Taluva – Game of the Month for June!

Taluva


Taluva is a wonderful abstract tile-laying game with an adequately supportive theme. Players presumably take on the roles of gods or tribal chieftains on an isolated volcanic island. The island grows through ever-constant eruptions, while the players seek to lead their chosen people to grow in numbers and influence. The game ends either when all tiles are placed or when one player manages to use all of two different kinds of their pieces.

As Game of the Month, Taluva received a lot of play.  It was simple for everyone to learn, and several people were able to develop a real understanding of and strategy for the game.  Fifteen different people played it in 8 different games during the month, and they gave it an average rating of 7.67 on the BGG scale. 

Components and Setup

The most striking feature of Taluva are the set of amazing tiles used to build the island:
   Carcassone, I’m going to compare the two a little just to point the reasons why I like Taluva so much more

First, and most obviously, both games involve tile placement.  While the Carcassone tiles make a pretty little map, I much prefer the lush and multi-tiered landscape that you construct in Taluva.  The thickness of the tiles truly simulates the 3D landscape of Taluva’s volcanic island, which just feels far more “real” than the flat French countryside in Carcassone. 

Also, the tiles are the only randomness factor in both games, and in Carcassone, which tile you pull can have a drastic effect on the game.  Other than during the first couple of turns (when getting the right tile can get you to 3 spaces faster, thus allowing you to build a Temple sooner), that is not so much the case in Taluva.  Because no “matching” of adjacent tiles is required and because you need not build on the tile you just placed, getting particular tiles in Taluva tends to be far less important.  Most of the strategy involved in placing tiles has far more to do with how you use them rather than with which terrain is featured on them.

The biggest divergence between these two games comes in “scoring”.  In Carcassone, of course, the scoring is essentially a brutal area-majority affair where you have to calculate points awarded both as features are completed as well as at the end of the game (for the farmers).  It is fiddly and can be quite confusing to new players.  In Taluva, however, it is very simple to understand and intuitive.  But that is not to say that Taluva’s victory conditions are simplistic or one-dimensional, however, because having different numbers of three different buildings with three separate ways of placing creates a terrific wealth and depth of available strategy.

And in continuing to discuss strategy, I want to just take a few moments to point out a few of the different tactical and strategic options that make Taluva so challenging and so much fun.  For instance, you always need to evaluate whether you need to use your tile to screw with your opponent or to help build your position.  And if you use it to smash his settlement so
that it is too small to build a Temple, you are also helping him get closer to a third level where he could build a Tower.  You need to have a plan about which pieces you will try to get rid of, knowing that if you don’t succeed before all tiles are placed you need to be leading in Temples in order to win.  When do you back up and start a new settlement rather than investing in expanding one you already have in place?  Do you start a new settlement to place another Temple, or do you just enlarge the one you have and then use a volcanic eruption to split it in two?  There are just tons of both short- and long-term decisions that you have to make, as well as anticipating and countering the moves that your opponents will take.         

The Verdict!

Rules: Simple to teach and understand, intuitive yet deep.
Downtime: Turns are short and the game moves quickly – very little downtime. 
Length: Very quick, ranging from about 5-10 minutes for two experiened players up to about 40-45 minutes for four relatively new players.  Our average time was just over 20 minutes.
Player Interaction: Lots of opportunity to block and interfere with other players.  Interaction is extensive but there are also ways to protect yourself through tile and settlement placement. 
Weight: Light Medium – Simple rules but deep thinking.
GamerChris’ Rating: This is currently my favorite abstract strategy and tile placement game.  It is fun, challenging, and accessible, and I rate it a solid 8.  


 


Emile de Maat (Purple).

2 Comments


  1. Excellent review. I picked this game up as soon as it became available. My wife and I had picked it out for last year’s Essen preview. Who could pass on such a beautiful game with big, chunky tiles. Anyway, we’ve had it for a while but only just started playing. What a great little game. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more buzz for Taluva. I’m sure it will be making to the game table quite often in the near future. Thanks again for your review.


  2. Thanks!

    Yeah, I really think that it’s gotten pretty robbed as far as awards (SdJ especially) and notoriety goes. It’s definitely one of my favorite abstract games!

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