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Subject: A Great Game When You Have 2 Hours Tikal rss

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James Fehr
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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I brought out Tikal to play the other day with my wife Heather and brother Timothy. I had played a couple of times with my children, and several times on spielbyweb, but never actually face-to-face with other adults. I was curious to see how it would play out, having heard lots of complaints about downtime. In fact, whenever I hear this game mentioned, it always seems to be in the context of talking about games that have extreme analysis paralysis issues.

I had previously been impressed with how well this game works with children. I've played with my kids (between the ages of 5 and 8), and although they certainly didn't fully understand the strategy, they loved racing to accumulate treasures as soon as a tile with treasures was laid down. If you want a real kid-friendly game, you can always ignore the temples altogether. However, my 8 year old daughter actually gave me a run for my money the last time we played, as she started to pick up on the importance of guarding temples. I certainly had no trouble with analysis paralysis playing with them. About the only complaint I might have in playing this with children is the game's length - just a tad longer than your average 5 year old can probably concentrate.

Back to the game with adults. My wife is not really a gamer, but my brother is. The game took about 2 hours to play, and I think everyone enjoyed it - although 2 hours is a little long for Heather's tastes. Here are some reasons why a non-gamer might like this game:

Pros:
- It's a very pretty game. The artwork is very detailed (down to tire treads imprinted on the dirt beside the base camp) and lush.
- The idea of exploring a jungle is usually pretty appealing. People that like Carcassonne have a good chance of wanting to try this.
- The rules are relatively simple. In fact, for a game with this amount of strategic depth, I think it has some of the simplest rules out there.
- It doesn't take any longer to play with 4 people than 3.

Cons:
- It can easily take a couple of hours to play.
- With people that have to make just the right move every turn, downtime can be an issue.
- A newbie doesn't have much chance of beating experienced players (I see this as a pro, but many newbies won't).

Heather and I started off competing for a temple we quickly made valuable on one side of the board. This played into Timothy’s hand of course, who we left alone a bit too much throughout the course of the game. I’ve found this to happen with online 3 player games as well – it’s easy for two people to start fighting over some territory and then spend a significant portion of the game loading their pieces onto it, playing chicken over who will give up and leave first – while all the time the third person is relatively unhindered.

This game was rather strange in that Heather ended up being the one to pick up all three volcano tiles, which I think worked out to her advantage. Timothy was able to accumulate about twice the amount of treasure that Heather and I did, which I normally think of as a weakness, because it's often to the detriment of claiming temples. In this case, it put him in very good stead, especially considering he was lucky enough to grab a set or two as he went.

We were all about neck and neck until about 2/3 of the way through the game, when Heather and I failed to see a choice spot of real estate with easy access to four temples all around it. I think it was a treasure tile that had just been cleared. Once Timothy had placed a camp on it, we knew the game was basically over.

It felt like the game went along at a pretty good pace. I think that for most of the game, downtime is not too much of an issue, contrary to public opinion, at least when playing with average players. There are a lot of choices, but if you make a few longer term plans and you’re not blocked at every turn, it doesn’t have to take long to simply follow through with them. The last scoring round can drag if it’s a close game – in our game, Timothy was far enough ahead that he didn’t have to worry about squeezing out every point he could, and so it didn’t take us long to finish it. In the end, Timothy won with 136 points, I was not too far behind with 127, and Heather had 97.

 
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Wade Broadhead
United States
Pueblo
Colorado
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I LOVE this game ahving played it twice. Both times we clipped along even with new players. I think we finished in an hour twenty ish. People have to stay alert and prepare their turn options ahead of time, and just suck it up and make choices. The optimal maximizers can probably slow the game down a ton. Either way the game is a real gem to "discover" recently.
 
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Timotheus
Canada
Vancouver
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That was a good game... lol
 
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