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English language edition

List Price: $44.95
Your Price: $35.99
(20% savings!)
(Worth 3,599 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 90 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer

Manufacturer(s): Abacus, Rio Grande Games

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Product Description

Each player is the director of an expedition intent on exploring Tikal in search of the secret paths that lead to the temples and precious treasures that have remained hidden for over 1000 years. A player receives points during four scoring rounds for each recovered treasure and for each temple that he controls. But, both temples and treasures can change hands. The expedition that earns the most points exploring Tikal wins the game.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Strategy Game, 2000
International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game, 2000
Deutscher Spiele Preis
1st place, 1999
Spiel des Jahres
Game of the Year, 1999

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer

  • Manufacturer(s): Abacus, Rio Grande Games

  • Year: 2005

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 90 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Est. time to learn: 20-30 minutes

  • Weight: 1,690 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English). This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 1 game board
  • 36 terrain hexagons
  • 24 treasure wafers
  • 48 square temple tiles
  • 4 expedition leaders
  • 72 expedition workers
  • 8 camps
  • 4 scoring markers
  • 4 rule summary cards
  • 4 turn indicators
  • rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 44 reviews

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by John M.
A well balanced game suitable for expansions.
January 17, 2007

Ok, this game is a Spiel Des Jahres game of the year winner from 1999, the same year my Camaro was built, and rightfully so (the game not my Camaro). This game is AWESOME! But, it is also not for the initiate gamer, or the timid. This will make the third review I've made of a Spiel Des Jahres game of the year winner from 1999 to 2001 (CF my reviews of Torres and Carcassonne). I have a lot more to go, although I have played and reviewed Rummikub too, so you might want to go check that out as well, and I guess that makes 4 reviews! I never even knew Rummikup won up to a few weeks ago! I also have a public wish list of as many Spiel Des Jahres winners as I could find here from as early as I could go back (1978). I hope to one day offer a review for each winner. Anyway I'm getting off subject here, or am I? It occurs to me that I've given ALL the previous Spiel Des Jahres winners I've reviewed a favorable review so far, therefore I'm willing to say this much... I believe overall if YOU decide to buy ANY game that won this same award, that it's more than fair to say that THAT game will also ROCK. I really feel that the boys and girls that run the Spiel Des Jahres know what they're doing over there in Essen.

From the same design team that brought us Torres, Tikal from what I understand is one of a trilogy set in Central and South America. I have not played those other games, I have played this game. And it plays very well.

It is a bit complicated in it's play, and if your familiar with Torres, then you should be able to grasp this game. The box says 2-4 players for 90 minutes, some descriptions say 20 to 30 minutes learn. Once you do that, the game becomes quicker to you each time. My friend and I have only played it three times, and we can bang a game out in about an hour, shaving 30 minutes off the box markings.

I would not however recommend this game right away to any novice gamer as stated earlier. This is a complex game, with fairly advanced parameters, and multiple levels of strategy. If you really must insist on playing this game before trying something more easy like say, Torres, you might be able to grasp this game in about a half hour, if you've either: played an RPG like D&D or you're familar with the German Style of gaming. Otherwise it could take you considerably longer to figure out.

I love building games, where one either builds with a card game (Citadels, Illuminati, Water Works), builds with tiles (Carcassonne, Rummikub, Torres) or just games in general where there's a planned progression (Chess, Pente, Dominos). This game certainly delivers all that and more. I can certainly see where there could be many expansion modules for this game. Whether you add a new set of decks or offer alternate decks, a larger board to introduce room for more tiles, and players... say 2-6 players? Or just the addition of new and different set of treasures to find, there are many avenues the manufacturer could take this game. I think the mechanics of this game are brilliant. I think the design, and layout, and especially the printing are also brilliant. I would love to see some expansions for this game, as long as it's done within reason. Who here doesn't think Hans Im Gl├╝ck didn't go a bit overboard on the whole Carcassonne theme (no matter how much you love or hate Carcassonne)???? <raises hand> <loves Carcassonne too>

Now, I have not played any of the other games in this theme, but I have played Torres (CF. my review). I think that Torres makes a great jumping off platform for Tikal. Torres, to Tikal is a logical transition and, Torres is quick to learn and play, and will teach the mechanics of this game. The designers, Kiesling and Kramer, seem to know what they're doing, I will certainly keep playing their games, and looking out for new ones they create. I can't wait to own my own version of Tikal, so until then, I will just have to continue playing it at Kevin's house. But I did win the very first time I played this, and the second time too.

Maya, Oh Maya, a Treasure Worth Digging Up
December 30, 2005
I had never heard of Tikal until I saw it at a local Board Game Cafe (one of those wonderful places where you can test out games and have a snack with friends here in South Korea). I would eye it on the shelf, but I never got the nerve to play it thinking it would be one of those games with complex rules that would take half the evening trying to comprehend before I could get around to actually playing it. I only wish I had tried it month's ago!

When the Board Game Cafe announced it was closing, I lined up to buy some of the games he had, and Tikal was top of my list. The board design and the packaging catch your eye, but the real fun comes in the actual play. It is an extremely genrous game giving each player 10 action points to play each turn and the chance to control your destiny with carefully placed markers.

