Review: Tikal II – The Lost Temple – finding hidden treasures
When I first saw it, my heart stopped. Three years of searching and wandering in the jungle. Every day, we risked our lives in a society of sharply poisonous snakes, spiders and mosquitoes carrying many diseases. Fifteen members of the expedition were left behind and only last five of us remain. Many have wanted to return, but we still continued, hunted small animals and roasted them over a fire at night. We were crunching small insects, whenever hunting failed. We would do anything to survive.
And finally, we have reached our destination. We already lost all real hope, we will ever see it, because the day after tomorrow, we had a rendezvous spot with a helicopter on a nearby plateau. We also gave up. Our expedition could be over, but today we found out, that this is actually just the beginning! Lost Temple is right in front of us. I’m trying to quietly watch the other four members. Over the years, things happened we are not proud of, but it must be me, who will find most rare items in the rooms! Its time to become a sole survivor of our expedition!
Welcome to the board game Tikal II. First, we should shift forward by one year regarding our story. The temple was discovered, but noone was able to find four of those five scientists, who found it. Now part of it is already exposed and other places are under excavation. And at this moment, you arrive at the place with your colleagues to discover the rest of the room and find some really valuable archaeological objects.
With this knowledge, we can now look at a large oblong box with a view of the temple on the lid. Underneath, there is fortunately a lot of space, which can accommodate the entire temple and yet all the treasures and archaeological tools. As the first blow, however, you will be hit by folded game board. There is a temple located on plateau with twenty-seven rooms and also several places for storage.
Around it revolves not only wall serving as a scoring scale, but also the river, which you will sail down with the pirogue. On the shore, there will be inventory items, you will need for your research. In addition to these square tokens, there can be also found several cards with benefits inside the box.
But you will punch out much more tiles out of cardboard, than you would believe. There are round tokens of keys and treasures, three types of rooms for the temple (bright, dark and treasure rooms). Individual players will obtain their own camp, which has its own storage room. In addition to board, there is also a large tent token, that identifies and clearly indicates not only the player’s color, but also a one-shot advantage.
These colors can be found also on something even better – miniatures. A single character shows, how you will look in the game – an explorer. In the same color travels with him also chest full of equipment, a pirogue and twenty small flags. At the beginning of each game, player takes all those pieces together and thus also determines the color, he will have during the game.
In addition, one obtains also player board and tent of matching colors. His explorer stands at the start near entrance to the temple, boat lays on the beach, which is occupied on zero number with the help of player chests.
And now is the time to prepare a common game space. At the beginning, you take six dark rooms (shrines), shuffle them and lay a treasure room beneath. Then simply put the whole pile in the upper left corner of the board with pictures up, so you will always know, what is waiting to be discovered in the next turn. Next, you create a pile of secret passage tokens, 13 special cards, 25 treasure tokens and ten bright rooms.
Treasure symbols will be marked with a randomly rotated disc, specifying one value for each of the five symbols. Then there are keys on five stacks of seven sorted by color and symbol. According to number of players, you put a square action tiles in six spaces on the river. Players will be able to pick them up with their pirogue. This whole preparation seems a little bit complicated both in the text and on the pictures, but in fact its easy to set it all up, because it’s all just stir-fold actions.
The entire game takes place in two months, that are represented as two big rounds in the game. Each of them, however, are subdivided into a larger number of moves. In the course, you will be exploring the temple and search it for valuable items. Each move has two phases and before you get to move into a new room inside the temple, you first have to visit one of the places on the river with your boat and acquire a special token.
The pirogue can only move in the direction, where the river flow (clockwise) and each turn you can move a maximum of five steps forward. In addition, each passing through the woods on top of the board will cost you one key. This ends each lap around the board and limits your speed around, so you have to be really careful with the boat movement.
Once you pick up such an action piece, you immediately evaluate its effect and put it on your board. Each of these little tiles has some action printed and it is up to you, which one will you really use. The choice is to gain treasure cards, but also discover new rooms and secret passages. Very important are the keys, which can be acquired and used in two ways. But you have to decide right now – either you put it into your camp and get points for it in the future or you plug the key into your backpack. You can then use them later to pass through the forest with pirogue, but you also need to have these keys in your bag for passing through same colored doors in temple. And its full of locked doors.
Now movement with your character is the second phase of the turn and is not limited by the number of steps and rooms, you can go through. The only limiting element are the keys, you carry with you. Without a proper key in the same color, you can not walk through locked door. You can simply go round, but only through discovered rooms. Each obstacle gradually decreases your chance to get somewhere. This is a reason, why you try to have every key, but remember – they are needed for other stuff too. Your movement should always end up in a place, where you do not have a flag of your color.
The non-presence of the flag in the room means, you have still not carried out the survey here. This is the second part of the explorer phase. Each room at the temple has some positions in it, that will bring you victory points and possibly even advantage cards. At this point, you have a chance to put your flag on one empty slot and immediately get its proper reward.
