Hey folks. We’re back in Gullbottom again. Remember, it’s that Port Town that I reviewed in Harbour. A fantasy realm filled with dwarfs, elves, humans and trolls. Well, this time we’re looking at the shady end of Gullsbottom. We’re specifically looking at those entrepreneurs and opportunists. Hold onto your wallet, purse, and cash. We’re looking at Thief’s Market. It’s a 3-5 player game that plays in about 40 minutes produced by Tasty Minstrel Games. It’s a dice rolling and dice “drafting” game where players are trying to become the most infamous player.
This small box game comes with the rules, wooden start player token, 13 custom dice, 49 market cards, 5 player reference cards, coin tokens, and infamy tokens. These are all packed into the box. Nothing slides around, but there’s not a lot of room to add anything. The cards are split up into A, B, and C cards.
The dice are nice custom dice. There are 4 gems, a gold pouch, and infamy symbol on all the dice. The gems are Red, White, Blue, and Green. These are used to purchase the market cards. The gold pouch lets you trade the die in at the end of the round for a gold token. Gold tokens can be used as any gem when purchasing market cards. Infamy dice can be traded in at the end of the round for an infamy token. These are what determines the winner at the end of the game.
The market cards have a type symbol on the top left of the card. Under that will be a combination of gems needed to purchase the card. The bottom of the cards have actions to use during the purchase phase to manipulate the dice. These are usually changing one gem into another or exchanging gems for infamy tokens.
The game is played in multiple rounds. Each round in two phases. First, the “Splitting” the loot phase. Then the purchase phase. You might have noticed the quotations around “Drafting” and “Splitting” so far in this review. Well, that’s because we’re thieves. It’s more of a pick some dice and hope no one else steals from you. For the purchase phase, you’ll be buying cards from the A pile until you can’t replenish the line. Then the B pile opens up. Once the B pile can’t replenish the line, C pile is opened. Once C pile can’t replenish the line, then it’s the end of the game. Depending on the number of players, you might take some dice out of the pool.
To set up, give each player a gold token. Depending on how many players there are, the A, B, and C piles will need cards removed before starting. Then, you’ll flip over 5 cards from pile A. The player who most recently stole something is the first player. Alternatively, you can have your own method of choosing first player.
The game starts by rolling the dice. Place the starting player token in with the dice. That’s the loot. Now it’s time to start splitting the loot. The chosen first player will take what they think is fair. It has to be at least one die or the start player token. Now, the next player can pick from the loot pile what they want. Alternatively, they can steal everything from any player. If they do that, they have to generously put one die back. They re-roll a single die to put back into the loot pile. This goes on until everyone has something in front of them and nothing left in the loot pile. This can be quick, or go on for a while. Either way, it’s fun to steal in the game.
Next, it’s the purchase phase. The player that took the start player token has two benefits. First, they get to make the first purchase during this phase. Next, they get to split the loot first next round. Players get to purchase one card only, unless they have a card that let’s you purchase additional cards. Dice used to purchase goes back into the loot pile. Once every player has had a turn to purchase a card, the round is over.
At the end of a round, Infamy and Gold Bag dice are traded in for tokens. Then you’ll replenish the market cards. There should always be 5 cards out for purchase. If pile A can’t be replenished, then you move to pile B and flip over 5 cards.
The game goes on until you can’t replenish pile C. So it’s looting, splitting, buying, and repeat. Not a lot to the game, but there are a lot of dice manipulation with the market cards. The player with the most henchmen cards gets 3 infamy, the next player gets 1 infamy. Then, the player with the most gold tokens gets 3 infamy. You’ll add up all the infamy tokens and bonuses. Some of the market cards will also have infamy amounts on them. Add those up too. The player with the most infamy becomes the winner and the King of Thieves.
So, what are my thoughts on the game? I like the dice drafting phase. It’s a nice slip and choose mechanic, that other players can really mess up our plans if you’re too greedy. I like the player interaction during this phase. Then, the purchase phase is okay. I think there’s too many ways to manipulate the dice. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem, but it felt over whelming with my group. There was too much flipping back and forth and looking at what each card did. I believe as time goes on, it will get easier, but there was a lot of analysis paralysis during this phase. I like how the start token not only lets you buy first, but also pick the loot first next turn. Once again, it’s the same artist that worked on Harbour and Harvest. So it really completes the feel of being in Gullsbottom and the same universe as the other games. I like that sort of art style, and I’m one to like a collection. This game will be staying in my collection, even though I don’t think it will get a lot of play. I wouldn’t recommend this game to the casual players. If you’re a group that has played a lot of games with dice manipulation and would ease into the market cards, I can see this being a lot of fun. My group just couldn’t get into that aspect of the game as much as the looting phase.