The premise is that players are excavating the temples of Tikal in Guatmala and earning points from discovering treasure and uncovering and laying claim to temples. Every action taken is strategic from where you place the terrain hexagons to how well you distribute your "team" throughout the dig site.

We began the game feeling a bit overwhelmed at how much was required of us per turn, but after each of us had taken our first turns, we soon began to see the multiple levels of strategy involved and started getting competitive right away. Just when you think you have the game figured out, an unexpected volcano erupts causing players to scurry to retain and claim as many points as they can, and with 10 action points per turn, it can be a large pay-off for the keen-eyed player.

About half-way through the game, we were out of our seats hovering over the table anticipating the next moves we would be making and praying the volcano (the point at which points are scored) would delay just a bit longer until we had secured one more treasure to make a complete set or had stationed a temple guard to guarantee the value of that excavation.

Even more rewarding was the notion that any one of us could be the winner and the top excavator would not be revealed until all the points were tallied. It is not a foregone conclusion who the winner will be and that one point you manage to secure could be the one that makes the difference.

The Board Game Cafe may be gone now, but thankfully I escaped with the real treasure! Tikal is a real find.

Great game
October 13, 2004

Tikal is a unique, medium-weight strategy game. The board and overall gameplay are different every time.

You must carefully plan how to use your limited resources each turn. You have to stay on your toes or your opponent will spoil your plans. You may think you have a little area of the board carved out just for yourself, only to have your opponent plunk down a base camp right there and begin grabbing those remaining empty spaces.

Two possible negatives in this game are "analysis paralysis" and the fact that you have very little to do during other players' turns. But if all players agree to play expeditiously, these two things aren't too much problem. And if you do have slow turn- takers, you can always use a timer. But despite this, Tikal is still one of the best games I own.

I have not played the auction variant described in the rules, but I've heard it's more challenging.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A great family game
September 11, 2003

When my 7-year old daughter asked me to play (yet another) Pokmon game with her, I asked her if she didn't want to play a 'real' game instead.

She agreed, and I pulled out my copy of Tikal, which had been collecting dust on the shelf since I bought it.

The game was a hit. We played the simpler version of course - the regular would have been too complicated for a 7-year old, but she had a great time - in particular she liked how 'graphical' the game was - no text to read.

And yes, she won the game..

The regular version of the game, with the auction seems quite appropriate for a group of regular gamers - however, the simpler rules can be used to make this a very good 'family' game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Mario
Awesome Fun, Great Replay Value
May 21, 2003

Reiner Knizia once said he had no favorite game, that he favored different games depending on who he was playing with. Well, my friends love this game and their intensity and enthusiasm is contagious. Tikal is one of my very favorite games because of it's elegant game play, esp. in the auction version.

After having played the auction version, we've decided there is no other version. At first we feared that it would add time to an game that already experiences down time between one's turns, but we found that it added a whole lot of depth with little impact on overall play time.

The best thing about Tikal--the thing that makes it so elegant--is that there is no perfect strategy that always works. Some people tout treasure collection, some people say to avoid playing a second tent, some say to cap a temple only when it's threatened, the list of tactics are endless, yet no one strategy is dominant. The game requires your flexibility and your ability to react to the game as it unfolds. You can't plan a strategy in advance because the others may bend it or break it with their own tactics.

The bits are beautiful. The game is amazing; game sessions are tense, tight, and though provoking. You can't ask for more from a game that Tikal offers. Tikal is a classic in my book.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Can
My Best!
May 11, 2003

I bought this game and played it immediately with the auction version. My best WAS the Acquire and didnt think about a game better than that. Although i like the war games, ACQUIRE has a different place in my heart.But now it's the second for me because TIKAL is much more better than it.There is no luck in TIKAL.Auction version is perfect.Strategy is very important and you try to stop your opponents.I always tried to find games with no dice and i found the best.Buy it!!!you will see the ENJOYMENT.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great Game... Awesome theme and components
January 26, 2003

This is a very interesting game with a very good theme of the exploration of tikal. The best or one of the best things in the game is the gameboard will always be different on every game, no 2 games will ever be alike. On a game turn you will have 10 action points and some things you can do with them are discover pyramids, place camps, uncover temple levels, discover treasures, place guards on pyramids, exchange treasures etc...

Your goal in the game is to obtain the most point by controlling pyramids and treasure.

Some people dont like the downtime problem (it has never been a problem for me) but this is usually because there are many decisions you can make. I have never played the auction variant but I dont feel we need because the basic game seems more realistic.

A great design with a great theme and components for me deserves 5 stars!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
This game is not slow for NORMAL people
July 07, 2002

You must be an incredibly anal gamer to slight this game for analysis paralysis. I have played this games numerous times with family and friends, and have enjoyed it immensely. Even my 7 year old loves this game. If you are obsessed with playing a game in under 90 minutes (I guess because you like marking down how many games you played in an evening on some weird scoring list), you may not like this game. If those you play with cannot relax and avoid analysing a game to death, you may have a problem. However, if you are a normal person who plays games in order to have fun, you will like this game. Don't play with the auction variant. We always play without the auction rules and glory in its makes the game FUN...

