Sunday, 19 June 2016

Through the Desert #6 - Tzolk'in

Thought I'd throw this one out there as I currently have it down as my favourite game! There's no real hidden surprises with this one though - it looks like a Euro and it certainly is Euro through-and-through. This is Tzolk'in.

Tzolk'in is a worker placement game with a few twists, the biggest of which is the cogs!

It's a game that tells you two options are available when you actually have dozens. On your turn you can either place workers or pick up workers. When you pick them up you take the action on the spot they were occupying. For the most part these either get you resources, let you construct buildings, appease the Gods (for endgame points) or progress a technology. When you place workers you can place one on the first spot on a cog for free, but if you want to place multiple guys or place where other people are sitting you might have to pay corn. You also have to pay corn to feed each worker at the end of each quarter, so corn management (what a phrase) is key. 

Where this starts to make your head spin (har) is that once everyone's taken an action, the centre cog rotates one step, which makes all the outer cogs rotate one step too. This moves all the workers along one space. The later spaces on the cogs are generally better, but sometimes there's a very specific spot you'll want, so there's a big timing element in when you place & retrieve your workers. 

Mr Green: "Someone's already made an offering at the 7 spot... should I place my skull here or can I wait longer?"
And of course, once you're out of workers to place you're forced to pull at least one back, which adds to the puzzle.

After a couple of plays you'll get the hang of managing the crazy cogs, but what keeps me coming back to this one is all the ways to play it. Should I just grab a couple workers to start and see what everyone else does? Or go straight for a technology that'll give me a head start? Sod it I'll just grab all the corn to give me more flexibility. Generally speaking I hear there's 3-4 viable strategies at high-level play so it's got good staying power. And the available buildings change in each game and really influence what people might go for.

One more twist that might appeal to the shankers out there: everyone has a once-per-game ability to force the centre wheel to turn twice instead of once at the end of the current turn. Everyone's plans are ruined! Mwa ha ha ha... 

So yes, this is Euro through and through and not for everyone, but it's one of the finest out there. Looks great, not too many rules, very thinky and has both depth and variety. I know it's hard for some people to get excited about collecting wood / stone etc. and building things but I still recommend it.

Geek rating: 6/6

I don't actually own this game; one of my Euro chums does, and yet I'm still tempted to grab my own copy. Oh, and the cogs are an opportunity for some amazing paint jobs:

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