Caravans of Asia (Board Game)

Reviewed by Jonathan Lewis

These days, there are more games on the market than anyone could ever hope to count. I have sometimes thought that all the truly original and enjoyable games have already been invented, and all the new releases are just so much noise and clutter—mere distractions from favorite classics such as Clue and Monopoly. But that was before I saw Caravans of Asia.

The basic premise of this game is for players to earn a profit while transporting goods back and forth across ancient Asia. Desert bandits, sandstorms, goods shortages and surpluses, and a variety of other unpredictable factors add elements of interest and surprise.

The game is recommended for ages twelve and up, and I think that’s fairly accurate. Younger players could participate but would probably find it more enjoyable to be on a team with a parent or an older sibling. The game can accommodate up to six players, though more could play by pairing up into teams to discuss strategy and brainstorm next moves.

At first, the game seemed a bit complicated. One of my few complaints is that some of the instructions weren’t as clear as they could have been. Even so, after a minor snag or two, the game was underway and we were quickly enjoying ourselves.

Caravans of Asia isn’t just about fun, however. As a game rooted in the concepts of commerce and trade, it offers lessons to be learned as well. Players must balance risk against reward, factor in various expenses involved in transporting goods across the board, and evaluate whether a quick, small profit is more worthwhile than a larger profit that takes longer to earn. These and other lessons are wrapped up in the strategy of the game.

Families who enjoy such games as Risk, Monopoly, and Settlers of Catan will probably enjoy Caravans of Asia as well. It’s a game of strategy and planning. As such, it’s more involved than simpler board games such as Sorry! or games such as Farkle or Uno. But for those of us who enjoy a game we can really sink our teeth into, Caravans of Asia is a winner.

Information and availability subject to change without notice.