled in. Each player piece begins the game with 7 pegs from its region. The trade pegs may be shaped like bags with a peg end that juts out at a 90º angle and will attach to the transport portion of the character. For the purpose of play-testing the boardgame, cards have been created for each region's trader that will be mounted so that they stand upright on the board. Ideally, however, the player pieces would be three-dimensional and include the mode of transport to which the trade pegs would attach.
Front of Arabian Trader Piece
Front of Chinese Trader Piece
Front of Indian Trader Piece
Back of Arabian Trader Piece
Back of Chinese Trader Piece
Back of Indian Player Piece

Download the Player Pieces

Trade Pegs

external image gcrbPgCrystWE.jpgEach trade peg will be a different color and represents the trade goods from a particular region. There will be seven different types of trade goods, and therefore there will be seven different colors of pegs.
  • Red = silk - China

  • Orange = dates - Arabia

  • Green = olive oil- Rome

  • Blue= glass - Constantinople

  • Purple = Textiles - Persia

  • Brown = spices - India

  • White = ivory - E. Africa

Six-sided Die

external image ux_a06090200ux1004_ux_n.jpgA single six-sided die is included in the game for determining how many spaces a player may move on a given turn. The die would have an aged appearance and perhaps be made out of wood.

Draw Straws

Seven straws draw straws would be included in the game set in order to determine order of play. One straw would be longer with the other six being of equal length. At the start of play, players would draw straws. The player drawing the long straw would go first and play would continue clockwise from there.

Discard container

The discard container would have four slots for discarding cards and one coin holder for keeping the extra gold pieces. Three of the card slots would be for discarding the destiny cards with the fourth slot for discarded player cards.

Time Required

Given the maximum number of players/teams, the game would take three to five minutes to set up and could run an entire 1-hour class period. Additional time may be required for games played with multi-player teams.

Silk Roads Stakes Rules

Silk Roads Stakes is designed to be played with between 2 or 7 players or teams of players.
  1. Set up game board and pieces - Each player starts with the following items: 1 Military Guard Card, 1 Water Travel Card, 1 gold coin, and 7 trade pegs from their region. The trade pegs should be placed in their game piece and travel with them around the board. Each player's piece will begin in any space within their region's trade hub. Seven trade pegs from each region should also be placed in the center of each region's hub in the holes provided. The Destiny Cards from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East should be shuffled and placed face down in the appropriate region.
  2. Determining order of play - Begin by drawing straws---longest straw rolls first. Game order continues clockwise from that point.
  3. Player Movement - Each turn a player rolls the dice and advances the number of spaces in any single direction. If a player rolls more than the number of spaces they need to reach a given location, the player may stop at the desired location and forgo the additional spaces. If a player is near a water route, and rolls one more than the number needed to reach the route, the player may travel on the water route on that turn as long as he or she holds a water travel card.
  4. Destiny Cards - When a player lands on space with a question mark, he/she should select a card from the Destiny Card stack for that region and follow the directions.
  5. Trade Hubs - When a player reaches a trade hub, he/she may make a trade by leaving one of his/her trade pegs and picking up a new trade peg at the hub. The new trade peg a player receives can either be the trade peg that is native to the region or a trade peg that has been left there by a player from another region. On the next turn, players have the choice to move on or stay in the hub. If a player stays in the hub, then his/her turn requires drawing a chance card. If the player decides to go to a different hub, then he/she rolls the dice and moves in any directions out of the hub.
  6. Battle - If players land on the same spot on the board outside a hub, then they battle. If both players have a military card, then they roll the dice and the highest roll wins a gold piece or a good of their choice from the other player. The losing player loses their military card because their military defense has been crushed in battle. If one of the players does not have a military card, then that player loses automatically and must give up a gold or trade peg.
  7. Loss of Trade Pegs - When a player loses a trade peg, they must automatically be sent back to he/she trade hub to receive a replacement unless he/she can purchase a replacement trade peg for six gold pieces on that turn.
  8. The East African Gold Mines - Players have the option of traveling to the gold mines of east Africa. If they reach the gold mine, they may roll the die to see how much gold they are able to acquire. The role determines the number of gold pieces they receive.
  9. Winning the Game - The object of the game is to get back home with one of each of the 7 different colored pegs. The winner is the first to get to their homeland with all seven trade goods.

Motivational Issues

Silk Roads Stakes engages the learner by evoking a sense of challenge, control, competition and cooperation among learners (from Malone and Lepper Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning). Perhaps the greatest challenge involved in winning the game is that players are not just racing around the game board to complete the journey along the Silk Roads. Much like the Silk Road merchants of the Middle Ages, players will need to take into account several strategic decisions as they work to acquire all the required resources to win the game. They must consider navigation of the map, the inherent hazards involved with travel along the various regions of the Silk Roads, as well as the strategic decisions made by their adversaries.

