Snakes & Blogs
2013-04 ‹ By Month
We survived 2012 just in time for Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar by designers Simone Luciani, Daniele Tascini and published by Czech Games Edition. Immediately you are drawn into this rich worker placement game... with a literal twist.
Through its most interesting eye catching component and by extension unique mechanic, this game is set above others in the genre. Sitting in the middle of its glossy jigsaw-like board are giant detailed gears depicting the Mayan calendar. The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward and easy to grasp with tons of depth below its surface. This really shines through making it one of those games that will take a few plays to truly get the hang of. Tzolk'in is all about making the right decisions and timing, carrying out actions and letting others to ride the wheel. Definitely something you will end up playing on a regular basis.
The game is measured in turns of the central wheel and with each turn the players place or remove their Mayan villagers on or from several of the outer gears. Each gear has a specific purpose generally granting the players a resource or an action that can be performed at a given location. Once the two years have passed represented by one full revolution of the central Tzolk'in gear, you are left feeling that you should likely play this again to try new and interesting strategies regardless of who won. Whether you decide to focus on pleasing the gods by placing crystal skulls in caves or building many temples, in the end they are just two of the many paths to victory available. Tzolk’in is absolutely something new in the strategic worker placement game line-up with a fresh new innovative component.
- Dan Legault
Here is a fantastic game where ancient gods exert their influence over cults vying for power in the scorching desert sun. Through warfare and sacrifice the sands are stained, as giant living machines of destruction tear down city walls.
Welcome to the land of Kemet, a new offering by Matagot whom previously brought us Cyclades (which this title feels in some ways a spiritual sequel to.) I was taken aback at the beautiful components, very cool miniatures and great artwork draws you right in to this title. Each god has its own unique detailed warriors as well as large mythical beasts. Not to mention the boards captivating art and intuitive design, mystical kingdoms are divided by a river that actually sizes the game based on how many players there are. All cities and locations are the same distance away from each other without appearing to be, making for a great marriage of art, design and game balance.
Kemet is a straightforward strategy game, with cutthroat conflict at its core. Each player assumes the role of an ancient Egyptian deity (such as Ra, Anubis, Sekhmet or Sobek.) along with its own tribe of devoted worshippers and your goal is to take over kingdoms during the course of multiple day/night cycle. This game is delightfully diceless, feeling in some ways like “Chaos in the Old World” meets “Small World”. Kemet is ideal for someone looking to enjoy a uniquely brilliant war-game with a great theme, no player elimination and a reasonable play time. Victory points often exchange hands through area control or are gained permanently through sacrifices. Remember, in the desert sun, only the strong survive.
- Dan Legault
There is a glut of games available to transport you back in time to the Dark Ages, those centuries after the fall of Rome where everything in Europe went down the toilet. Including toilets.
Many are the times that I have sat down with friends in order to farm land, collect rocks, and build castles, but one night, in a passion, I swore never to play another game where I would have to deal with workers, craftsmen, traders and builders. (Except for Carcassonne. No one hates Carcassonne.) I am here today to say that I have rescinded my pretentious proclamation, because a new game – which includes farmers, weavers and traders, set in the Dark Ages – is too fantastic to ignore.
I was taught Guildhall, the new card game from AEG, the other week, and I cannot get enough of it. It has simple mechanics, but its simplicity facilitates teaching rather than stifling playability. You have a hand of cards, all of which belong to one of the six professions in the game. Each profession, when played, gives you a particular action and goes into your guildhall, a personal tableau, at the end of your turn. The more cards of a particular profession you have, the stronger the effect is when another is played on subsequent turns. The professions are collected into sets (five different colours), which give the player the opportunity to buy point cards – first to twenty points wins.
It is a remarkably fun game. Frankly, I wish I were playing it right now, rather than working on this article. So long as you heed my words and give it a try next time you’re in the café, my painful sacrifice will not have been in vain. So play Guildhall right now. If it can make me excited to play another game set in the Dark Ages, it can win over anyone.
- Colin Young