Tzolk'in: a competitive resource-gathering-and-conversion puzzle


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Great pick and a fine review. I agree with this as an innovative worker placement/resource management game that is easier to pick up then many others in the genre. If this feels a little daunting to you other options I would recommend include Caylus and Pillars of the Earth. In the former you use workers to obtain resources in order to build work spaces that other players can use; however when they use them you get rewards. The game has various special neutral spaces that players can use in order to gain certain additional benefits and each player may also (should also) use their obtained resources to contribute to the construction of a castle for the benefit of the king. By doing so players gain points and bonuses (called favors) that become more robust as the game goes on. The game is a bit easier to get into than Tzolk’in because advanced planning is easier and the array of option somewhat more straight forward (some would say Caylus is fired by Lords of Waterdeep but I own both, play both and prefer Caylus).

The later has players bidding for turn order, then placing workers of various spaces in order to gain certain privileges, obtain certain resources and take specified actions. As in Caylus, the ultimate objective is to contribute to the construction of a central communal project, namely a cathedral. Again, advanced planning in Pillars of the Earth is easier than in Tzolk’in. However, Pillars has a unique action sequencing mechanic that adds a flare that I quite enjoy. Also, the privilege cards make for some fun and interesting game dynamics.

I am not bashing Tzolk’in, by any means, and can see it as a great entry into worker placement, but I just wanted to add a few other options that I have found to be a little more accessible. Another option that many people like very much but which I find to be a bit repetitive and flat is Stone Age, largely considered by many to be the ideal gateway worker placement game.

I do not know what a “Euro cube-pusher trope” is. Something from the worlds of Aztec fantasy author J.R.R. Tzolk’in?


I was surprised how much my house enjoyed Stone Age. Looking forward to playing Tzolk’in. I’ve been recommended Lords of Waterdeep, but hadn’t heard of Caylus. Thanks!

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now i’m imagining Snoop Dogg’s Lizzord of the Rizzings. Frizzodo and Gizzandolf tizzaking the rizzing to Mizzount Dizzoom…


Caylus is the grand-daddy of worker placement, and it shows. I find it a bit dry, though the foran mechanic is quite neat.

If you have casual board gaming friends, go for Waterdeep. Oodles of theme, and the expansions are much more cut-throat. I also like pushing people into the family rules variant of Agricola. Tzolk’in is pretty awesome though, too.


I can’t really disagree with LOW as an alternative to Caylus, especially for newer gamers. However, for whatever reason, Caylus gets many more plays in our house. One reason is probably theme, as my wife is not the biggest fantasy fan. The Skullport and Under Mountain expansions (to LOW) do add a great deal of player interaction, which I enjoy. I would actually characterize them as essential at this point.

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…doesn’t like the theme?!? What about with D&Deeples?

(A shameless plug, but germane!)

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Don’t get me started. The number of “discussions” we have had about her saying “I have three purple cubes” rather than “I have three mages” is exactly, too many. I know it is tedious of me, but come on sweetheart, they. are. mages.

Love the wooden DnDeeples, but never really felt the pull to get them. Really impressed with your printed ones. If I had a 3d Printer I would be all over that.

I will abstain from plugging myself (not really, but I will be a little oblique); however, I produce and co-host a Dice Tower Network podcast that focuses upon couple’s gaming and we reviewed LOW a while back and the discussion was pretty lively.


Oh wait, I just noticed my avatar. So… that was awkward.


Huge fan of Puerto Rico, especially the way that it separates resources used for building and resources used for claiming victory.

I’ve been interested in Puerto Rico, but my understanding is that it takes over an hour to read the damn rule book and explain the rules to everyone else. Has that been your experience?

If my friends were more hard-core gamers, that would be fine, but anything that takes more than 10-15 minutes to explain and 30-mins per player to play is a bit much for my group.

I guess it’s not trivial, but I’ve found that once someone knows the game, they can lead everyone else through one game pretty quickly, then everyone will have it.

Also, experience isn’t an enormous advantage in the game: once you basically understand what you’re doing, you’ll find that your intuition of a strategy translates pretty easily into a strategy.

You may want a timer handy if you have one of those guys who thinks he’s Kasparov playing out the possibilities 12 moves into the future.

I do love Tzolk’in, great game. One thing I love (but haven’t done myself) is how creative folks are when they decide to “pimp their game” by painting the gears.

Example (by timothée licitri, posted on Board Game Geek - visit their Tzolk’in gallery for plenty more examples)


i have 2 friends i don’t invite to games anymore because they refused to sit still long enough to learn FLUXX.

i will check out your podcast! my gf and I have just recently gotten into games, which is wonderful (i grew up on D&D, she did not). So far, we’ve gotten to play several FLUXX variants and Stone Age. I adore the chrononauts-variant Back to the Future game as well, but have only played once and don’t own (yet).

I am familiar with those people. Boo hiss.

Personally, I play Fluxx because my 9 year old loves it (and it’s his game). He also loves Catan and some others, but his younger brother has a tendency to become really needy and demanding if both his parents.sit down to play a game with big brother - and ‘you can be on my team’ only works so well at this point.

Another year or two and I think the younger one will be the power gamer of the house, but not just yet.

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I love the game, I’ve played it a lot and I think it’s great; I love the german-styled or european-style games; the first one I played was Die Siedler Von Catan and I can’t stop playin this kind of games since.

The only thing I want to say —being an obnoxious mexican prick— is that it is funny how everyone talks about the “mayan calendar” and uses the aztec calendar as an ilustration. Even in serious stuff. So yeah… this mayan themed game has aztec stuff on it. Just to note that aztec and mayan cultures are separeted geographically and historically.

Anyway, great game!


It looks like they’ve mixed cycloid with involute gears. The chatter is going to be terrible when it gets up over a few RPMs. :smile:

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