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Took a chance... loved it.
June 27, 2002

I picked this up despite seeing some of the negative reviews about the long turns. Our turns move fairly ast. A three player game clocks in just under two hours and it never feels like it's dragging. Before our first game I told the group some of the concerns I had received from other players and we agreed to keep the turns as short as possible, going to a 3 minute timer if needed. Well, we haven't needed the timer since everyone seems to have adopted a pretty loose style of play. I also can't agree with the complaint that it has little interaction with the other players. If someone tries to grab a section of the board as their own private play area then you can be sure that everyone else will be streaming into your temples to make your life difficult.

We are quite happy with game play and the beautiful pieces. The theme seems to be more apparent than in other games (Playing the Raiders of The Lost Ark soundtrack during game play helps too). I would feel comfortable teaching this game to a new player and using it as an introduction to gaming.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Dave
One of the Best Games Ever
April 18, 2002

Tikal is not for those who prefer a quick romp or a light hearted game session. I find myself mentally fatigued after playing, but it's so worth it! You simply have a remarkable variety of options at your disposal on any given turn. Choosing the right combination of actions can drive you crazy, but that's what makes this game so enjoyable. Tikal is heavy on strategy, but also combines a component of luck.

The board is simply a work of art. The individual tiles, wooden markers, treasure tokens and rule summary cards are all high quality, functional and look very good. Play is somewhat complex, but runs smoothly once you get the hang of it. It may take a turn or two to get the swing of things the first time playing.

Tikal is a game with relatively few rules, but infinite strategy. It's complexity is its beauty. This game certainly is not for everyone - but for those who are willing to spend the time with it, Tikal outshines most others.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Beautiful trek thru the jungle
July 17, 2001

I am surprised at the ambivalence this game is shown in these reviews. While some like Tikal a lot, others find it drab and dull. With some games I understand that completely, as they are great in some ways, lacking in others, thus drawing ambivalent response. But I feel Tikal is one game that is truly great all around, and am surprised at the number of people willing to give such low ratings, including one of my own game group's gamers. (2 stars, Jeff???)

This game's production, as everyone has noted, it fantastic. I think this is one of the best looking games ever made. As for the game itself, I think the theme works well as you uncover temples, race to the treasure troves, and take over the excavation of valuable temples. And the possibility of unlucky tile draws is offset by the cool ability to build base camps on any open space in the jungle. (So if some player is hoarding points in a corner, go build a base campe right there and steal all his points!)

Tikal is one of the first German games I bought, so I've played it over a longer period of time than any other game, and I still find it to be one of the best. (Even all of my non-gamer friends seem to like it! Guys and gals!) Points are everywhere on the board and trying to use a measly 10 action points to max out your points is excruciatingly fun. I find it works well even with 2 players.

All in all, I feel this is another great game from Kramer, but evidently not everyone feels the same way. Though it's a bit complicated initially, I highly recommend this game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A new set of decisions every game
March 05, 2001

Because of the competitors involved in the game, it is nearly impossible to decide on a strategy before you start and stick to it. I love the learn-on-the-fly aspect of this game. Just when you think you are dominating the ownership of the pyramids (which I place the greatest emphasis on), your opponent pulls a high period tile and builds a new camp so that he is the only one that can occupy that pyramid. Do you start to move your diggers to gain some of the pyramid or just concede, allowing your opponent to get free reign on that portion of the board? Then when you have it all under control--in second place or just ahead--and it is the fourth and final round of scoring, the guy that is out of it steps up and places all of his men on pyramids that you have dominated all night. OH NO, NOT NOW! Your turn is now wasted just trying to recover your pyramids rather than attacking the competition. So much left to the last move of the game. A GREAT GAME BECAUSE OF THAT. Also, our games move quicker because we allow the next 3 players to look at their tile in secret before it is their turn. Speeds the game up quit a bit.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
An excellent choice!
January 08, 2001

I'm surprised by the recent spate of mediocre reviews. Tikal has been great fun for the groups I've played in, with some cutthroat moves and a good pace. It provides a fairly comparable (in skill level, time and fun) game to Settlers; thus it's a good solution to burnout. Anyone who says it's too slow must be taking themselves too seriously. I agree wholeheartedly with the Spiel des Jahres!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
TIKAL is destined to become a "classic"
July 06, 2000

As 'gamer from Gainesville' proves, you can't please everyone. I concur with the other reviews on this site, and the well-deserved awards the game has received.

Simple rules, numerous options, both offensive and defensive strategies, tough decisions, chance, and great 'bits.' TIKAL has it all. Many have noted long downtime, but I've found that veteran players keep the game moving fairly well.

