There are also tiles that play during your turn, where you can switch your Lira rolls into taking one resource tile of a set type (e.g. rolled a coin but don’t want the cash? Take a cloth marker). These can also have a big impact on the game, as it allows players to get a slightly easier time accruing certain goods.
One feature I haven’t discussed is rerolls – technically, you don’t get any. The exception to this is crystals, which you can gain by trading in two different resources or via Mosque Tiles and Bazaar cards. If you trade in a crystal, which does not count as an action, you can choose to reroll as many dice as you wish.
Again, you need to really think about if you are going to reroll or not though. While cashing in a crystal is simple enough, the fact it will cost you a future action makes it expensive in terms of play economy. Also, if you are in a tiebreaker situation, crystals are worth three Lira which could tip a win in your favour.
Of course, tiebreakers mean nothing if you don’t think you can get enough rubies to be in the endgame, so it all boils down to picking the right moment and luck being with you.
Why do I enjoy Istanbul the Dice Game?
One thing I really like about Istanbul the Dice Game is that while it is a very competitive game at its heart, there are no real ‘take that’ mechanics in the game. True, when you buy a ruby the price goes up, but that is the same for yourself just as much as other players. At no point do you take anything from another player, so no one can be picked on or crowded out in this game, which is something a table can do in Istanbul the Board Game.
The Bazaar Cards are also a clever inclusion as well, and not as an Istanbul mechanic. Playing one will reward the drawing player the most, but a good number give the other players a benefit as well. That benefit can be straightforward (take money or goods), but it can also be the choice to exchange something to help them out as well, such as change goods for Lira.
It may seem small, but because Bazaar Cards are so commonly played during a game, players have a level of engagement on each turn, even if it’s just to see if that player will activate a Bazaar Card. Far too many dice games are simply ‘roll dice – do the thing – tune out until my turn again’. It’s true you can play this way, but that would be a sign to me that you really aren’t engaging in the game and it may not be for you.