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On Taluva, that South Seas island shrouded in secrecy, raw elemental powers prevail. Powerful volcanoes erupt, pouring their lava into the sea, forming a terrace-like jungle landscape.
Four groups try to establish themselves on this island. They search the jungle, beaches, and lakes, looking for the best places to build their huts, towers, and temples. They put their fate in the hands of their gods. Each player makes decisions on how the island grows and where his group builds their huts, towers, and temples.
At the end of the game, the temples are the most important for scoring.
It may be advantageous for a player to hasten the game end by building all of two kinds of buildings. But note: if a player cannot build on his turn, he must relinquish his dreams and withdraw.
It seems like there are countless tile laying games and the fact is, I find many boring and uninteresting to play. Perhaps one of the most well known, "Carcassonne", I've always hated because of not being able to immediately see whether a certain tile would fit here or there and I'd find myself laying the tile down to see if all the landscape types matched, only to realize that they didn't. and then start the whole process again each turn. So you can imagine my surprise after playing my first 2 player game of "Taluva."
WOW! Was the first thing that crossed my mind after that first game. Surprised at having such a reaction to a tile laying I began to try and figure out what makes "Taluva" so different.
First off, the titles are big and thick and beautifully designed with volcanoes and various other types of landscapes on them. In addition, this is a 3-D tile laying game that really comes to life as the game plays out. It actually feels like you're creating 3 dimensional villages with huts, temples and towers in the course of trying to win the game. It really is beautiful. Perhaps more importantly, when placing tiles with "Taluva", you can immediately see where and how tiles may be placed at a glance.
TALUVA - A Game For 2-4 Players
THE COMPONENTS: (What's in the box)
48) Volcano titles - consisting of 1 volcano and 2 landscape
4) Summary Cards
Each player starts out with 3 temples, 2 towers and 20 huts of a particular color. All of these are nicely made wooden bits. All the tiles are mixed and placed face down into a drawing stack(s). The starting player picks 1 face down tile, turns it over and the game begins.
A Player's Turn consists of two parts:
When placing a tile, there are one of two choices you can make.
To expand the landscape, you must place 1 tile directly on the table and at least one of it's edges must connect with at least 1 edge of a previously placed tile. Creating possible holes in the landscape is allowed.
To create a volcanic eruption, you place a volcano tile on top of already placed tiles. The following conditions must be met in order to do so:
The volcano space, must lie on top of a volcano space on an already placed tile. The placed volcano may not be flowing in the same direction as the volcano it's placed upon. As easier way of way of saying that, is to say that no two tiles may be stacked FLUSH on top of each other. The placed tile may not be placed on empty or non tile spaces.
Additional Covering Rules:
Part two of your moves consists of placing 1 or more houses.. Temples, Towers and Huts may only be placed on empty spaces and may not be placed on a volcano. Other house placement rules will depend on the house being placed.
HUTS - You may place 1 hut on any level one space. Note this is the only way to start a New Settlement.
TEMPLES - You may place 1 temple on any space, on any level, provided it's adjacent to a settlement what occupies a minimum of 3 spaces and have no other temples present..
TOWERS - You may place a Tower on any level 3 space or higher that's already adjacent to a settlement, which doesn't already have a Tower present.
Lastly you can expand an existing settlement, which is the only way to place more than 1 hut on a turn. You first must choose a settlement, then a particular terrain type you'd like to expand into and thus will be allowed to place huts in all such adjacent terrain types that are adjacent to the settlement chosen. Note that the level of the tile indicates how many huts may be placed on each terrain space, with any Level 1 space getting1 hut, Level 2 space, 2 huts, etc.
END OF GAME
The game ends at the end of a player's turn, when the last tile is placed. The player who's placed the most temples wins. If tied, the most towers win. If still tied, the most huts wins.
There are also 2 additional ways in which the game can end prematurely. Any player that uses up 2 out of their 3 types of houses, automatically wins the game. In addition, if a player can not place a house on their turn, they automatically lose and are out of the game, although their houses remain on the board.
THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
Playing "Taluva" is much easier than it is to explain and the 4 page instruction booklet does an excellent job of getting you up and running. Unlike many other tile laying games, where you find yourself trying to decide if a tile fits based on the surrounding tiles next to it, "Taluva" has no such problem. It's really tough to find fault with anything here. Nice components, great tiles, easy to play and nice to look at. Throw in the different ways it's possible to pull off a win and you have a game that's fun, challenging, and exciting to play. I guess that's why it's a MASTERPIECE!
NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine
In the South Pacific, four tribes vie for dominance on a geographically violent island. Each tribe searches for the best places to establish settlements and erect temples and towers to honor their gods. The island is fragile, with terrible volcanoes reshaping and changing the landscape, often devastating settlements in the process. The wise tribe will take advantage of the ever-changing terrain to claim new territory and establish control of the island.
Taluva is the creation of Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle, designer of such games as Attika, Meuterer and Verrater. It is essentially a tile-laying game, but tiles can be stacked, creating a landscape that expands both horizontally and vertically. The challenge is creating and noticing placement opportunities that will allow for the placement of huts, towers and temples.
Each player receives an assortment of huts, temples and towers. The objective is to be the first player to completely place the most temples at game’s end, and if that is tied, the most towers, and if that is still tied, the most huts. Alternatively, the player who constructs ALL of two of his three building types wins immediately. Otherwise, the game ends once all tiles are placed.
The four-dozen triangular tiles each depict three hexes with specific types of terrain on each hex, one of which is always a volcano. Each turn, a player places a tile to the board, making sure at least one side of the tile touches a previously placed tile. A tile may be placed on top of other tiles, observing a few placement rules. First, a volcano must be placed on top of another volcano, but the lava must be flowing in a different direction than the existing volcano. This rule prevents one tile from exactly covering a previously placed tile. Existing huts may be displaced, but an entire settlement – a connected group of buildings – cannot be destroyed. Further, a temple or tower cannot be covered, so the proper placement of these buildings can protect a settlement.
After placing a tile, the player must place one or more buildings onto a vacant hex, but these can be positioned on any tile. Buildings cannot be placed on volcanoes, and towers and temples can only be constructed in settlements without any other towers and temples present, respectively. There are further restrictions based on the type of building being constructed:
•Huts must initially be built on the first level.
• Towers must be erected at level 3 or higher, and must be adjacent to an existing settlement.
• Temples must be adjacent to an existing settlement.
A player is allowed to expand an existing settlement by adding new huts to it. A terrain type is selected, and all hexes containing that terrain that are adjacent to the chosen settlement receive new huts. The number of huts placed on a hex is equal to the level of that hex. So, a hex on the second level would receive two huts, while a hex located on a third level would receive three huts. By carefully placing tiles and choosing terrain types, numerous huts can often be placed, progressing a player towards achieving victory by depleting two types of buildings.
A major challenge in the game is placing tiles at higher levels in order to construct towers, as well as splitting existing settlements so that new temples can be erected without violating the temple placement rules. Developing a brand new settlement takes more time than dividing an existing one, so a wise player will seek opportunities to divide a settlement, allowing new temples or towers can be erected. This is certainly easier said than done, and requires careful planning.
The game does require a certain amount of visualization skills, as players must be able to discern favorable placement opportunities and work towards long-term goals. These plans can be upset by one’s opponents, but part of the challenge is in overcoming these obstacles. In these respects, Taulva reminds me a bit of a simplified version of Java, one of Wolfgang Kramer’s excellent designs. It is easier to play than Java, but it still requires considerable skill and foresight to play well.
Taluva packs quite a bit of skill, tension and strategy in less than an hour of playing time, and seems to play equally as well with three or four players. Games develop differently each time I’ve played, which keeps it fresh and challenging. While the game is accessible to all skill levels, experience counts, and it truly shines when played with a group of seasoned players. I always suspected a visit to the South Pacific would be fun, but I never dreamed it could be so challenging and tense!