(BGG images by user manowarplayer)
These temples are remnants of the ancient Maya civilization. The site flourished between 200 and 900 AD, and was one of the major cultural and population centers for the Mayas. Constant archaeological excavations are going on, and only a fraction of what is believed to be there has been uncovered. The name of the site, and the game, is Tikal.
(BGG image by user samoan_jo)
Tikal is a game for 2-4 players, co-designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. It was published in 1999, and came to the US through Rio Grande. It won the Spiel des Jahres award in 1999. The game is the first in a series called the mask trilogy, referring to the masks on the cover of each - Java came out in 2000 and Mexica in 2002. In Tikal, you lead a team of explorers into the jungle to discover lost temples and to find treasure. On each turn, you will be flipping over a tile and exposing another part of the jungle.
(BGG image by user Casulo)
Each player will get two triangular tents, signifying their camps. They will also get 18 small cylinders, signifying their explorers, and one large cylinder, signifying their leader. The leader is worth 3 explorers. You'll also have a cube for the scoring track. Also shown in the above picture is a marker for each player, to be used in an auction variant that I won't talk about - you know me and auctions.
Also included in the game are 24 treasure wafers. There are eight different types of treasures, and three of each type. During scoring, you get one point for having one of a treasure type, three for having two, and six for having the full set. There are 48 temple tiles, with number 2-10. These temple tiles get smaller as the numbers go up, and will be used for excavating more of the temples and scoring more points. Additionally, is a gameboard representing the jungle with spaces for the 36 hexagonal tiles.
(BGG image by user boenke)
This is the starting area for the board. You've got your base camp, then two temples with value one and an empty area. All other spaces are covered with trees. The first thing you will do on your turn is draw a tile and place it in one of the hexagonal shapes. It needs to be placed so that it is accessible from an adjacent spot. If you look in the above picture, you'll see that on some of the hex edges, there are rectangular stones. If there is at least one stone, then it will be accessible. During the second phase of the game, you'll have ten points to spend on various actions, which I'll get into later. The number of stones between two hexes equals the number of movement points it takes to get there. So, to get from base camp to either temple costs two points. To get from base camp to the empty space costs one point. There are no stones between the empty space and either temple, meaning that you cannot move from that space to a temple - it is impassable. When placing your tile, it must be touching one of the existing spaces on the board such that there is at least one stone on at least one edge. Therefore, any side of any tile can be placed next to any of the above spaces, since all edges have one stone facing the jungle.
(BGG images by user duchamp)
These are the tiles to be used. The first thing you'll notice is that they are organized according to letters A-G. Each set is mixed up within that set, then stacked face down so that A is on top and G is on bottom, with B-F in order between. This provides some structure to the games, as well as an element of randomness. You'll notice that each set contains some empty spaces, some treasure circles, and some temples. The empty spaces do nothing. The treasure circles have 2-4 icons within them. When a treasure circle gets placed, you'll place a number of treasure wafers on the tile according to the number shown. You'll be able to claim these later.
The temple tiles have numbers on them. These are the initial point values of the tiles, as long as someone controls them during scoring. Also, in B, D, and F, you see a volcano. When this tile is drawn, a scoring round is triggered. I'll get into that in a bit.
Notice that all tiles have stones at at least one of he edges, but a few of them have more than one stone. You count each one of them when spending points.
(BGG image by user matthew.marquand)
After the tile has been placed, the active player has ten points to spend on various actions. You get a reference card, as seen above, but the icons aren't tremendously clear. That's why I'm here.
- You can spend one point to place one of your workers into one of your camps. This includes base camp, and other camps you may build as the game progresses. You may also use one point to move your worker between camps.
- To move your worker around, you must spend one point for every stone it crosses. Remember that passages with no stones are impassable.
- You may spend two points to uncover a new level of a temple. You must have at least one worker present at the temple when you do this. Look at what number is on top at the temple, then grab a tile with the next number up to place on top. The temple is worth more points this way. If the next numbered tile is unavailable, you can't do this. You can add as many layers as you want in your turn, up to 5 (since you only have 10 points).
- You may spend three points to excavate a treasure token. At a treasure circle where you have a worker, take the top treasure and place it face up in front of you. You may take one treasure for each worker at a site, and you can only take two per turn.
- Because you get more points from collecting sets of treasures, you may spend three points to swap tiles with another player. If they have one you want, you can give them one of your tokens for that one. You can only do this if the tile you want to take is not part of a pair or a set, it has to be a loner. If I draw a green mask, and you have two, I can't swap a gold necklace for one of your green masks. I may want to swap the green mask with someone else so you'll steal from them instead of me.
- You can spend five points to take one of your tent markers and establish a camp somewhere in the jungle. It must be on an empty tile or on a treasure tile that has had all treasure removed. Once the camp is established, you can add workers from off the board or move any workers from another of your camps for one point each.
- You can also spend five points to appoint a guard over a temple. This will insure that no one can swoop in and take the temple from you, but it also means that the temple will not be added to anymore. You must control the temple in order to place a guard. This means that you must have more workers at the site than anyone else. If you place a guard on the temple, one worker goes on top of the tiles to show everyone that it's yours. Any other of your workers that were there get removed from the game. If any other players are there as well, they stay in the game, but they'll want to move as the temple is now worthless to them.
(BGG image by user Nodens77)
After a player has spent all ten points, play proceeds to the left.
Now, scoring. When a volcano tile is drawn, the active player sets it aside. They get ten points to spend as usual, and at the end of those points, they score immediately. The top tile on any temple they control shows how many points they get, plus they add their treasure points - 1 for a single, 3 for a double, 6 for a triple. Advance the scoring marker around the track accordingly. After each player has spent their points, then scored, the active player places the volcano tile adjacent to any other tile already on the board. It's important to note that no volcano tile has any stones on it. That's because the tile itself is impassable. You cannot (and probably don't want to) enter that area.
After the active player places the volcano, play proceeds normally, with the active player spending ten points and passing play on.
(BGG image by user wcordewiner)
After the final turn, each player gets ten final points to spend as they wish, after which they score again. In all, this means that there are four scoring rounds in the game. After the fourth, whoever has the most points wins.
Read more at BGG. The game will cost you around $45 in an FLGS.
We hope you enjoyed your visit to Tikal. Next time, us for a venture to the other side of the world. Happy gaming!