TIKAL is a game that our group will be playing again and again.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Lots of colours and choices !
November 09, 1999

The greatness of Tikal is that the designers have managed to create a game that is so full of colours, choices and plots, and yet is so attractive to even non-gamers. It is a true family game, but still based on strategy and tactics, with a little dash of luck (that's the way life is!). A true gem that gives you replay value over and over again. Recommended!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
September 26, 1999

Only had this game for two months, but it's one of my favorites. My first few times playing this gem was with only 2 players and the game works very well with that few. Recently played with the full boat of 4 players and it was even better. A clever game which changes each time you play - laying out different tiles on the board is both rewarding for the player and visually pleasing when the board finally fills in. As usual with many of the best recent games, there are only so many action points you can use each turn and lots of choices to spend the points on. And the choices are everywhere - trade treasure, build up ruins, bring in more workers... you never seem to have enough points to do what you want (I suppose that's the point!) It plays reasonably fast and keeps others interested during the down-times. I'll recommend this one - even if just for 2 players.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Nothing better!
July 12, 1999

In the great spirit of Tal der Konige, El Grande and Union Pacific, we now have Tikal. Another entry into the finest of gaming experiences - strategy, player interaction, great components, never the same game twice, and fabulous fun - all within the intriguing theme of Mayan exploration. Do you further excavate the temples? Dig up treasure? Go deeper into the jungle? Guard your holdings? Build another base camp? Hire more workers? You face all of these decisions, plus warding off the other players advancements.

The accolades which have been heaped upon Tikal are well earned. Order this game now. It doesnt get any better than this.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Better run through the jungle: Ravensburger has a winner.
April 13, 1999

Hacking through the emerald-green shadows of undergrowth, you squint at a clearing up ahead. Calling to your achaelogical assistants strung out behind, you push forward, almost stumbling over an ancient ring of weathered stones--a Mayan royal burial mound! Jade amulets, gold statues and emerald-studded talismans surely lie within. But you need to lay claim to the newly-discovered temple two miles further before the day is through! Will you stay to oversee the excavation here, try to set up a base camp between the two, or push on to the temple, leaving a lackey or two to find the buried treasures? There's only so much you can do in a day, and the ominous rumbling of a nearby volcano means that time is running out....

Tikal puts you in the shoes of an archaelogical expedition leader, exploring the jungles of the Mayan Peninsula. A turn-based tile-laying game with movement based on action points, it draws on some of the best of what Samurai and Settlers of Catan have to offer. A tiered tile-drawing system of alphebetized tile groups (A-G) randomizes the tiles but controls how powerful they will be. A multitude of options per round, exciting and suspenseful gameplay and a unique scoring system make this game an original. Varied tactical approaches. Fantastic hand-drawn computer graphics. Just the right amount of luck. All this plus a high production quality with wooden markers and sturdy tiles make this game worth the price tag. An instant classic, this game is a must have for any serious gamer. Great replay value too: Very different tactics apply depending on the number of players, and it even comes with an alternate set of rules which brings a bidding element in. It's like having an expansion shipped with the game! OK, it's not perfect: The gameboard refused to lie absolutely flat (just moisten the seam with a sponge)and if the same player draws the volcano twice in a game, they're gonna be hard to beat. That's the breaks in a jaguar-eat-excavator world like Tikal, 'cause its a jungle out there.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A classic that belongs on your game shelf
January 14, 2010

My first exposure to Eurogaming was sometime around 1996, when Settlers of Catan was still new to the gaming world. For several years the Eurogames were coming out so fast and furious my game group couldn't keep up. We'd play one for a while and quickly move on to the next one. Tikal was caught up in that shuffle. We played it quite a bit at first, and then this little gem called Puerto Rico came out and Tikal was shuffled off to the Island of Misfit Eurogames. Eleven years later I write a review for Tikal. You can probably guess where this story is going already....

My game shelf has seen a lot of games come and go. For several years poor little Tikal sat on the shelf, waiting its turn. As things started to slow down in our gaming group Tikal started creeping its way back up the list of games most likely to get played on gaming nights. The reason being this game is simply a classic. But I have to put a caveat on that, the game is a classic for veteran gamers provided you play the auction variant. While the standard version of the game is fun enough, random chance plays too large a role in the outcome.

Three years ago I began playing this game online as well as in person. Playing online has some obvious advantages from a time perspective, but it is definitely a different experience from playing the game in person, especially when you are playing a bidding game. But given that I could play several games at once online (given that the game is turn based and does not need to be played in real time), I began playing this more. And more. And more. Next thing I know it's 2010 and I have played well over 200 games of Tikal online in addition to the 50 or so I've played in person and I still love the game. If you haven't played yet, buy a copy and treat yourself to a classic. You won't be disappointed. Start with the standard version and if you are a veteran gamer dive straight into the auction variant after just a play or two.

Tikal is very simple to learn and like chess it follows a certain script, particularly in the opening moves. And just like chess that script changes with every game after just a few moves. That's what has kept the game fresh after eleven years. Each game feels like it is different from the last one, I can honestly say that I've never finished a game and thought, "Wow, that played out just like the game I played a few weeks ago". So if you are relatively new to Eurogaming and are wondering how to flesh out the gaming library, give Tikal an opportunity. It is money well spent.

Maya not get bogged down.
January 05, 2004

It took me nearly five years to get around to playing Tikal, I didn't figure it would go over with my friends. I was rather surprised. Not by the fact that I liked it, I figured I would like Tikal. What surprised me is that my wife liked it. Normally, any game that has down time and requires quite a bit of thought each turn does not interest her. But Tikal is a solid game, and she has come to appreciate good games.

