Chairman of the Board: No Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

‘Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar’ game review

By Ed Appleby, Illustrator

Life in ancient Mesoamerica can be a tough go—balancing day-to-day survival with piety and commerce. Luckily the gears of this game are well-oiled and run like clockwork.

Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar is a worker placement game for 2–4 players designed by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini, published by Czech Games Edition in 2012. Each turn you can place or remove workers from a system of gears that turn in tandem with a giant Mayan calendar, collecting various awards depending on their position once removed. The game ends when the calendar has made one full revolution.

Mousetrap this isn’t. I am usually very leery about games with moving parts, and once you add the fact that the rulebook was long and had all the coherence of ancient Mayan hieroglyphs, I did not come into the game with high hopes. However, once I started to play, I realized the game abides by standard worker placement mechanics, and the elegance and simplicity of the gameplay won me over.

Timing is the essence of this game—being able to only either place or remove workers during your turn and trying to time against the calendar in order to most efficiently benefit your strategy becomes your goal. Like many eurostyle games, it suffers from some “competitive solitaire” and “point salad” aspects, but I found it didn’t detract from the gameplay.

I would recommend this game to anyone in search of a smooth worker placement game—but, like searching out any Mayan temple nowadays, I would recommend letting someone who has played before guide you.