Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar

With a 7.9 rating on BGG and currently the 39th highest ranked board game, Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar is the 8th highest rated game I've let go from my collection. That's excluding any I've gotten back or legacy games I've completed.

Now I'll save their own separate posts for each of the others in due time. There's always a reason why something good leaves but the reasons vary drastically. In the case of Tzolk'in the reason was Food Chain Magnate.

Don't get me wrong, on the surface the similarities between the two are minimal. Both have an economic aspect to the game but that's about it. Tzolk'in is an innovative worker placement where you have to manage the current available placements, the costs involved and the eventual return. Food Chain Magnate is an economic simulation where players are running Food Chains, they fight to induce and fulfill demand through marketing, restaurant placement, and their own unique competitive advantages in order to survive and win. Not all that similar.

Nonetheless, FCM is the reason I'm getting rid of Tzolk'in. While I enjoyed the promise of Tzolk'in, my biggest complaint was that it was absolutely way too thinky without the associated payoff. The game takes 45 minutes to teach, a full game or two to understand the real impact of your actions and the appropriate weight to put in different areas of the game, takes 4 hours to play, requires 4 players to be optimal, and player interaction is limited to taking each others spots. 

Contrast that with FCM takes 25 minutes to teach, a full game to understand the impact of your actions, takes 4 hours to play, is optimal with 3 or 4, player interaction is absolutely key to the game, and the payoff on those 4 hours was amazing!

While I've been planning to play Tzolk'in more to see if takes further plays to really get to the payoff, after playing Food Chain Magnate I simply cannot see why I would ever again invest 4 hours into a heavy, thinky, economic game like Tzolk'in, when I can instead spend those 4 hours on Food Chain Magnate. If we were comparing to other games the linear "play this, not that" wouldn't be as clear to me. I rarely evaluate games on a pure "what do I like better" basis. Rather I always evaluate and purge my collection based on the principle of whether I would regret playing game Y, because that time could instead be spent playing games X and Z. Don't get me wrong, variety is a good thing, but only variety amongst equals. 

For instance, I'm happy to own Domaine, Five Tribes and Kingdom Builder for when I want to play a mid-weight euro, that takes around 60-90 minutes, teaches in about 15, with a heavy emphasis on managing objectives on a variable board. But I got rid of Tobago which falls in the same category because I felt I would always rather play one of the former 3. Similarly here, I'm not trading Tzolk'in because I prefer Five Tribes (even though I do), those two games are for completely different situations. But Food Chain Magnate is a different story. Possibly the best game our group has played by consensus of the 4 of us that did....although I'll grant additional plays are required before we're willing to double down on that opinion.


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