We have always liked heavy board games and a lot of people have recommended Tawantinsuyu for a while now as it being the most heavy board game there is. We were happy to get our hands on it! Until today, Tomasz still cannot pronounce the name correctly and I must admit, it took me some practice to. But since the theme is the Inca Empire, we couldn’t wait to start playing. We both love history and are always happy to see a historian theme in a board game.

How to Play.

Tawantinsuyu has a lot of depth and actions you can choose during your turn. The rulebook because of this also has a lot of information to go trough. I will name as much as I can, but for any in depth questions or details, look up the rulebook of the game as I will not name everything. The setup for this game also have many steps and components that are well explained in the rulebook with pictures. I recommend to take a look at those steps for the full setup.

On your turn, you will place one of your workers on an empty space on the map and pay the cost. If you place your worker on a lower level, it will be more expensive and you will have to pay more potatoes, corn or gold since gold is a wild resource that can be exchanged for everything. You also have to pay more if you place your worker in different segments then your high priest. Each space also has a god symbol printed on it. If you have any god cards in your hand (you start with a couple of them during setup). In order to place a worker, you need to have a matching symbol on your god card to be able to place the worker. You can also spend one gold. If you place your worker, you can perform the tasks surrounding your worker. You can automatically perform one task just for placing your worker, if there are any more workers in the same color in adjacent spaces, you receive one more free task. Some types of workers also have special abilities that can grant them extra tasks or resources for example.

There are quite a few tasks you can perform when placing a worker. One of them is simply collecting resources like potatoes, corn, stone or even gold. You can also build a stairs if you have three stone. Once a stairs is build, it will cost less for your workers to descent and each time an opponent uses your stairs, you will receive some gold. Constructing a building is also a possible task. You can choose one of the faceup building tiles to construct and have to pay the cost in the top right corner. In return, the buildings can provide you with resources or victory points and even ongoing abilities like gaining task or rewards for example. The statue icon means you can build a statue for stone and gold in order to receive victory points. If you build a statue that also matches the benefits on a played god cards, you may also receive the benefits described on that card. In the game you also have options to buy weavings in order to create a big tapestry. The goal of this is to create a tapestry with as many different weavings as possible in order to receive victory points in the end of the game. Lastly, you can visit the market. If you have a lot of matching symbols on your weavings, like two connecting potatoes on weavings endings for example, you may take the resources that match as your reward.

Instead of placing your workers, you may choose two different secondary actions on your turn. You can move your high priest one or two steps (sections) making it easier to place workers in other sections. You also gain one gold. Each other player may also move their priest when this is activated, but they won’t receive gold. If you have build statues, you may also discard those as a secondary action to progress on the temple. You can also progress by making an offering and spending corn to take steps. The temple can give you resources for every step you take on the track. If you don’t like the current face up buildings or army cards, you can choose to rejuvenate. This allows you to flip one card for free face up. Any card you want to flip next, will cost you one food. another secondary action is to start a conquest. If you have the necessary army cards, you can claim one conquest space and gain the rewards of that space. This can give you resources or victory points for example. If you don’t have army cards, you have the option to perform training as secondary action, allowing you to draw two army cards and choose one. If you choose to pray, you may take two god cards from the face up pile, or from the deck. Lastly if you have any constructed buildings, you can produce. You will then receive the benefits on all of your face up buildings. Each building you choose to use, will have to be flipped down.

You start the game with two workers in your supply, which is also the maximum of workers you can have at the end of the round. At the end of your turn, you can choose to recruit more workers from the village for a potato or a corn. However, when the village is empty at the end of your turn, a festival is triggered. The festival allows each player to already score some victory points based on certain tracks or gain possible resources. The rulebook explain the steps to take in each festival very well. The festival will take place three times. After the third and last festival took place, you can move on to the final scoring. The rulebook shows perfectly how to count each resource. The player with the most victory points wins the game.

Playthrough of the game.

We have played heavy games before, but this was definitely a hell of a ride. Even the unboxing revealed already so many components in this game and when reading the rulebook we understood why so many people recommended this game to us. I won’t lie, the first game was overwhelming a lot. You have so many things to choose from, to remind yourself of and also so many different ways to win. With me being a very indecisive person, there was one moment in our first game where I was negotiating with myself whether I would place a stairs, or build a building with a similar skill. When I had made my decision in silence, I saw that Tomasz was apparently already for over ten minutes in the kitchen, preparing some snacks and drinks because I couldn’t make up my mind. Maybe I got sucked in to much. But I promise, the more you play it, the easier it gets! Our advice is to just go along with the game and see where it gets you. After a few rounds, you can start to see what will benefit you the most.

Let’s start with how perfect the rulebook is. There is a lot going on and the rulebook explains everything really well, often with pictures and examples for each step. There are also big and clear reference cards added to remind you of all the actions you can choose and the most important information. The components are also of good quality and we found that they make a big empty game board (in the beginning of the game) a lot nicer through the game. Those tiny stairs for example really make a difference. The theme also fits really well and the designers really thought the tasks and actions trough. Each game will also be completely different since each color worker has it’s own abilities, you get random god cards, random buildings with abilities and many more things. The replayability because of this is almost endless. Be prepared though with more players to sit for a longer period of time, especially if you play with overthinkers.

Final thoughts.

Tawantinsuyu is a very heavy strategic board game where you can choose many different actions in order to win with the most victory points at the end of the game. The rulebook is very good written and the reference sheets also help to remind you of all the different actions and most important information in the game. This game is certainly not for everyone because of all the in game depth. But if you like a challenge and are an expert in planning the best strategies, this game is for you. This game is not easy to learn and will take more plays to master. But once you do master it, it feels very rewarding. The game will be completely different each time you play because of various random factors in the game, it will never be boring. Since we like heavy games, we also love this game and are happy to have one of the heaviest board games we have every played in our collection.

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