As mentioned in previous reviews, depending on your group Tikal could suffer from 'analysis paralysis'. At its best Tikal does have quite a bit of down time, but so far it has managed to hold the interest of my group. I am concerned that Tikal may not hold our interest well after 10 plays, only time will tell.

I found the game to be at its best with the auction rules, and would encourage anyone reading this review to not even fool around with the 'easy rules'. Go straight to the advanced rules, it is much more satisfying and only slightly more complex.

Bottom line, three stars with the easy rules, four with the auction rules. If down time is annoying to you or your group get a timer and approach with caution.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Tom
An Intriguing Strategy Game
December 27, 2003

This is a fun and interesting game in which you command an expedition with the goal of digging up temples and uncovering hidden treasures in the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. The player who controls the most valuable temples and treasures is the winner. The strategies for winning are not so obvious though. There are 4 scoring rounds and ownership of temples and treasures constantly change hands. At one moment you could have an apparently commanding lead and at the next you find yourself chasing a new leader.

This game uses an Action Point system, similar to Torres (the similarities between the two games pretty much end there). You get 10 action points to spend on your turn. You can use your action points to do a variety of things: bring out new expedition members (1 pt/member), dig up temples (2 pts/level), uncover treasures (3 pts/treasure), move expedition members (1 pt/space), guard temples (5 pts/guard), create base camps (5 pts/camp), trade treasures with others players (3 pts/trade). So, as you can see, the number of options available to you on your turn can be a bit overwhelming. Combine this with the fact that you are staring at a very busy board and trying to also determine what your opponent(s) will likely do on their turns and you could easily fall victim to Analysis Paralysis. I dont like invoking time limits on turns, but in this game you almost need to if you ever want anyone to play it with you again.

In conclusion, this isnt the best strategy game Ive ever played but it is enjoyable. Ive played it with 2, 3, and 4 players and they all worked well. I would probably not recommend this game to people who dont enjoy strategy games. For strategy game lovers though, give this one a try. I dont think youll be disappointed. Also, the rules describe an auction version of the game, which I would highly recommend using. The luck factor is too high in the basic version of the game.

PS I know that Funagain is currently out of stock on this game but you can still find it at most game stores.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Jake
A long wait.
February 07, 2003

This is one of the best games I've seen that really isn't much fun. Its presentation marks score high and make you want to dive in and start playing . . . but there's something terribly wrong when you realize you are waiting too much more than you are playing.

It's a gamer's game for sure, but it's no El Grande. It's also the type of game where you can get frustrated with your opponents for taking so long, but when it comes to your turn, you get so involved with your choices that you realize you're just as guilty as the others for taking your time. You have to think to play this game and the choices are enormous enough that it takes time to process each one. At least with El Grande, your choices get whittled down with each turn so that the pace accelerates within each round as you change turns from player to player.

I think Tikal's greatest flaw is the basic mechanic itself. I like the action point system the way it's used in Torres, but there's too much to do in one turn here. You have a lot of decisions in Puerto Rico, but after making your decision, you're done your turn. In Tikal, you stop, think, figure out your move then go . . . and then discover it's still your turn because you have some moves left.

I haven't figured out a solution, but all this game needs is a way to keep the turns shorter and rolling quicker. And that's all it needs.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A novel middleweight - use the auction rules!
October 07, 2002

So much has already been said of this game in prior reviews, I will only give my thoughts on the game, rather than a description.

First off, I would suggest not altering the rules as suggested in the prior review. Adding a luck factor to the game detracts considerably from the elegance and the balance of the game. On the same note, I would suggest moving past the basic game to the auction game as soon as possible. Players must determine just how many victory points they are willing to pay for the privilege of taking a really good tile, and this can be a great game-balancer.

The components are beautiful, and the player aid cards provided are amazing in how much they can convey with no words.

Oh, and please, PLEASE, don't follow the suggestion of losing the 'Guard the Temple' rule. This is one of the most integral of the game subsystems, and it needs to stay in place.

Have fun in the jungle! Highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great fun, but kinda old
August 08, 2002

I picked Tikal up because it won the the Game of the year award. The games that win of this prize are pretty good most of the time (Settlers of Catan, for example). It is high qualty, but not too colorfull (almost everything is green). Anyway, we started to play it, we were just unable to stop. Round after round, and it become addicted to this game. Hovewer, with time its shortfalls began to surface. The luck has little to do with that game, the smarter always the winner (this is why we started to use a dice to determine the AP for each turn). Also, we outlawed the Guard the temple rule. Finally we added a sand-glass. This way, the game became hectic and frenzy (but much more fun). The only problem is that all these effort were unable to solve its main problem: The simplicity of the basic mechanism (which is an advantage for the casual gamer) makes it boring sometime. But apart that the game is just great!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Fred
There's a Way to Play it That is Fun
January 07, 2002

I think there are two things to keep in mind when playing Tikal, to make it show it's 4 stars:

1/ You need 3 players minimum (box says 2)

2/ You need to be annoying each other throughout the game. If you end up exploring in different parts of the board, not stepping on each others' toes, the game will drag, and be decided by who went first and who turned volcanoes. If on the other hand you're constantly grabbing good, defendable routes while looking to steal your opponent's, and they're trying the same, the game will be a blast. It takes that little to make the game a lot of fun. With a minimum of 3 players!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Ron Jr
December 17, 2001

Tikal is an interesting experience. When it gets played by the Saturday group, the downtime is immense. Since the host is a true think-tank type of guy, he looks at every possibility before playing any tile or moving his pieces (and he's not above kibitzing for other people to leave him alone). I find this a little more enjoyable when the group playing does not consist of a hard-core wargamer or a statistician in disguise. It moves a little quicker and it's more fun.