The game offers a challenging environment by providing the explicit goal of acquiring the seven required trade goods while maintaining the uncertain outcome of how that goal is to be achieved. Players have control over how they will navigate the board and trade amongst other players for the resources they need. Although a roll of the die controls the number of spaces that players can move in a given turn, it is ultimately the player's choice as to which direction they will move their game piece. Interpersonal motivations are also addressed in this game since players must also take into account the progress of their competition in deciding whom to trade with and whom to attack during their journey. This points to a unique aspect of the game in that it provides ample opportunity for both cooperation and competition during game play.

Considerations were made during the initial design process regarding Keller and Suzuki's ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction) model. The designers hope that the potential for competition and cooperation during the game will gain the learners attention. The primary purpose of the game is to provide enrichment and remediation, which lends itself to the relevance portion of the ARCS model. If if players realize that by playing the game they will be using skills and knowledge that will be addressed during assessments, they may be more motivated to perform well during game play. The games primary goal is tied to the confidence element of the ARCS model. Players will need to be familiar with the variety of Silk Roads trade goods. Knowledge of what these goods are and which regions possessed them is required to have a reasonable chance to win the game. Players who win (or at the very least perform well) will have confidence in the mastery of game content. Winning the game in itself may not provide a high level of satisfaction in all students especially if the game's subject matter isn't interesting to them. Teachers may consider creating a Silk Roads Stakes "Hall of Fame" award, extra credit points (for the top three finishers), or some other reward to try to maximize the satisfaction element of the ARCS model.

Silk Road Stakes takes into account Csikszentmihalyi's concept of "flow" in a learning experience. Since the game is intended as a pre-test enrichment activity students should not have high levels of anxiety upon entering game play. However, the elements of competition and a race to complete the main objective in the game are intended to provide a sense of urgency. It is the designers' hope that game will find the elusive flow channel as described by Csikszentmihalyi. Ideally, players will become engaged with the game objectives and forget that they are in class and learning about trade along the Silk Roads.

Design Process

Initial Development

Marty began the process by posting his interest in designing a game that addresses his 10th grade AP world history class content about the Silk Roads. Juliana, unknowingly shared her idea out of context during a class meeting, which was very similar to Marty's. Marty and Juliana began chatting about collaborating during class and teamed up. Juliana, who knows Heidi through their mutual employment, sought Heidi for the project knowing that Heidi has superior design skills, and since history is not her content are, there would not be a conflict in planning due to too many "chefs." The three are locally based and agreed to meet one evening to brainstorm in person.

For our game, we considered but rejected having one central hub where each region would travel to make a trade. We rejected this idea for several reasons:
  1. We agreed that we wanted our students to be able to visualize the geography of this region and felt that a game design with one central hub would defeat this purpose.
  2. We recognized that in actuality, there would have been multiple "hubs" along and extending out from the Silk Roads.
  3. We wanted this game to work for any grade level and unit. If there was one central "hub" then it would be more useful to play only once in a school year.
  4. We did not want this to be just a "race" game, we also wanted shortcuts and decision-making to play a role in winning.
  5. We wanted additional factors to play a part in this educational board game such as: disease, bandits/attacks, weather/environmental conditions, food/water attainment, and religious/cultural aspects of each region.

We also considered using camel-like game pieces that could keep acquiring additional camels, creating a "caravan." We rejected this idea, however, when we realized how difficult it would be to move such a piece into a hub and around the board.

The brainstorming discussed above led to the idea of Destiny Cards. We made a sketch of the board game based on images from Marty's book and Juliana's computer. Heidi then took our sketch home and designed our game board. Marty agreed to write Asia Destiny cards, Juliana agreed to write Middle East Destiny cards, and Marty and Juliana split the writing of Europe Destiny cards while Heidi designed the look of the game board and cards and set up an incredible Google Site where we could continue our exchange of ideas and additions at our leisure, i.e. collaborate online. If we wanted immediate feedback on an idea, we would keep an email chain going. After we reached a certain point, we got to work on our Game Board Analysis. The three of us took different roles. Heidi was mostly the instigator and then when her lack of content knowledge stopped her progress, Marty and Juliana finished the job through collaboration on Skype. This collaboration made it necessary for the design of our game to be tweaked. Once we started to discuss the rules of the game, we realized some changes were necessary to close up gaps in the game.

