Six Sons of the Sultan is a mini point saladish game by Todd Sanders that packs a lot of game play into a small package. With a measly 6 cards, 19 counters, and three six sided dice, players buy teas and earn Prestige (victory points) from the Sultan thereby jockeying to become the Chief Tea Merchant.
To begin each player starts with 5 Wealth and places one counter on each of the tea cards, one counter on the 5 spot on the wealth card, and two counters on the Prestige card (which counts by 1 until 20 — then has a 30,40,50,etc. — using the extra counter to do a plus to these.)
A player turn involves rolling dice to establish what tea to buy and how much wealth you earn each round. A round counter counts ten rounds to the end of the game — the player with the most Prestige wins. The dice mechanism adds strategy to the game. The first player rolls all three dice (only at the beginning of the game) and one die is forwarded to the other player who will be rolling the two remaining and choosing which one to forward back. The two dice plus one forwarded is continued to through all 10 rounds.
Rolling two dice and adding the forwarded die a player chooses which die to forward, which die to use as a tea purchase, and which to use for wealth. Each Tea card has a die number pictured corresponding to the chosen die roll. Players then spend Wealth to move up the Tea Order track. Each move up the track has a cost and an earned Prestige. After Tea Orders have been placed and Prestige accounted for — wealth is added back from the remaining retained die.
The Tea Order tracks have Special Action spaces that reward players if they are able to remain on them from their order. Each Tea provides a specific Special Action that is taken on the NEXT turn — (1) making costs one less, (2)using wealth die as second order, (3) re roll any die, (4) double wealth value, (5) swapping counters on a tea card THIS turn, and the black tea (6) special action is an end of game action that negates one of the other players Prestige on one track...but that action is the last space on the black tea card. Special Actions MUST be landed on and if a player has either used the Special Action (landed on it) or passed it — the action is no longer available to the other player — creating a bit of a race for Special Actions.
Decisions really require that costs and Prestige be carefully scrutinized as the amounts paid and the Prestige received is not linear. Which Tea Orders a player pursues and how much they spend to get there before the other player provide some thinkyness. In all, the game has a fiddly fiendishness that is not found of fat fingers. The cards are small necessitating small counters and the wealth track has these small counters vying for space — not to mention the 19 plus 20,30,40, etc.
But. The game is fun. There is dice rolling, but the results involve decisions. The tea tracks have odd cost and value spits and sputters. The forwarded die allows some player interaction and strategy. There is a Solo mode as well — which involves forcing the forwarded die on the AI as a Tea Order and a die roll replaces Wealth — and moves up the track 1, 2, or 3 spaces. Added to that — each even round the AI moves up one on the (6) Black Tea track. My solo game was very close and I had to make sure my Prestige was greater right at the correct time.