Review: Founders of Teotihuacan
Establish yourself as one of the great Founders of Teotihuacan!
Establish yourself as one of the great Founders of Teotihuacan!
Designed by Filip Głowacz and published by Board&Dice
👤 1-4 players
🧩 Worker Placement, Tile Placement
Travel back in time to the founding of one of the greatest cities of Mesoamerica and become a part of its history once again. Design the foundations of a great pre-Columbian civilization, with its buildings, temples, and a grand pyramid in the center. Find perfect locations for production buildings and great temples, and build the might of the great pyramid overlooking your city. Establish yourself as the very best among competing architects, and your project will secure you a spot among the great Founders of Teotihuacan!
—description from the publisher
Founders of Teotihuacan is played over 3 or 4 rounds depending on the number of players. Each round players will place their actions disks on the main board creating towers. The height of the tower determines the action strength with a maximum tower height of 4 disks (including the always present bonus-disk). Each turn your architect will be at one of the four sides of you player board. This half of your player board will be open for tile placement this turn, this is called the Architects Reach. After your action you move the architect one space clockwise. Action Strength and Architects Reach are only relevant for Build actions.
The main board is divided into 3 sections with each section having a build and influence action available. Each section has 2 to 3 action spots depending on the number of players. If you're the first player to place a disk at an action spot you gain the bonus printed on the bonus-disk.
The first section is dedicated to buildings. The action strength determines which buildings you can build (an action strength of 3 lets you build a building of 3 spaces large). You place the building on your player board, each empty space next to this building will gain one resource cube matching the building type. The influence action lets you either build two 1 space buildings or you can produce 0 or 1 resource next to every existing building.
The second section is dedicated to temples. You can build a temple up to your action strength, missing action strength can be supplemented with the resource highlighted in grey (wood or stone). Once you build a temple you can immediately pick one of the two face-up worship tiles that provide scoring opportunities, VP or bonus actions. The influence action lets you complete a worship tile you gained previously to receive the printed rewards.
The third and last section is dedicated to building your Pyramid. The required action strength is always 4, but can be supplemented with gold. Once you've payed the required wood and gold you can gain a tile of your choice and place it it on your pyramid. You immediately gain 2 points. The influence action lets you swap previously gained Worship tiles and gain points
Once all players are out of player disks the round ends and the next round begins. Players have to remove one action disk from the game meaning they have one less action disk each round. All the building tiles on the main board are limited and are only replenished at the end of each round. If this was the last round you'll now score final points based on your temple and pyramid placement. The player with the most points winst the game!
Founders of Teotihuacan (FoT) shares part of its name with another game by Board&Dice, but that is about the only thing it shares (okay, it has a pyramid and some icons are the same) but overall this is a vastly different game. While I really like Teotihuacan, let us see if Founders of Teotihuacan can hit that same spot.
First of all I must say I'm really impressed with the action selection in this game. There is a constant battle between players for going to spots first (to gain the bonus) and also the piggy-backing on other players already placed action disks to increase you action strength. The fact that you can choose to place more than one disk in one turn to immediately increase the action strength adds another decision to it. You also need to keep track of the tower height for each of the action spots, because if it reaches 4 you can no longer go there.
FoT main mechanism besides the action selection is Tile Placement. While generally I'm a big fan of Tile Placement games (for example Isle of Cats) something felt missing in FoT. I think it has to do with the fact that you're not trying to place tiles as efficiently as possible but rather to generate resources and putting them in overlapping districts to maximise scoring. This leaves gaps and a lot of strange placements that if you look at it kind of looks like a mess. I understand this is part of the game but for me it didn't have the same satisfying feeling as for example Patchwork where you try to be as tidy as possible. It's more about managing the limited space you have on your player board.
I do like the fact that FoT tries its hand at bringing a more complex Tile Placement game to the hobby. And overall I think this is executed rather well. All the mechanisms and different actions works well together and are really intertwined with each other. There is plenty to think about each time you play. The Action Strength system and the rotating Architects Reach are great.
The endgame scoring and Worship tiles offer an interesting puzzle. The endgame scoring looks at your pyramid tiles and for each matching temple in that district you gain 2 (for base level pyramid tiles) or 3 (for higher level pyramid tiles) points. So with every placement you try to maximise that scoring opportunity. The worship tiles you have are constantly changing and you try to fulfil the conditions during the game to score additional points. Again plenty to think about.
The components and artwork look good but nothing special. Wooden cubes and cardboard. The rulebook was pretty good but we had to look-up some clarifications about set-up on BGG. Besides that we could get playing from the rulebook straight away.
Lastly I wanted to talk about the theme, which is rather pasted on. The fact that this game is lighter than Teotihuacan makes me think It might have done better if the theme was something more family approachable (cats? theme parks? zoo?). Because some people might now actually disregard it because of the theme and the weight it's bigger brother caries. It just seemed like a rather odd decision to me.
👍 Plenty of player interaction
👍 Tile Placement game with plenty of complexity
👍 Scoring is a real challenging puzzle
➖ Tile placement didn't feel as satisfying as other tile placement games (YMMV)
➖ Theme is pasted on and could've easily been something entirely different
Founders of Teotihuacan
Founders of Teotihuacan does a lot of things right, it has a solid mix of mechanisms and those are well executed. Action Selection has plenty of interaction but I was not as enthusiastic about the Tile Placement part. The production is solid but I think it could have more potential with a more approachable theme. If you're in the market for a more thinky tile placement game definitely have a look at Founders of Teotihuacan.
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)
Looking for alternatives or similar games? Have a look at Teotihuacan or Isle of Cats