Episode 192: Merv: Heart of the Silk Road

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1) The Pegs discuss their recent game plays including CloudAge, Invasion of the Brood, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle and many more;

2) All the Pegs review Merv: Heart of the Silk Road; and

3) Look back at 7 Souls.

Show Notes

00:01:11 – Trivia: Is there a naked man in that camel?


00:07:03 – Our long dark winter is coming to an end

00:09:50 – GenCon Dates

00:12:00 – Christina’s R&R weekend: Journal 29, Birdwatching, Wingspan Field Guide

00:18:06 – Robb culls too soon

00:21:11 – Buncha Kickstarters

00:24:02 – Christina on Game Fight Show

00:25:08 – Robb on Cardboard Conjecture


00:27:30CloudAgeCapstone Games; Designer: Alexander PfisterArno Steinwender; Art: Christian Opperer;

00:38:47Invasion of the Brood * – Petersen Games; Designer: Sandy Petersen; Art: Alyssa McCarthy;

00:48:43 – And now a word from our sponsor, Queen Games

00:50:01TinderbloxAlley Cat Games; Designer: Rob Sparks; Art: Rory Muldoon;

00:56:41 Harry Potter: Hogwarts BattleThe Op; Designer: Forrest-Pruzan CreativeKami MandellAndrew Wolf; Art: Joe Van Wetering;


01:04:46Luminescence Print and Play

01:09:19 – New Unmatched releases: Houdini vs. The Genie, Rosie the Riveter vs. Shakespeare

01:10:28 – Upcoming Dragon Prince Board Game by Brotherwise Games

01:12:572022 Quest Calendar Adventure a Day RPG

01:15:36 – A word from our sponsor, Grand Gamers Guild

REVIEW: Merv: Heart of the Silk Road

01:16:49 – Rules Breakdown

Merv: The Heart of the Silk Road is a 1 to 4 player action selection and resource management game designed by Fabio Lopiano, with art by Ian O’Toole and published in 2020 by Osprey Games.  In Merv, players will gain victory through intrigue, trade, and careful defense of their properties via a series of distinct but interconnected actions.

The available actions in the game are represented by a 5 x 5 grid of tiles, each of which represents one of the five main actions in the game, a resource, and a space for a house and soldier.  These tiles are randomly assigned at the start of each game.  Players take actions by moving their Master meeple around the outside of this grid, one face of the grid per turn, and taking one of the available actions in the row or column next to that meeple.  If the action tile is empty, the player may place one of their houses on it; otherwise, the player who controls that tile will gain a resource benefit along with the active player.

As the game continues, the action tiles on the board will begin to fill up with player houses, making action selection more valuable as the number and type of resources a player will receive will depend on how many colors of the same house are in the row or column in which the player is taking an action.  For example, if I take an action on a tile with a yellow house, I will claim the resource printed on the tile for each other tile also containing a yellow house.  As resources are both vital and scarce, maximizing resource acquisition during this phase is critical.

After each player has had a turn on a face of the grid, turn order is selected for the next round of actions, with the player last in the current turn order selecting where they want to be positioned first.  Players then move their Master meeples onto a row or column of actions again, take the resulting action, and so forth, for a total of four times per game round.

Actions involve a number of different areas of the board and mechanics, but in all cases taking an action will require the active player to spend one or more resources to gain benefits.  In most cases, when a player takes an action they may spend any number of resources to claim any number of benefits, so long as they can pay the cost.  Actions involve things like building walls outside the perimeter of the city – the 5 x 5 grid of tiles – turning in resources for goods in the market, claiming contracts, placing courtiers in the palace to gain favor, or donating to the mosque and advancing along the mosque track.  

Actions also tend to have connections to other actions – for example, to complete contracts you need the goods you gain from the market action, but the value of the contract you can claim is determined by your position on a separate influence track, which is generally modified by building walls.  In this way, taking actions is almost always influenced, in some way, by your position in a different action area.

In the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the game, the action phase is followed by an attack phase, where the Mongol hordes lay siege to the city.  During this phase, players will advance space by space around the perimeter of the action area, removing houses from the first two action spaces in each row and column that aren’t protected by walls or soldiers, or if the controlling player of the tile doesn’t pay a bribe, in resources, to the attackers.

The attack phase is followed by a scoring phase, during which players will score points for remaining houses on the board, certain scoring tiles they may hold, and potential points from the Palace action, where players may spend favors – if they have them – to score in different areas depending on where, and if, they placed courtiers earlier in the game.

Finally, players will gain and lose camel resources over the course of the game.  Camels play a vital role in any number of things, from claiming special bonus actions, to allowing players to advance farther in turn order, to determining what resources a player can purchase from the caravan.

Merv plays over 3 rounds, or 12 actions, with a final scoring phase that includes a handful of end-game point opportunities, at which point the player with the highest score wins.

01:20:34 – Review

01:40:42 – Ratings

01:50:41 – And now a word from our sponsor, AEG


01:51:477 SoulsInside Up Games; Designer: Conor McGoey; Art: Rhys ap Gwyn;

Check out our original review for 7 Souls during Episode 167.

Gameplay Photos

* Disclosure: These titles were received free of charge by the publishers or distributors. If you are interested in submitting a title for review, please read our Review Policy.

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