Azteca is basically an empire building game. The ultimate goal is to collect the most slaves and sacrifice them to Quetzalcoatl, the Serpent God.
This is a 3 or 4 player game. The game plays best with exactly 4 players. Game time is quite long at 4+ hours; however, it plays at a nice pace.
The game components are very good with a beautiful board representing a section of central Mexico. The counters, cards, and other playing pieces are all very well done.
The game is played in phases, with each player taking a turn before moving onto the next phase.
Phase 1. Cards: Players may have up to 4 cards that give benefits during certain phases of the game.
Phase 2. Collect Tribute (currency): Players earn tribute from their Capitol, and by controlling cities, lake territories, and outer valleys.
Phase 3. Purchase and Recruitment: Players purchase warriors, jaguar knights (elite warriors), Generals, ships, and Pochtecas (diplomat/explorers),
Phase 4. Slave Market. Players bid for slaves, which they later will sacrifice to the Gods.
Phase 5. Pochteca missions. Players may send Pochtecas on expeditions to gain tribute, to form alliances with neutral territories, instigate revolts in enemy cities, assimilate cities, or on spying missions.
Phase 6. Lake Domination. Players vie for control over lake territories.
Phase 7. Flower Wars. Players attack neutral and enemy territories. Each player has three generals. Generals are played on the main board, and the forces for each General are placed on an army organization table. There are reserves that may defend any uninterrupted cities from the Capitol.
Phase 8. Judgment of the Gods: Players choose how many slaves to sacrifice to which God. Sacrificing to Quetzalcoatl earns victory points at the end of the game. Sacrificing to Tezcatlipoca prevents him from eventually destroying the Earth, in which case everyone loses.
As you can see, there is a lot going on in this game. Here is a brief summary:
+ The cards give some nice randomness, without being too chaotic, like in other Tilsit games.
+ Slave markets are interesting, as a player is allowed to look at 2 of the 4 slave cards, then everyone places a closed bid on 1 of the 4 cards.
+ Pochtecas missions present several intriguing and important non-combat choices.
+ The combat choices are a little different in this game. The goal is not necessarily to gain territories, but to capture enemy warriors in battle for sacrifice points.
+ Judgment of the Gods presents a couple of very tough choices that directly affect the outcome of the game.
+ The theme is strong in this game. Playing as an Aztec in the 15th century certainly has a different feel than playing as a German in WWII, and this game reflects that.
- Game time is long
- Some rules are fiddly, like writing down the Pochteca missions and ship placement on a piece of paper.
- The rules translation could have been better.
Overall this game is a very worthy effort. It a fun empire building game with a unique feel that fits the Aztec theme very well.
Sky Knight X wrote:
Phase 7. Flower Wars.
When I first read this in my rule book, I thought it must be a mis-translation - perhaps it should be "Flow of War" or something.
But, no, it is apparently correct - Wikipedia tells me that this is what the Aztec battles are known as.
However, I still can't find the counter for the Marigolds of Mass Destruction.