There is some serious downtime though, even when playing with a group that moves quickly. After my turn, I can usually get up and get a cup of coffee before it's my turn again (unless a volcano is turned up). I usually prefer lighter fare than this, but occasionally it's worth a little agony.

The game pieces are very nice and the board is excellently rendered. The feel is appropriate, even if the game is a little heavy for the casual player.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A really solid game.
October 03, 2001

I can see how this game is not everyone's cup of tea, but I really enjoy it. It has all the formulas I look for in a game: multiple ways to win, stealing from your opponents. What's not to like?


1-Incredible production for any price; this game is beautiful. Incredible value.

2-Multiple ways to win.

3-Great game for the family as well as the hardcore game group.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
An intriguing game, though not for everyone
February 01, 2001

I previously submitted a critical 3-star review of this game. The fact that I am now upgrading the review to 4 stars is indicative of the nature of the game. It's a game that takes time to grow on you, and then only if you play with the right opponents and with the right attitude.

First, I should praise the production value of this game. It's very attractive, and Ravensburger gives excellent value for the money.

Though the rules of this game are relatively straightforward, the strategy of the game is very subtle. The first few times you play, it won't be obvious as to why the winner won. That and the fact that you probably start out playing the basic version, in which the tiles are randomly drawn, will probably have you somewhat frustrated over how things turn out.

Plus, there is a real downtime problem, at least the first few times. As much as I've grown to like this game, it probably has more downtime than any other game that we enjoy playing.

But once you become familiar with it, it's a terrific game. The same subtleities of strategy are what ultimately make it fascinating.

Play the auction version once you're familiar with it -- it makes a huge difference. This is one of the few games where playing the advanced version is actually faster than the basic. Each player sees the choices as to what is coming, and begins formulating ideas in his head a little quicker, we've found.

Plus, people get tiles that they've bid on, and they've bid on them because they have some sense of what they want to do with them. This also makes for faster play.

Finally, the advanced version allows for different styles of play. You can be aggressive, bidding to get the tiles you want, and playing a preconceived strategy. You can be more opportunistic, taking what comes to you cheaply, and shifting tactics as you go.

It's rarely obvious in this game as to whether it's best to focus on getting the coins, building up the temples, stealing other people's temples, positioning your camps, etc. We have found that our games are close, tense and exciting -- once we've settled into a habit of playing with 4 veterans.

Tikal is now one of my favorite games to play. But expect some growing pains.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Solid game, leaves you wanting more
October 31, 2000

As one of the first of the new games available in Canada, I quickly scooped it up at my first chance.

The game gets bonus points from me for its setting since I am from Guatemala. However, after a few games, I was left wanting more. The pieces are wonderful but the gameplay could use some help. For the most part, the game has played quite well. Unfortunately, a few of the people we play with tend to overanalyze their moves, leaving the rest of us waiting for far too long.

I do love how the game board evolves as the game moves along.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
An involving game for older families
September 08, 2000

As a family game, this one might be a bit much for younger players, but on the whole it is an excellent game.

The game sounds simple enough: explore the jungle and try and get more treasures and control more temples than your opponents. The game actually is not that hard once you get the hang of the rules, but for some members of your family, the movement rules may take a while to grasp.

I have found that my friends tend to like this game a lot and ask to play it frequently, but my family gives it mixed reviews. It is a fun game, well-themed with jungles and temples and will probably be liked more by the boys then by the girls. However, if your family likes well thought-out games that take 90 minutes, and you have an older family (14 years and older), I can recommend this game.

As you can probably tell from the price, this is a 'big' board game along the lines of Monopoly or Settlers of Catan as opposed to Life or Samarkand, but is worth the pricetag. And it does play very well with 2-4 players.


The good: Involving, beautiful board, clever playing required. The bad: It takes a while to remember movement rules.

All in all, a great game aimed more at older, more strategic gaming families.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Dig up this artifact!
January 06, 2000

I received Tikal for Christmas '99, and I'm very pleased to add it to our gaming cupboard.

The game is beautifully-produced--from the board to the box the game comes in--it's a treat to play with.

The best part of the game is the short learning curve. The Mayan style rule cards are all you need to start playing, once you've read the explanation for each symbol just once. But now that I've played through a few times, I'm still working on the best strategies and counter-moves. I find that the time passes quickly between turns as you search out new strategies and examine the new tiles that get uncovered.

The scoring rounds are exciting--I like how the volcano suddenly 'erupts' from someone's hand when they choose it, and all the rest of the game is put on hold as you scramble for points. I also like how the same temples can score for multiple people. It gives you the chance to not just score, but steal someone else's 'work', or block an area from the leader.

