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In the deepest rain forests of Mexico, near the town of Palenque, stands the Mayan Sun temple. Here in 1995, the famous archaeologist and games expert Stefan Dorra, discovered the remains of an ancient game. He used these to reconstruct the game, probably last played around 1300 AD. The spaces on the board of Yucata' exactly match the ground plan of this renowned archaeological site. The pale and dark stones in the game represent good and evil influences, which the players seek to collect, or avoid. Probably Yucata' was played solely by Mayan priests, as part of their ancient rituals, but there aren't many Mayan priests around these days, so it's probably safe enough to play the game, without any risk of angering the Gods.
Average Rating: 4 in 1 review
There are two varieties of games: gamer's games and family games. Yucata is definitely a family game. It takes very little time to learn, but many games to master.
This is my second Steffan Dorra game (the other being Olympia 2000). I have noticed that while the games themselves have only a few simple, straghtforward rules, you don't really appreciate how much interplay there is until you've played them a few times.
In Yucata, the idea is to move around a one-track board collecting scoring stones. Brown ones count as points in your favor. Blue ones subtract points in an incremental fashion. The red one cancels one blue stone. You move around the board by playing one of seven different cards. Five are numbered 1 - 5. One is a question mark that lets you repeat the move of the last card you played. One is a dagger that lets you jump one square in front of the lead player. The only rule for cards is that you can not play the same card as the person in front of you unless it is the last card in your hand. When everyone is out of cards, you pick up your pile of cards and play them again until someone gets to the end of the track. No one is ever really out of the game until the end.
Once again, having taught this game to my parents, I have started a losing streak at it, finishing with -2 points in the first two games (yes, it is very possible). You would think that the strategy would be simple enough, but trying to remember what cards everyone else has played can be tough, as can trying to position yourself to take as many brown stones as you can without taking the blue ones. For a simple design, there is much to think about, and yet the game plays quickly (20 - 30 minutes per round). There are about a dozen different layouts as well, with illustrations in the German rules and explanations in the English translation. The cards, board, and players' tokens have a decidedly early Latin American feel to them. The stones are solid without being heavy.
I think this could well be an enjoyable family game. It is certainly not as deep as a true gamer's game, but the elements make it interesting and worth a look for those who enjoy light fare.