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By Dan Zuccarelli | May 20, 2011 |

Raid temples for treasure in Tikal, the digital adaptation of the popular board game

We’ve been saying it for awhile now, but the iPad is almost a required device for board game fans. Slowly but surely we’re seeing the big board game hits make their way over to it. In addition to classics like Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride we’re getting less known but just as respected games like Small World and now... Tikal.

The storyline here is that the players take on the roles of competing teams of treasure hunters scouring the land of Tikal for, you guessed it, treasure. You’ll excavate and search temples and set up various expeditions as you place hex tiles on the map. It’s similar in theory to something like Settlers of Catan where worker placement is key.

Tikal

The turns are pretty easy to understand once you see it in action a bit. You’ll place a hex tile somewhere on the map and then have a certain amount of action points you can spend to take different actions on the island. You can do things like search a temple, place workers or move camp. I enjoyed the concept of placing a worker on a temple to block other players from accessing it and scoring points from it.

In an interesting twist there are moments of scoring in the middle of a round, so multiple players can benefit from identical temples, since player 1 can score from it and then player 2 can take it over on their turn. Like the aforementioned Settlers of Catan, this game is very very “Euro,” and if you don’t dig the worker placement type of game there’s a real good chance you’re not going to enjoy Tikal at all.

The game has been ported well to the iOS platform, and the interface is clear and easy to understand. The game doesn’t use the art from the original print version of the game, but what they’ve come up with here looks really nice. Everything fits together well and pushes the expedition theme along nicely. I would have liked to see an interactive tutorial, since I really thing that’s the best way to learn these games, but the rules section is comprehensive so the info is there if you want it.

Tikal

However, the online multiplayer is, to put it VERY nicely, shaky at best. Sometimes it worked ok, but most of the time it would hang and disconnect or just crash the app altogether. It was pretty trying on my patience, and after some follow up internet searching it would seem I’m nowhere near alone in my experiences. Hopefully we’ll see an update to fix this, but until then, if you’d like to play online you may want to wait a bit before buying. A shame, because ultimately that’s my only complaint.

The board game march on the App Store continues, and I for one could not be happier about it. The games are leagues cheaper than their analog counterparts, and AI and multiplayer (when it works) means I’ll always be able to have someone, or something, to play against. While Tikal isn’t the best of the iOS board games (in my opinion that’s still Small World), it’s a game I enjoyed my time with and is easily worth the money.

Pros:

  • Easy to pick up and understand, but offers deep strategy.

Cons:

  • Multiplayer is broken leading to constant disconnects and app crashes.

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