Gameplay Shot

Board Game Resource Review – Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar

In All, Reviews by Zach Hillegas1 Comment

Tzolkin Review

Game Box
The Mayan calendar may not have accurately predicted the end of the world, but it sure makes for a heck of a board game. This is Tzolk’in, a wonderful worker placement game based around said calendar, putting you under pressure as the cogs of its gear tick ever slowly to the inevitable end. Designed by Deniele Tascini and Simone Luciani and published by Rio Grande/Czech Games Edition in 2012 (heh), Tzolk’in is a game that takes a traditional mechanic and throws a unique twist onto it – the giant gear that represents the calendar. The gear on the board puts an interesting spin on traditional worker placement mechanics, and it works in all the best ways.

 

Gameplay

How do you play the game? Is it a fun experience? How much interaction is there between the players? Is there very much luck involved? Will it take forever to to learn and teach?

Gameplay Shot

Depth

How much strategy is involved? Is there a sense of variety and balance? Does the game play well no matter how many players there are? How long does it take to play?

Gameplay 2

Look and Feel

Is the game aesthetically pleasing? Are the components made out of quality material, or do they feel cheap? Is the rulebook well-designed and easy to read? How well is theme integrated into the game?

Main Gear

Value

Is it a game you can play over and over? Are there expansions available for the game, and if so, are they necessary? Does the amount of the content in the box justify the price?

Action

Conclusion

Tzolk’in is a divisive game. It has a certain appeal, and if that appeal is within your taste, it does everything very, very well. Tzolk’in is tough as nails, requiring acute strategy and smart plays, and is not afraid to punish you if you make unwise choices. Tzolk’in also doesn’t add luck and randomness to soften things up – this is a game that is played by skill and will be won by skill. Under the ever ticking clock of the harvest, players will feel the stress of trying to reap what they sow, being rewarded with immense satisfaction when successful, and crushing famine when not so.

Tzolk’in’s mechanics are tight, focused, and they all work well with each other. The plastic gears that may at first appear to be gimmicks end up coming off as a design mechanic that’s sophisticated, elegant, and altogether unique. Tzolk’in is a game that invites you to explore its depth, to replay it time and time again to find out the extent of what you truly can do with its immense catalogue of actions. If you’re a player that enjoys the challenge that Tzolk’in pitches your way, it will be one of the best games you add to your collection.

If, however, this challenge isn’t in your usual taste, you might want to skip Tzolk’in. You might enjoy it a few times and appreciate some of its mechanics, but you’ll most likely move onto something new pretty quickly. For people who love this genre, Tzolk’in is the game that keeps on giving. Otherwise, well, there are plenty of fish in the sea.

Verdict

YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF…

  • You like hard games
  • You like as little luck as possible
  • You like games where your decisions carry weight
  • You like worker placement games
  • You like games that require many playthroughs to discover their depth
  • You like managing a tight economy
  • If you like games that reward you for planning ahead
  • If you like games with unique mechanics

YOU WON’T LIKE THIS GAME IF…

  • You don’t like games that feel punishing
  • You don’t like making stressful choices
  • You like games with strong player interaction
  • You like making decisions on a whim instead of planning ahead
  • You want a game that can be played quickly
  • You don’t like memorizing iconography
  • You don’t like having to choose between a huge amount of choices
  • You like occasional random elements
About the Author

Zach Hillegas

Zach is an avid tabletop gamer, and he created Board Game Resource out of his love for the hobby, and his desire to see more people come into it. When he's not writing for or managing BGR, Zach might be hanging out with cats, hiking a mountain, or spending time with his lovely wife. Zach is currently studying for a degree in Business Management. Zach has also enjoys creating digital character art. You can check out his gallery here, or follow him on Instagram at @artworkbyzach!

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