Review: Coatl – how to tame a feathered snake

I had a vision last night. A came to me and I could see it from all sides. I have no doubt for a moment that this is a sign. I already know that the gods chose me and that I don’t have to worry about tomorrow in the competition. So I can use my knowledge of the serpent’s body in peace and create a portrait for God that I will not have to be ashamed of.

The board game Coatl invites players to the Aztec world, where the snake deity rules. It was created by the designer duo and . It was provided with unique illustrations by and the game was originally published by in Canada.

We can already see the head of the title snake Coatl on the lid. Inside, players will see a round supply panel that has a scoring scale on the other side for the end of the game. Players place the board in the middle of the table and fill the shaded squares randomly from the canvas bag with drawn parts of the snake, whether they are colored heads in the middle or body parts around the perimeter. From the cards of prophecy, he creates a menu of six cards. More than a hundred pieces of the body are then scattered into three bags, which are marked with symbols so that it is clear which supplies belong where (head, body and tail).

Each player chooses a color, receives a panel and a set of victim tokens. They also get one temple card at a time and place the rest in the middle. Depending on the order, they will also receive several random prophecy cards from the shuffled deck.

As soon as the player gets a turn, he chooses a coatl of the body part from the common menu on the board – he can take one head, one tail or two body pieces that share the chosen square. Only if there is an empty area for specific parts of the snake, players will complete them by drawing lots from the corresponding canvas bag.

Before the player gets a chance to place a new piece, he chooses a card from the common prophecy menu (or draws the top card from the deck). Then the player’s attention is focused on his plan, where he can build his coatla. He can thus arbitrarily add pieces to the already under construction statue or he can start a new one, but he must never have more than two unfinished coatls (without head and tail).

The result of his efforts are statues of a snake god, with the help of which the player can fulfill the cards of the prophecy he has in his hand. It simply needs to meet their conditions, which refer to the position of some parts of the body or even the length of the whole snake. If the player’s work meets the requirements, he can lay the card in front of him and immediately credit the points listed on the card. The maximum is four prophecies per coatl, but before it can be completed, the player must use the character to score at least one card.

The game comes to an end when one of the opponents completes his third coatl or when one of the bags runs out of pieces. Players still have a chance to use one round and complete their plans. It’s time for scoring, so players turn the board together and, with the help of a piece in their color, gradually score their coatls with respect to the prophecies and temple they received. He who has the most points in total becomes the most popular worshiper of this god.

Coatl is a beautifully crafted game that targets beginners and families. The authors took a guaranteed recipe with drawing cards and creating patterns that have actually been used in games for beginners since the days of , and transformed them into another game with secret tasks.

Nevertheless, this game is a bit more complex, because there are a number of different task cards in the game, and in addition to these prophecies, there are also long-term goals in the form of one temple for each. These two layers of collecting points mean that there is never anything clear ahead. In general, however, it is again a matter of players subjecting the selection of pieces from the common menu (which is beautifully wide, although again often depends on the colors) to the effective and correct construction of a feathered snake.

Players usually know what others are up to. The exceptions are those at the beginning and those that someone licks blindly from the package. This can be part of the tactic, either because none of the six on offer suits you, or because you just want to surprise your opponent.

The mechanisms of the game are really easy to remember. Anyone can play it, surprisingly, as soon as he finds another player with him. Coatl is great in pairs, although he easily likes a higher number of players. You just have to come to terms with the fact that there is virtually no conflict in the game other than indirectly influencing your opponents‘ chances.

Only some moves are a little empty, because nothing can be completed. However, players are not allowed to take pieces that they cannot attach to their snake, which sometimes presents great challenges, because the most important parts of the body are always in random pairs.

You may not be able to complete your snake by the end of the game. Then, of course, there is disappointment, because not all cards and their scoring can be used so well. On the other hand, it is necessary to take into account the time of the game, which is ideally around forty minutes.

The workmanship is wonderful and creating a snake on the table is a real pleasure. Everything is complemented by nice cloth bags and illustrated cards. It’s just a bit of a pity that the pieces for the construction of the statue are not double-sided, which slows down its construction a bit. Or you can come to terms with the worse visuals of the built figure if you connect part of the snake with the leaky side up.

Coatl is a game that deals with colors, patterns and their connection according to tasks. This is similar to the recently reviewed and popular game Reef. And like this innovation, Coatl does everything great to offer really great family fun. Although there is little room for improvement, in general it is mainly details that do not have such a significant effect on the gameplay. It remains excellent mainly due to its simplicity and game time. Coatl has pleased us and will make you happy too.

DesignerEtienne Dubois-Roy, Pascale Brassard
ArtistSillyJellie
PublisherSynapses Games, ADC Blackfire Entertainment, HeidelBÄR Games
Year Published2020
# of Players1 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4 players
(16 voters)
Playing Time60
Mfg Suggested Ages10 and up
User Suggested Ages8 and up
(3 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(3 voters)
CategoryAbstract Strategy, Puzzle
MechanicContracts, Hand Management, Pattern Building, Set Collection
FamilyComponents: 3-Dimensional (3D), Theme: Aztecs
Primary NameCóatl

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Coatl – how to tame a feathered snake
Final word
Coatl is a game for less demanding players because it offers no complex rules. But on the other hand, it contains enough scoring options to keep it interesting for most of us. Especially when we consider the short game time and interesting secret tasks that each participant builds up during the game. Connecting the pieces to the figure of a feathered snake looks aesthetically beautiful and the whole thing is a joy to play. Coatl is a great and colorful game that even members of the Aztec civilization would certainly not despise.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
+ great visuals
+ simplicity of rules
+ accessible to all
+ game time
+ excellent in two
+ more scoring options
+ secret tasks
Cons
= no real conflict
= joining the pieces spoils the one-sidedness of the snake parts
= some moves there is nothing to do
4.2
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