Marrakech is a pleasant surprise!
How exciting does a game about selling rugs sound to you?
If you’re like us, you’d likewise say, “not very”.
When I first heard about this rug market game called Marrakech, I sure didn’t think much of it.
But I gave it a try and was quite surprise by how much I enjoyed it!
Of course, then I also had to push past the upturned noses of those I wanted to introduce it to as well.
I’m happy to report that it’s been equally well received by all those we’ve introduced it to.
I could say it’s the best rug market board game I’ve ever played because it’s the only board game about rug markets I’ve played.
But it turns out that Marrakech is actually quite a fun family board game.
How to Play Marrakech
Marrakech is a very straightforward board game to play.
The goal in Marrakech is to have the most rugs visible in the market at the end of the game while also getting the biggest fortune.
Setting up a game of Marrakech is super simple.
Each player begins 30 Dirhams (money) and a set of colored rugs. The number of rugs each player will use in a game depends on the number of players (15 rugs each in a 3-player game and 12 rugs each in a 4-player game).
Players then place the market owner, Assam, in the center of the board and they’re ready to play.
On a player’s turn, they first choose which way to face Assam. They can leave him facing the same direction or turn him to the left or right. Players just can’t turn him all the way around (180 degrees).
After choosing the direction, the player rolls the movement die.
The number of slippers on the die determines how far Assam will move forward. If Assam reaches the side of the board, he will follow the line that puts him back on the board to continue his moves.
If Assam lands on another player’s rug, the active player must pay that player for landing on their rug. The cost is equal to the total number of connected rug squares of the color landed on.
For example, if Assam lands on a red rug and there are 4 other red rug squares showing that are connected to that space, the player would pay 5 Dirhams to the red rug’s owner.
The next step in a player’s turn is to place one of their rugs in the market.
The player lays one of their rugs next to the space Assam ended on. Each rug will cover two squares. An edge of the newly placed rug must be next to Assam’s square. The rug may be placed on empty squares or over other rugs. The only restriction when placing a rug is that it may not fully cover an opponent’s single rug.
Then it’s the next player’s turn.
Once players have placed all their rugs, the game ends.
Each half of a rug showing and each Dirham count as 1 point.
Players count up the number of their rug squares showing on the board and add that amount to their stash of money. The player with the highest amount wins!
Can the whole family enjoy playing Marrakech?
Marrakech is a wonderful board game the whole family can enjoy playing together!
The rules are simple enough for players of all ages to be able to grasp and there’s a good balance of luck and strategy. And it’s this great balance that makes the game fun for all to enjoy.
There are also multiple levels on which you can play Marrakech. Meaning that if you want to play nicely, you can do so. Yet, if you want to play cutthroat, that’s also an option.
For example, if you’re playing with young kids, you may be less inclined to cover up other players’ rugs along the way or cut off their large connected areas. Whereas if you’re playing with just teens and adults, you can totally opt to cover up their rugs every chance you get.
At the same time, the roll of the die will tend to keep things in check. Because of this random outcome each turn, kids also have a chance to beat their parents (which they’ll love).
Since our kids are older, our games of Marrakech have been more on the cutthroat side – with players gladly cutting off connected rug sections at every opportunity. We’re also more apt to judge the probabilities of risk of landing on certain spots when we turn Assam and roll the die. We love that such a simple game can also be enjoyed at this level.
We should also mention how much we love the material used for the rugs. Since they’re cloth, they stack very well on the game board without sliding around. During the game many rugs will overlap and often get stacked up multiple levels. And these cloth rugs adjust nicely to this key element of the game play. Because the last thing you want to spend the game doing is readjusting the rugs every turn. So these cloth rugs are a perfect for this game.
However, we’re not so enamored with the Assam pawn. Not only does he look extremely outdated, but his flat front is off-putting. We realize he’s made this way to clearly show which way he’s facing. But that could be done in so many ways without needed a sheer front. We also don’t know if it’s the way with every copy of the game, but the painted facial features on our Assam are smeared too. So he’s really unappealing.
We’ve agreed that next time we play the game we’re going to use a character pawn from another game to stand in for Assam. Sure the one we choose may not fit the theme as well, but we think an understudy Assam will be a fresh addition.
How does Marrakech score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
Marrakech gets high marks on our “let’s play again” game meter for a number of reasons. The first is because of how simple the rules are. When we pull it out we don’t have to review the rules at all because they’re so simple. We can pull it out and start playing.
There also isn’t anything complicated about the game set up. Simply give everyone 30 Dirhams and their set of rugs and we’re ready to go at it again.
But the biggest reason why it scores well on our “let’s play again” game meter is because it’s fun. The balance of luck and strategy is great. Players are only faced with two decisions each turn – which way to face Assam and when he stops, on which spots to place their rug. The lucky element is in the roll of the die. And it’s this balance of decisions and luck that keep the game engaging throughout and calling out for rematches when one game finishes.
We highly recommend Marrakech as a great family board game!