We realized we needed to add a gold/salt mine in Africa and connect Rome and Africa via a sea route. We did this for two reasons: 1. We needed Rome to have a fair chance of winning the game. 2. We needed a way to get gold into the mix. 3. We wanted our game board to be full circle to keep things flowing smoothly.

Background information for Silk Roads Stakes was gathered through a combination of using the 10th and 7th grade World History texts and information gathered off the internet. We realized how important performing this game board analysis is before designing a game because there are so many factors to think about in game design that don't come up in the beginning/idea stage. A Game Board Analysis is necessary for any future design projects. Also, the need to make sure all players have an equal chance of winning the game is necessary for player interest. No one wants to play a game they've already lost from the start.

To find similar games, we looked on line. Each of us researched one game and compared/contrasted it to Silk Roads Stakes. Caravans of Ahldarahd influenced our judgment of our game and we made the addition of a ship card and the use of sea routes as well as land routes. Viewing the Silkroad Online game inspired some of our Destiny Card ideas such as, "A member of your party ignores the local caste system and insults a local Viashya. All military members of your caravan are killed and you lose 1 gold." Made for Trade helped us get over the need to have money. We realized the realistic medium of exchange would have been to barter goods, but we are happy to have some gold pieces as Made for Trade uses shillings. This inspired us to extend our game board to include a gold/salt mine in Africa and we added Destiny Cards that make attainment of gold possible and useful in sticky situations.

Martin's Play Testing Results

Audience - 7th Grade GATE students at Pacific Beach Middle School

Seven 7th graders play tested. They each took 3 turns which led to a total of 21 turns. I tested during my prep and we took a bit to get set up because we had to improvise on our game board as it was too small, but we used colored pencils and drew our moves with different colored pencils.

Things They Liked
  1. The connection to our curriculum--they got that they would not have understood the game as well if we had not studied this in history.
  2. Loved the look of the game board.
  3. They liked that they had the ability to choose which direction to travel.
  4. Liked the Destiny cards and often opted to travel where they'd land on a question mark.
  5. Liked the object of the game--they thought it was cool that they had to "travel" around the world to get different goods.
  6. Liked the idea of playing a board game in general.

Things They Didn't Like
  1. Some Destiny cards were unclear
  2. Wanted to be able to trade while on the road if they passed someone
  3. Were unsure if a trade should be made in a hub while no one is there.

Students were unclear on some of the Destiny cards which do need to be clarified. Would there be any use for an oasis in the Middle East? This seems like a good idea, but implementing it is as yet unclear. It is also unclear how long it would really take to play the game with 7 players. I think it would take more than an hour, but this is not a bad thing. It's just difficult with seven players. Also, are all 7 players necessary. I think they are not. fewer players would shorten the game, but I think students liked the group size. All in all, students had fun and wished they could keep playing. They wanted to stay in History rather than go to math. That was cool, but I had to send them off anyway.

Martin's Play Testing Results

Audience - AP World History students at Sweetwater High School

There were three play tests completed using a total of 21 tenth grade AP World History students. On the first 2 testings players were able to play through 6 turns before giving their impressions of the game. The final play testing had more time to play and actually completed the game.

Things they liked:
1. Battles and trading opportunities.
2. Bad "stuff" happening to other players via destiny cards.
3. The randomness of the destiny cards.
4. Blocking their opponents chances at obtaining a complete set of trade items.

Things they didn't like:
1. Confusing cards.
2. Too many chance card spots (not everyone agreed with this).

Things they would like to see changed:
1. More centrally located trade hubs (equal spaces) (Might be hard to do given the differing geography.)
2. More chances to battle.
3. Military units with differing powers and abilities.

Observations of the play tests revealed that the destiny cards would need to be clarified in some cases. The top questions from students seemed to center around what to do when reading the destiny cards. Reviewing the destiny cards and ensuring that each card ends with a clear direction may help to clear up any confusion. Students commented that they didn't feel there was enough incentive for going to the African gold mine. There were many opportunities to achieve gold from destiny cards and fighting other players. The main problem they had with the "gold" aspect of the game is that in the end of the game, the gold was good for nothing.

The rules need to be clarified regarding movement of the player game pieces around the board. For example, if a student was 3 spaces from a trade tub and they rolled a 5, do they have the option of stopping at the hub? Or do they have to skip by it and roll the exact number of spaces they would need to enter a hub. It would seem that in the interests of making the game faster and less frustrating, players should be given the option of stopping at the hub should they pass by it.

