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Mr. Bunny
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Richmond
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Tikal – Review
(Originally posted on BoardGame-Reviews.com)

Tikal was first published in 1999 and is designed by the “action-point” duo of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. This game is widely available and is published by Rio Grande Games.

Tikal:

Designed by: Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling
Published by: Rio Grande Games
Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 120 min
Player ages: 10+

A Quick Overview

Players are explorers in the jungles of Guatemala searching for lost temples and treasures. By sending their teams of explorers into the jungles, new areas are discovered and may include volcanoes, temples and treasures!

The winner is the one who is able to discover and maintain control of temples and treasures while skillfully preventing other explorers from encroaching on territory.

Game Play

On a player’s turn, a game tile is revealed and the player places that tile onto the gameboard. This simulates the exploration of the jungle.

Once a tile has been revealed, a player has 10 “action points” to deploy explorers, excavate temples, dig for treasure, establish camps and so on.

When a volcano tile has been revealed, a scoring round is triggered and players take turns expending action points and then scoring.

Observations

Tikal is the first of the “Mask Trilogy”. Other games in this trilogy are Java, Mexica (and possibly Torres as the fourth!)

This game was among the first games that I purchased when I was first introduced to Euro-type games. I liked this game then and I still like it now! Of course, being Spiel des Jahres winner in 1999 helps.

The production quality of this game is fantastic. The tiles are colourful and evoke the lush greenery and mystery of a jungle. The game insert is well thought out holds the components nicely.

The game itself is very good being cerebral and playing for about 2 hours. I have found that as the game progresses, the length of time between player turns increases.

If that is a concern to you, then I would recommend playing other action point games such as Mexica.

Included in the rules are an “auction variant” to this game. For newer players, I would recommend playing the basic rules (summarized in the Game Play section above). But for those players who wish to minimize the luck of drawing a good tile, the auction variant is tense and adds another layer of complexity.

The game does state that it is possible to play with 2 players but if you are playing with the entire tile manifest (30+ tiles) then it loses some of the tension and becomes more of a race.

There are other unofficial variants such as “mini Tikal” on Board Game Geek which play with a smaller tile manifest (about 12 tiles) to retain the tension; the bonus being this variant finishes in about 30 minutes.

Of the other games designed by Kramer and Keisling, I prefer Mexica over Tikal only because it isn’t as cerebral and takes about an hour to play. If I wanted a game with a similar complexity and shorter play time, I would recommend Torres.

Still Tikal is a classic and age hasn’t diminished its excellence! This game is highly recommended.

Happy gaming.
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Tom Duensing
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I just pulled this and played it my wife and daughters. Haven't played it for awhile. I forgot how good the game is. Great theme, components, and game play. Thanks for the review.
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