But in addition, you get points for the flag itself and its position. So it is worth adding a flag even in rooms, where there are no more free slots with reward. This can easily happen even though each player can have just one flag in a room. Immediately after playing it, you can note extra points for every door in this room, plus points for every door of the same color in other rooms, where you already have your flag.
During the game, you can use secret passages in walls or access a small (a high valued) room outside the temple. Each shrine in addition also contains a treasure, you can find and has no direct value in victory points. Instead, you are supposed to load it on a boat and when you pass with your pirogue around one of the aircrafts on the river, you can use it to transfer any number of treasures you collected. You get points for them according to their type and price, as currently shown by the disc with numbers. It is immediately after that rotated one step clockwise, so prices are changing as time goes by.
Once per turn, you can turn around your tent for an additional special action, that allows you to get a key or make a second research with your scientist. The first round ends, when action tiles on the river run out and its followed by first scoring. You get rewards for the collected keys (in the camp, not backpack) and also explored altars in the temple.
The second round is the same, but at its start, you turn your tent again with key side up and above it, you move it to the right from your camp. Round changed and players exchanged order, thus their order will be rotating other way around the table. Once you have finished the second round, players are awarded points for their keys, undelivered treasures and especially special cards. The player, who accumulated the most points after counting all the rewards, is the winner.
Tikal II: The Lost Temple is a very interesting and quite advanced game, that provides a clean and clear progress. This enables easy learning surprisingly even for less experienced players and they will experience a lot of interesting situations and especially decision-making in it. There are several paths to victory points and you must find just the right mix to become the best explorer of ancient tombs.
The basis of success in the game is the right choice of routes through the temple, because you must always use locked doors. Other connections of hexagonal room tiles are walls, which you cannot go through easily. The location and angle of these room tiles is decided by players themselves as a result of action tokens found (at that time, you will be placing a new room). Selection of a room to visit can have a big impact on the number of points obtained. You should try to specialize in certain colors, so they award you with more points for putting a flag, because of same door scoring.
The game is not as variable as it could. All the pieces forming the temple are ordered randomly, which increases replayability a little. Game area looks and explores different each time. And you must adapt to it. But the action tiles are always in the same composition only arranged differently, so you have the same selection every time. But fortunately, this does not reduce so much fun, as it may seem.
Many players have complained about the first Tikal, that there are big differences in the experience according to number of players involved in the game. Designers succeeded in the case of Tikal II and tuned the game, so its fun even in two player match. Game time in this case will move slightly over one hour.
Until the end of the game, you simply do not know, who will win in the end. And this is quite a rare property in these games, usually signifying thoroughness of the authors. You will not find nothing new or unique about the mechanism itself. Instead, you get fairly processed game with everything working as you would expect. And thanks to the already mentioned simplicity, it becomes also a good choice as an entry into the world of game board games, which also pleases the eye.
But according to our experience, Tikal II game is really fun as we enjoyed playing it. It may be partly caused by the fact, that we know the original game only by hearsay. So we can not compare those two and we did not have some exaggerated expectations, as many other players did (based on forums). The main reason for our good impressions will be enough decision making each turn, which is associated not only with the action tiles, but deciding where to move your archaeologist.
Graphic processing is polished to excellent. All illustrations are detailed and everything fits theme perfectly. If it was not for that ever-present thought, maybe you will feel for a moment like Indiana Jones. But this is the responsibility of other games, for example The Adventurers. Here is the main component pretty invisible to plain sight – its your brain.
Tikal II: The Lost Temple is probably not, what a lot from the players expected. Its not a hit, but only well made fun game. But it is hard to repeat the success in the same spirit and that is why we think, that even as such, Tikal II definitely deserves attention. This is mainly due to the brilliant way of exploring temple rooms and the pleasant, though quite peaceful, atmosphere.
Review: Tikal II – The Lost Temple – finding hidden treasures
Tikal II: The Lost Temple is an absolutely different game, than the first. And it succeeds in improving all those places, about which players complained in original Tikal. The most important for many will be really fun two players game. Whole game depends on a random placement of tiles, but players have same chances to getting their hands on everything. Action tokens are scattered across floating river, you are collecting them with your pirogue and using their abilities. But the most important is job of treasure hunters, who explore inner side of the temple and use keys found to get even deeper, behind those colored doors. Players get points for occupying rooms with their flags, which is bound to number of same colored doors. This makes a very interesting mechanic, which brings constant confrontation into the game. Game is balanced and you have chances fully under control of your choices, but this is also the main reason, why they start to repeat after few plays. Tikal II: The Lost Temple is fun game for adventurers, fans of really goodlooking games and thinking. Only with this game can you surpass ingenious traps of builders and drown your sorrow in their golden treasure rooms..
Reader Rating0 Votes
excellently balanced strategic game
interesting mechanic of color keys
players use boats to get action tokens, but they must sail slowly
great even with two players
you do not know winner until the very end
in the end a little distant to theme of temple exloration