‘Trade on the Tigris’ Review–That is Some Ungodly Barley

12 min readOct 14, 2018

Posted on October 14, 2018 by Logan Giannini

When I was a little kid my family was good friends with another family who happened to have two girls of almost exactly the same age as my older brother and I. We would get together multiple times each week, play games, go to the park, and most importantly share our then-hobby of collecting beads. Glass, plastic, etc, it didn’t matter, the more unique they were the better, and we would hoard and cherish them and then get-together and barter with each other, swapping three mundane pieces for that glass one that looked like a mouse, and so forth.

One day, we happened to visit and I neglected to bring my collection, but I still wanted more than anything to trade beads with my friends, so I asked if I could borrow a single bead from one of them, promising to pay them back for it later on. They agreed, and I found myself with seed money–well, bead money, if you will. Over the next hour I bartered and traded back-and-forth with them until I found myself in possession of an obscenely large part of their respective collections. Having started with nothing. Having started with their beads.

The story ends with my mother making me give back everything I had effectively swindled (through perfectly legitimate barter, I might add) from my friends. I was six years old. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve always liked trade and negotiation games. Which brings us to Trade on the Tigris.

What is Trade on the Tigris?

From publisher TMG (Tasty Minstrel Games), Trade on the Tigris has an interesting pedigree. Listeners of the boardgame science podcast Ludology will be familiar with its history, as co-designer Geoff Engelstein also co-hosts the podcast, and much of the birth of the game is tied up with an inside joke that grew into an entire boardgame. The joke is to do with all the potential themes there are in our rich, versatile world and the fact that designer after designer returns to the well of “goods trading in the Mediterranean region” which keen-eyed observers will recognize to be the source for Tigris‘ title.

As time went on, the joke grew into a parody, and gradually the parody grew into something akin to tongue-in-cheek homage as Geoff and…


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