This week, we were down to just three players so we decided to play Taluva, one of last year’s Essen releases designed by Marcel Andre Casasola Merkle and published by Hans im Gluck. In this game, players are developing the landscape of a volcanic island and constructing buildings in order to get rid of your stock of building pieces. On your turn, you first place a landscape tile, either by expanding the current playing area or by building upwards on top of existing tiles. In this way the 3D landscape is a bit reminiscent of that in Java. After placing a tile you must place at least on of your building pieces. These come in three different types: huts, which can be built on any empty space except where there is a volcano; temples which can only be built in a settlement of at least 3 buildings; and towers, which can only be built on a third level landscape space and connected to a settlement. The game ends either when all the landscape tiles have been placed, in which case the person having built the most temples wins, or immediately when someone claims the win by having built all of two of their three types of building.
This was a pretty close game. None of us was too destructive with our tile placements, although there were a few occasions when huts got squashed but there was a fair bit of competition to get towers placed on level 3 spaces. We eventually got to the stage where players were forced to place to stop their left hand neighbour from winning on their next turn. This went round a couple of times and we all thought I’d managed to place so that Mark K couldn’t stop me. He couldn’t but I did work out a way that nobody had previously spotted that Mark K could win himself. Kind soul that I am, I pointed this out and Mark K claimed a much needed victory.
I like Taluva. It is pretty quick, simple to explain but requires a fair bit of thought and forward planning. It scales from two to four players but both times I’ve played have been with three. Four player, there is more likelihood of all the tiles being played before anyone claims an immediate win, whereas in the two player game, it is a bit more tactical. Good stuff.