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Das Gold der Maya
Your Price: $39.95
(Worth 3,995 Funagain Points!)
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Players: 2 - 4
Time: 45 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
Weight: 1,364 grams
Language Requirements: Game components contain some foreign text, possibly requiring occasional reference to rules translation. An English translation of the rules is provided.
I must admit to buying this game on the strength that it was published by Kosmos and the fact that it was in a sale at 10 pounds instead of 19, surely a case of wallet ruling head if ever there was one.
Components consist of:
- 30 segments of a circle in 3 different sizes of one-eighth; one-sixth; and one-quarter circle
- 4 large dinner-plate size circular boards on which players will place their segments
- 40 Glass beads, 10 of which are distributed to each player at the start of the game
- 4 shields, 1 for each player to use to hide their beads
- 1 auction board onto which 3 segments will be placed for auction
- 1 Cloth bag to contain the segments prior to auction.
The purpose of the game is to bid beads to obtain the segment being auctioned in order to place it on your collection plate. The segments are double-sided and each side depicts one of the five materials of Gold; Silver; Bronze; Jade or Stone but players do not get to see the other side until they have bought it. There are restrictions on which materials can be placed next to each other and these are depicted on a table on the back of each player's shield. Each material has a value ranging from Gold at 4 down to Stone at zero.
After each auction the 2 remaining segments on the auction board move up one place and a new segment is drawn from the cloth bag and placed in position 3.
Play continues in this way until the last segment has been auctioned and placed and then each player's collection plate is scored according to the materials contained within it which is then added to the number of beads held to give a final total. Highest total wins.
So how does it play? Not very well in my opinion. The bidding is of the 'in the fist' variety so there is a little bit of outguessing going on; you can see which of your opponents are keen on the segment on offer. One twist on the auction is that the winning player pays the beads to the player who bid the least in the auction, providing they have bid at least 1. If there is a tie for the winning bid they cancel each other out and the next highest bid wins. Once again the lowest bid receives the beads. If there is a tie for lowest bid the winner of the auction decides which player gets the beads. If all bids are the same the segment is removed from play and all bids are returned.
As beads count towards the final score it could be argued that the results of the auctions have a certain influence but I subscribe to the theory that as you can see which players are going to really want the segment on offer it's really straightforward and not very stimulating.
One other slight twist is that for each front side of a segment there is a corresponding entry on the reverse in one of two known materials (e.g Silver front side will have either Gold or Bronze on the reverse side). The player winning the segment can place it on the collection plate on the side of their choosing. This means that a player could gamble on the reverse side being suitable for their collection. Players can also rearrange their segments providing they are legal combinations of materials that go together.
The only other thing to consider is whether the shape of the segment suits your collection. If you've collected 3 'one-sixth' segments so far you could complete your circle with 2 'one-quarter' segments but you would then only have 5 segments scoring in the final reckoning. Is it better to wait for the other 3 one-sixths to come up and bid for them? What if the other players outbid you? Do you go instead for 4 'one eighths' to complete the task? What if they are in materials that don't match your requirements or in the lower scoring materials of Stone and Jade, you won't make such a large score anyway. This does at least provide a little cerebral exercise.
At 45 minutes the game doesn't take too long to complete so it could be used as a filler. I'm surprised that Kosmos published this game as I don't quite see it fitting into the gamers' section; perhaps it was aimed at the family market as the box states that it is for players about 10 years of age. Not one to recommend to other readers.