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Tikal Review
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Tikal, the latest strategic board game to be brought to iOS by Codito Development, is now available from the app store. Though it doesn’t carry the Reiner Knizia name like previous offerings, Tikal bears many of the hallmarks of the good doctor’s signature games.

Tikal Pros:

  • Crisp, HD graphics that packs a lot of info into limited space
  • Soundtrack has cool Mayan theme, can also play music from own library
  • Tap-based control system is easy to use
  • Deep strategic gameplay with lots of elements that affect scoring
  • Universal build
  • GameCenter and OpenFeint integration for leaderboards and achievements

Tikal Cons:

  • Screen can get kind of cluttered and confusing
  • Ton of rules to get a handle on
  • Difficult to follow what your opponent does on his turn
  • Some minor control confusion between tapping tile or worker

Tikal centers around an exploratory theme, as you and up to 3 additional players (human, AI, or both) take turns laying hex tiles on a jungle grid, creating pathways by which your workers (or leader) can wend their way toward temples or treasure troves, which are the basis for scoring. It is a contest of control and one-upmanship. After laying a tile on any hex adjacent to a previously-played tile, you have a total of 10 action points (APs) to use per turn. Every action in the game requires differing amounts of points. Moving from one hex to another costs 1 AP per stone that you must cross along the path, with multiple stones set up between adjacent tiles in some cases. Collecting a treasure costs 3 APs, while building a new camp costs 5 APs. Each temple site is marked with a number which increases as you uncovering additional layers, which costs 2 APs per layer. Treasures can be swapped for 3 APs, and the number of workers occupying a temple tile dictates which team controls the temple and receives points once scored. There are 4 volcano tiles that will appear randomly, triggering an additional round of play before tallying any scoring situations for each player. After the 4th volcano tile is played, you continue until the final tile has been placed and there is a final scoring round that determines the winner. Additionally, there are a host of limitations placed upon you that only allow a certain action to occur x number of times per unique worker. It’s quite confusing, even when reading over the detailed instructions, but it starts to become much clearer once you delve into the game itself.

There is a ton of strategy involved, especially when deciding the most effective way to spend your precious APs. Going after treasures is sure to net you some points, but at the detriment of controlling temples, whose value can far outweigh that of a few golden trinkets. Of course, finding pairs and triplets of the same type of treasure will increase your score greatly and the ability to swap can make this a quick reality. Deciding whether to build out into the jungle or man some temples is another tough decision. You could dedicate some manpower to the temples, but you could just as easily swoop in after a volcano tile is played, steal control, and reap the benefits. The opportunity to guard a temple is offered a couple of times per player, effectively locking in control of a temple at its current value. You can set up additional camps in cleared tiles, with location being a key factor in your quest for victory.

Graphically, Tikal has a somewhat cluttered appearance, but it seems to do the best it can to offer all of the necessary info in plain sight. While it’s easy enough to decipher what you are looking at given the crisp display provided by the HD graphics, it can be a bit overwhelming. In addition to the game tiles and the placement of all pieces, each player has a sidebar that contains the number of remaining workers, guards, bases, and collected treasures, as well as remaining APs. You are able to zoom in and out as needed by double-tapping or pinching, which is crucial to seeing the whole board, as well as getting down to the nitty-gritty and making the best moves. The soundtrack has a bit of flavor that gives it a Mayan feel, which was pretty cool. You can also play music from your own library. The controls are all tap-based, as you tap either the tile or a worker and tap buttons on pop-up menus. For the most part, these work pretty effectively, with pop-ups that warn you when you can’t do certain actions, too.

Replay value is good, with multiple AI levels to compete against and an online multiplayer mode, too. GameCenter and OpenFeint integration brings 4 global leaderboards and nearly four dozen achievements into the fray. Player rankings and stats offer additional reasons to keep coming back for more, as well as the opportunity to hone your strategic skills. Tikal is also a universal app, bringing the fun to all iOS devices. At $4.99, Tikal is on par with similar strategic titles and provides a 4-Dimple cerebral experience.

Tikal Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2011-05-06T01:02:55+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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