First play: Tikal II: The Lost Temple

 Author ianoble    Category 2-Player, Board Games, Tikal II     Tags , ,

(Photo by Hélio Andrade via BoardGameGeek.com)

Tikal II has been on my want list for a long time…pretty much from the time it was announced. This is mainly because I really enjoy Tikal, but have never actually picked up a copy. I played it once in person and a few times online, mostly with 4 players. The original was a bit dry, but definitely a brain burner with many opportunities for tough decision making. That being said, I was concerned it might not be a game that would work well with only 2 players. So, in doing my research on the “sequel” I found that they worked hard to have the game play very similar no matter how many players. Also, they recognized the issue with Analysis Paralysis (AP) that a lot of people criticized the original game for. Both welcome changes, in my book and definitely the makings of a game I would be willing to pick up and play with Lisa.

Tikal II: The Lost Temple by Asmodee

(Photo by Hélio Andrade via BoardGameGeek.com)

After opening the box and seeing the components up close, I was not disappointed. So much detail went into the board and each player’s camp piece. I could already tell I would not have any problem looking at this board for 1-2 hours. The detail on the hexagon tiles match the Temple theme perfectly. The pirogue (which you will end up calling “the boat) is a cool little component that fits it’s purpose very well. Could have been a little bigger, as it can be hard to see from across the large board. The explorer pieces are also small, but they do not lack in detail. Also, having each player’s piece be a different figure is a nice touch. What a welcome site to not see one wood cube in a game!!

(Photo by Hélio Andrade via BoardGameGeek.com)

Playing the game!

Normally I like to do a mock run of a game before introducing it to Lisa, but tonight I was feeling feeling bold and decided to give it a go. Granted, I did read the rules a few times online before opening the physical book, so I had a decent idea of how the actual game flow works, but there is just nothing like having everything setup in front of you and actually going through the motions of each turn. Unfortunately after starting to read the rules I felt that maybe I should have done a mock game after all. The rules aren’t all the difficult to follow, there is just a good number of little details that cannot be missed. Mostly in how the points are scored…which is kind of important. So we powered through and got everything setup, re-read a few rules that weren’t clear initially and then started down the river.

The first few turns went without a hitch. Find a tile you like, move your pirogue, pick it up, do what it says to do and then start exploring…easy enough. I know that doesn’t sound all that fun, but it’s kind of neat thinking that you’re this explorer entering a lost temple looking for treasure. So thematically it works pretty well.

As the game progressed Lisa was very interested in collecting keys of each color, so as to not be blocked from entering doors. This strategy seemed to work well for her as she was ultimately able to get one more flag down than me. That was probably the difference in our final score.

Something I didn’t mention was the ability to collect treasures and deliver them for points. This was an interesting part of the game that we didn’t really take advantage of until later in the game. Especially after I got a card to give me +2 points for each treasure I delivered. Seeing that Lisa was able to move and place her flags anywhere on the board, I thought collecting/delivering treasures would be a good way to offset that. And it was, for the most part.

The end game came pretty quickly, but not before Lisa was able to get into the Golden Temple space with a secret passage card and get all 16 points. Unfortunately on my final turn I was not able to take advantage of the space because of my lack of a secret passages (no doors were connected it to the space). This gave her a pretty comm lead, but I had an ace up my sleeve. A pair of cards that gave me 12 points if I had both. Plus I thought I would be able to steal some of the alter spots with my hidden keys.

Sadly, I did not take as many alters as I hoped for and Lisa stayed just far enough ahead of me during final scoring. L: 145, I: 139.

(Photo by Hélio Andrade via BoardGameGeek.com)

The only thing that matters: was it FUN?

Yes, but not a resounding “yes”. More of a “hmm, that was a pretty fun game, we should definitely play again.” I do have a bit of a concern that it will feel a bit samey after a while, especially repeated plays with only 2 players. The tiles around the outside will always be the same, even though they will be in different order, the temple tiles are always going to be the same (as well as the alters). So the only real changes would be each player’s strategy obtaining points.

  • I can always get lots of keys in my camp (flipped over on my player board), so I can be the only one to receive points in alters at the end of the game?
  • Maybe I should collect a bunch of different cards in order to create combos during my exploration phase?
  • Or I could try to collect as many secret passages as I can in order to secure the special locations on the outside of the temple?
  • There are always treasures to collect and deliver. That might be a interesting strategy to undertake?

So there are definitely different ways to play each game, even if the board won’t look any different.

I’m happy it’s in my collection and that Lisa enjoyed playing it. Repeated plays will tell the real story for this one.

Fun factor: 7/10

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