The game loses a few points for lack of atmosphere. It tries hard, and looks beautiful, but I don't find myself as caught up in the 'air of the idea,' as I do in El Grande or Settlers of Catan. It seems that the scenario is more of an excuse to try out a few gaming concepts. As such, I don't 'get into it' as much as I would like.

Or maybe that's just because I keep losing.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Mike
Its a Jungle Out There... Tikal is a Gem
December 03, 1999

In the game world jungle, Tikal is a gem. When I picked this up at the local game store in mid-June, I really didn't know what to expect. The cover loked intriguing and attractive. Looking at the back cover, the exploration theme seemed promising when combined with the variable set up feature of hexegonal hexes reminiscent of Settlers of Catan.

Upon opening the box I was impressed by the high quality compnenents. I had never owned a game made by Ravensburger and was really happy to feel heavy tiles, colorful wood compnenets and a heavy game board. One of my colorblind fiends also observed that the game avoided problems where everything could 'blend together' (a problem he's had with other games.)

I found the rules pretty easy to understand and we dived into play. The first game was highly experimental. This is a game where the abundasce of choices can be confusing. It was also difficult to determine the most productive ways of scoring points.

On the whole, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy Tikal and echo the sentiments of most of the reviews I've read.

The only complaints I have are minor. First, the downtime between players can be awkward, especially when one of the players hasnn't played before. Second, it seems to be difficult to catch a leader if they get a lead. Intelligemt game play seems to help keep the game close.

I find this game enjoyable. I enjoy the looks on other player's faces as they wrestle with the problem of 'so much to do, so few moves to do it in'. I also like the idea of moving for the maximum points on a scoring round. Excellent game!!!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Award winning game is solid entertainment
July 02, 1999

TIKAL is one of those games that you just can't resist. It's quite pleasing to behold, and offers up more than enough strategy situations to keep your interest throughout.

I especially enjoyed the tile placement that creates a different map every time you play; the random scoring mechanism via the Volcano draw; the hunt for the 8 different types of treasures; the resource management of your 10 action points per turn (plus how to best allocate your leader and workers); and the overall feel that the exploration/archaeological theme conveys to the game.

If I had to nitpick to find faults, they would be that the game can only accommodate up to 4 players (apparently does not play as well with 2 or 3), and the possibility of delays between player turns as folks agonize over their best course of action.

Strangely enough, this is one of the few import games that you actually can play solitaire. With no hidden cards, no secret allocations, etc,. one can try out different strategies ('go for the treasures', 'excavate the temples', 'best camp placement', etc.) by themselves.

Overall, TIKAL is a solid game, that is just a notch short of greatness in my book. It's a valuable addition to my gaming collection, and a title that I'll look forward to playing in the years to come...

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A darned good family game
June 29, 1999

Tikal is a game of exploration, with expeditions mapping a Mayan city and cataloging its treasures. It is also the recipient of the Spiel des Jahre, Germany's highest gaming honor. It had stiff competition in its fellow finalists, Giganten and Union Pacific, but edged them out in atmosphere and ease of play.

With few innovations of its own, Tikal takes a tip from its own subject matter and reaps the benefits of prior games. Elements of play can trace their heritage to other notable games, like The Settlers of Catan and Mississippi Queen (the random hex map), Samurai (the influence on temple hexes), and even Elfenland/Elfengold (bidding on limited resources, in this case the hexes). These elements are combined in a game that is not only beautiful to look at, but satisfying to play.

One especially nice touch is that all players have exactly the same resources available, which makes the game nicely balanced. Unlike Settlers of Catan, all locations in Tikal are potentially available to all players. Even new players stand a sporting chance.

Highly recommended for family gamers, and a nice diversion for hardcore strategy gamers.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Is downtime a problem?
November 17, 2002

This game has a great deisgn, nice theme, interesting opportunities and lots of possibilities throughout your turn. Looks great so far, doesn't it?

But this game also has loads of downtime. With 4 or 5 players, you only have 5 to 6 turns. This wouldn't be a problem if you could also have a piece of the action if it is not your turn (Like Settlers for instance) but that's not the case. And with ten precious action points to spare during each turn, you don't have to be a think-tank to keep on rethinking on how to spent the points.

To sum it up : this is a 4 to 5 star game if it wasn't for the downtime. Best variant would be to get as many Tikal games out as there are players and play on all boards simultaneously.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Is that all? finished?
November 06, 2000

I have played several games of Tikal with several different groups. The design is perfect. The game play may be unique. It's playable with 2 players which is very positive. Rules are very clear. These are positive points, but what I do not get is the satisfaction of the victory. It just doesn't give it as Settlers or Tigris & Euphrates gives.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
January 23, 2003

I first played this game at a party. There were numerous other games to play as well. Four of us got stuck with Tikal, and everyone of us was bored for the next hour and a half. It seemed to drag on. Nobody cared who would win, as long as it was over. I would suggest instead Settlers of Catan (Seafarers, Knights & Cities), or Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Downtime A'Plenty
February 04, 2002

After the numerous positive reviews and press this game received, to say that I was disappointed when I finally got to play Tikal would be a huge understatement.

