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Subject: Playing Tikal with Gollum rss

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Courtesy Jeff Meitzler

What is it about teenagers’ these days?

One minute you feel close to them, like you can trust them, and the next you are sleeping with one eye open. Like when you are eating French fries @ dinner and you NEED catchup to help slide them down and you also know that the kid across from you is going to use the last of it – squirt it on his plate with authority – whether he will actually swallow it or not.

Well when my oldest son told me that he wanted to teach me Tikal, I had my suspicions. What is it that he wanted from me exactly? Was this something that was only going to last a few minutes or was he going to get miffed off at me and smear the Friday night all to heck or the entire weekend? Time would tell…

He told me that he learned the game from a friend at a local gaming group that we go to and it would be simple to learn, played quickly and was a lot of fun. I knew the guy that taught him and so had hope.

I decided to pour a cup of coffee and grab some sandwich baggies for when we were done as part of my normal religious board gaming ceremony. When I brought them over to the table he looked at me as if I had just fallen off the turnip truck and said, “you’re not going to need those. It all fits in the box just fine”.

And he was right. Long before people had gotten all lathered up over the insert for Lords of Waterdeep, Rio Grande had beaten them to the punch with this insert. Very nicely designed indeed so you won’t need baggies with Tikal !

Courtesy Wikipedia

To his credit he had the table cleared off and the game set up before I even got there. I looked at the tiles and pieces that he had in stacks and mentally noted that there were not any “hanging chads” or mutilated (stripped to bare paper) pieces. This was welcome news since I have had Tikal sitting on the shelf for a long time, not even punched out, and even have the iPad app, but have never attempted to learn either. I told him that he did a good job.

He started explaining to me that every turn takes the same format of (1) Placing a tile and then (2) using action points of which each player has 10 every turn

And by the way this game plays F-A-S-T

I asked him what the cardboard pieces were for that were near the box away from us. He said, “Bill said we don’t need these to play the game”. OK I told him – fine with me. [Turns out these were markers for the Auction style of the game of which we had not scratched the surface.]

The tiles were in a neat stack with numbers on the back which assured me that we couldn’t mess those up. He then introduced me to the bonus tiles that go on top of the temples and of which there were a certain amount only. Clearly, these tiles could be a game changer.

He showed me how placing and rotating the tile is a large part of the strategy since the tiny gold steps on the tiles each add up and the more of them you have to move over the more costly it is to move in that direction.

The Volcano event tiles are unique in that they signal a scoring round and it is at this time you want to have as many temples with the majority of your workers around them. It’s like this:

· If you have more of your workers around a temple you get the points on your turn

· If you have the same number as your opponent neither of you score

Nobody wins these 3 points!

He placed a treasure tile in front of me and a treasure token. He told me that it costs a certain amount of action points to take a treasure token from the board and that you can also take one from an opponent as long as they are not part of a set. There it was – the “take that” factor. I was wondering if he was going to pillage my treasures at every opportunity…

Then he turned his attention to the players’ bits. Now this game is dripping with theme and the bits are no exception. The colors are bright and there are only 3 different varieties of wood for each player:

1. The workers

2. The tents – you have 2 of these which are just like spawn points he said

3. The single leader which are equal to 3 workers

Turns out that each player can “cap” two temples which means that those points belong to you and cannot be stolen. When a temple is capped the player places one of his workers on top of it and then all of his other workers on that same tile are removed from the game (put those back in the box insert).

I had an excellent time playing Tikal with my son and he can gladly teach me another sometime!

He explained the rules very nicely and I could easily teach others the basics, play the SUPERB universal app by Sage and I will also look into the single player and spiffed 2 player variant.

Courtesy of the great movie Apocalypto

My son is a natural at teaching he just doesn't know it yet. And when he comes off of this teenager planet he dwells on I will try to communicate that to him.

Until then I have purchased Cosmic Encounter
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