The only other major design issue found during play testing was how to address the flow of trade pegs in the game. If a player loses a trade item due to a destiny card or to another player (in battle), how do they break even again? A player who loses an item will need some method of gaining a trade item back. At the very least, they will need to gain another trade item to trade back for the type of item they lost. Also, if a player loses a trade item because of a destiny card, where does that trade item go? Possible solutions to this would be to create either a trade item bank or to simply deposit the lost trade item to the nearest hub. If a trade item bank is created (like the bank in Monopoly), destiny cards may need to be created in which players can win certain trade items.

Finally, since the game is designed for seven players, the game board would need to be large enough for seven players to navigate their game pieces. The Sweetwater tests were conducted with 16 x 23 game boards. These proved to be a bit cramped with the players gathering around the board on the floor.

Heidi’s Play Testing Results

Audience – Adults aged 33 to 64

One play test was completed with a group of four adults. Players completed seven turns each.

Results of Game Evaluation:
Clarity – 5 – Rules were somewhat clear and easy to understand though some changes were needed.
Flow – 4.75 – When play testers were asked about why they gave low marks for flow, they responded that the confusion of some of the cards slowed down the game and interrupted flow.
Balance – 6.5 – Players felt that the game was fair to all players though position though the position of a player’s trade hub may lead to different strategies for play
Length – 6.75 – Players anticipated that the game, when played in full, would provide a good hour of fun, which seemed about right to them.
Integration – 6 – Most of the elements that didn’t seem to fit well were the ones that led to confusion such as the various types of water cards.
Fun – 5.5 – Although the play tested version was somewhat fun, players felt the confusion at several points detracted from the fun of the game.

Things they liked:
  1. One player said that she had heard about the silk roads, but the game helped her visualize what the silk roads looked like and understand the kinds of things that might happen there. In particular she said that the game resonated with an idea she had heard about recently on NPR about knowledge exchange between cultures now and in the past. The game helped her understand how knowledge sharing likely occurred in the past.
  2. The same player also felt the game provided a nice illustration of the concept of trading since players physically exchanged colored pegs.
  3. All play testers liked that cards helped to make concrete some of the perils and promise of travel along the silk roads.
  4. In terms of gameplay, all players liked that the Destiny Cards added an element of the unexpected. You might think you are doing well and then suddenly you are not.
  5. Players liked the layout of the board. One player mentioned that at first they felt that some players had a disadvantage because of their location on the board, but as the game played on, they felt this was less true. Their reasoning was that each player had to make contact with either each of the other players or each of the other trade hubs to collect a trade peg from each location. Depending on your strategy, a player could simply stay close to home and force other players to come to them or make other decisions in the hopes of having an advantage.

Things that they didn’t like:
Most of the things the players didn’t like had to do with moments where there was confusion about how the game should proceed.
  1. Water cards were mentioned in two ways. There were water cards that were for water travel and water for drinking. The players were clear on the benefits of water travel cards, but didn’t understand the benefit of obtaining a card for drinking water. Solution: Alter the name of “Water Cards” and rename them “Water Travel Cards” to reduce confusion. On cards where drinking water is attained, specify that this will allow players to advance 5 extra spaces on a single move of their choice.
  2. Several other cards were confusing to players. Several would need to be re-written in order to clarify how players should respond. Solution: Re-write cards so that they are very specific about how a player should response.
  3. Players were confused about how to move in three ways. First, could they move in any direction on a given move? Second, when you roll 6 and you are 2 spots from where you want to be could you just go 2 spots and stop? If you were two spots from a water route and you rolled a 3 could you move the two spots and take the water route on the same move? Solution: Clarify the rule on movement on the board.
  4. The colors on the board for Asia (gold) and the Middle East (green-gold) were too close together. When the board was printed, it was difficult to distinguish which color space a player was on, and that caused confusion about what card color to pull. Solution: Alter the board so that the colors of Asia and the Middle East are more easily distinguished.
  5. When players lost a trade item either from battle or from a Destiny Card, they were unclear about what they should then do since they would then have only six trade items and needed seven to win. Some cards told the player to return to their trade hub, but did they need to do that immediately or did they need to travel back there? Solution: Add an additional rule that clarifies what a player ought to do if they lose a trade piece.

Observations: Players never seemed bored even when they weren't playing. At first players were trying to understand the game, and therefore concentrated on how others were playing the game. Once they started to understand the game, players began discussing strategy and observing how the other players and their locations would factor into their success. The design of the game appears to offer players a chance to make many decisions about strategy. For example, some players chose to stick close to home waiting for other players, while some raced to get to as many trade hubs as they could. In addition, some enjoyed the risk taking of challenging other players in battle while some preferred to make more conservative choices. After playing the game briefly, all players remarked that they would like to play the game again in its final form.