Updated: Apr 12
Founders of Teotihuacan is a medium-weight 1-4 player eurogame designed by Filip Glowacz and published by Board&Dice featuring action selection, tile laying, resource management and more, with a reasonably strong theme of Mesoamerican city building.
Each of the game mechanics has a slight twist from what you might normally expect. When selecting an action, you must decide how much strength to put into it: depending on player count, you'll have 5/6 action discs in the first round (decreasing each round), so you could take 5/6 separate actions or just a couple. The extra twist is, if you take an action that already has discs on, it makes your action more powerful as if you'd put in more strength yourself.
At first, the tile laying aspect might look very familiar; with just a few different polyominoes involved and bonuses for covering certain spaces on your board. However, this isn't just a tessellation challenge. Firstly, the majority of your score will come by multiplying your temples in each quadrant of your city by the corresponding pyramid tiles in your central pyramid, meaning you must plan carefully to get the right types in the right places. This is made more challenging by the fact that your Architect meeple moves around the perimeter of your board each turn, and you can only build within the two quadrants closest to them.
As if that wasn't enough to think about, your resources aren't just piled up in front of you but placed on squares in your city. Each production building gets surrounded by the corresponding resources when you place it, meaning you want them to be in wide open spaces, but of course this will limit your potential spaces for placing out temples, and it's those that will score you points.
Finally, there are bonus tiles that can impact your decision making (requiring an action to be scored), and moving action bonuses for the first player to take an action. These help ensure that you'll never play the same game twice. You might have a long-term plan but the winner will probably be the player who best adapts to the opportunities as they arise...
While many tile-laying games end up with satisfying board coverage, and city building games will generally end up looking like sprawling metropolises, players will have to accept that their cities will look half-finished by the end. The scoring rewards you for focusing on one or two quadrants, and you surely won't finish your pyramid. Perhaps this is hinted at with the theme of being merely 'Founders' of the city! It might initially seem a bit odd thematically but mechanically it works well. The components and artwork by Chuy de Leon, Odysseas Stamoglou and Aleksander Zawada are clear and attractive, with a rulebook that explains most things clearly but frustratingly leaves some questions that require BoardGameGeek to clear up. A player aid would have helped with avoiding many first-game mistakes. Nevertheless, this is a strong game with good replayability that should give eurogame fans plenty of brain-burning enjoyment. And for solitaire play, the box includes a solo version designed by Dávid Turczi and Blazek Kubacki.
(Review by Matt Young)