Located in El Peten, Guatemala; Tikal was one of the most important mayan centers of its time . With over 3,000 buildings spread over 16 square km: palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, terraces, residences, plazas, causeways and steam baths, more than 200 stone stelae and altars, hundreds of graves and ritual sites. All these and over 100,000 tools, images and ornaments found in Tikal show that it had an uninterrupted history of over a thousand years.

You might recognise Tikal from its role as the Massasi Rebel Base on Yavin 4 in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope. The view from Temple 4 was used in one scene where you can see the tops of the other temples poking through the jungle canopy.

Tikal is a 1999 German board game by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer, manufactured by Ravensburger, and published in the US by Rio Grande games. It supports two to four players, and usually finishes within two to three hours.

Tikal is a game of exploration. Each player plays a team of explorers, discovering and excavating the Guatemalan ruins. Each turn, a player is given a set of ten action points to spend on activities such as moving explorers, digging pyramids, digging for treasure, etc. Before each players turn, a new terrain tile is randomly drawn, which that player gets to place somewhere on the map. So the map of Tikal is randomly generated each game, with each player trying to lay things out in a way beneficial to themselves.

Periodically, but at random intervals, scoring rounds occur, and each player receives points based on things such as having treasures, or sets of treasures, having the most explorers on a pyramid, etc. When the last terrain tile has been placed on the map, the game is over, and the person who has acquired the most points is crowned the winner.

This game is fairly simple, and pretty fast paced. New players tend to try to plot out their turns several moves in advance, but after a few games quickly realise this is largely unimportant and even impossible in this game, as so much can change in just a turn or two. The production values are tremendous, as with most Rio Grande games these days, and the gameplay mechanic of having ten action points (which is never enough to do what you want to do) gives the game a very enjoyable frantic feeling.

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