The first few times we played I'll admit that I was dazzled by the quality of the shiny new game pieces. However, the facination quickly wore off as game after game was dragged down into a morass of downtime as players inevitably tried to maximize movement points and tile positions. This trend is only excaerbated when one of the infamous volcano scoring tiles is drawn.

We recently gave the game one last try with the optional auction varient, hoping that that might save this game from being put on permanent closet patrol, but, no, it simply makes a slow game slower.

I'm no game designer, but the idea of letting players attempt to maximize their positions when scoring rounds show up seems to be a game killer, especially in a game with SO many ways to move! Torres, and El Grande to a lesser extent, seem to pull this off without destroying the game flow entirely, but Tikal does not. As soon as that volcano shows up, go order a pizza or turn on the tube 'cause you can bet it's gonna be awhile.

A much more preferable method, in my opinion, is the scoring system used in games like Union Pacific, in which players know there are going to be scoring rounds, but you don't know exactly when, and, more importantly, you can't do anything once they happen!

In conclusion, this is not a game for impatient gamers. Even when it is your turn, there are so many options and movement points to use, you may find yourself simply blowing through them to get the game over with in a finite amount of time!

As Homer Simpson would say, this game is 'Booooor-ing'

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Not Everyone's Cup of Tea
December 03, 2000

I've played Tikal quite a few times over a fairly broad period of time, but I can't find myself being as enthused to play this game as I usually am when it comes to one of the many games my group tends to play.

The game itself has a fairly good premise, but overall, I tend to find myself bored while playing the game. There's the occasional skirmish between folks over controlling temples and getting treasure, but it's just not very exciting to me.

Tikal is worth trying to gauge your interest, but it's not an instant hit with everyone.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
The Cheese Stands Alone- I Don't like it
November 28, 2000

I've had this game for over a year and I've played it several times. It has won numerous awards and many gamers I know think it's a classic. Well, I just don't get it. The quality of the game is excellent, the premise makes you want to like the game, but the gameplay is... well... boring.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Good but Not Great
November 07, 2000

I have visited the famous ruins of Tikal and opened this game with great anticipation. The board, the bits and the graphics don't disappoint, but the game play does. After a few turns the excitement dies down. I think you could win the game by scoring your 10 action points every turn and not doing anything.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but this just doesn't cut it compared to my favourites (Modern Art, El Grande and Caesar & Cleopatra)

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great for children, but not for grown-ups!
July 20, 2000

I was very pleased with the standard of production in this game, and after reading several rave reviews I was looking forward to playing it very much.

However, whilst this might be very good for families with younger children, it seems to leave adults wondering what all the fuss is about.

Like all too many games, it only seems to work well when the maximum number of players are taking part; with any fewer there is no pressure to compete.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
I Must Be Missing Something!
July 14, 2000

It's a bit like A1 Sauce. You won't see a Steak House without a bottle of the stuff on the table. With all the hype and talk about it you try it and wonder what all the shouting is about. Later you try it again; it must be good, everyone likes it. Same result. Tikal is one of the best produced games I have seen. The board, the pieces and the atmosphere are done well. I've played the game with several groups and have heard from others who have purchased it and I have to say, the gameplay just isn't that interesting.

This is a game you want to like, and with all the experts shouting from the mountains how good it is, you should. I may have gotten several bad batches of A1 Sauce or in my gaming sessions I've missed something, but compared to say Union Pacific or Torres, this game isn't in the same league. Of course, those of you who have A-1 Sauce in your refrigerator may think differently.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
10% Mediocre Game, 40% Excellent Components, 50% Hype
July 03, 2000

I tried playing this game several times, and every game was finished with a disappointed sigh or a line such as, 'well, what other games do you have?'

First of all, I am a huge fan of Settlers of Catan and I also enjoy El Grande. So I bought Tikal, with expectations that it would be on the same level of quality. At first I was very excited because the game components were truely top-notch! There was even a fantastic storage tray that kept everything well organized and maximized quick game setup. But after playing it, my level of excitement dropped. First of all, the gameplay did offer the choice of many different decisions to make with each turn. However, the novel gameplay quickly became less and less interesting which left all of us with a feeling that the game was just dragging. The games we played usually had one player far in the lead and it was extremely difficult to stop him. The rest of us had to play through the rest of the game just trying to fight for second or third place.

I will also say that there isn't as much competitive 'swindle or stab thy neighbor' gameplay as I would have liked. There is much more player interaction in Settlers and El Grande.

I realize that the greatly reduced tension and cutthroat competitive feel may also be a bright point in the game that would make it an excellent family game. Unfortunately, this is not a feature that I particularly prefer.

So in summary, this game is a mild-nature game that is essentially a race style game. If you enjoy a light-hearted game with a few giggles here and there then this game is probably for you. If you are looking for a game that is more challenging or thrilling to play, that actually gives you a feel that you have more of a chance to undermine the leader and bring him down to equal footing rather than spending the entire game playing 'catch-up', then I would suggest to look elsewhere.

I can see that this game will spend many years in my closet collecting dust until I have a few children of my own to play it with.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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