Published by Gigamic and distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames, Quetzal is an Aztec-themed worker placement set collection game with a gimmick: at the start of each round, the 2-5 players roll their two-sided (black/white) meeples like dice. This will probably ring alarm bells for many 'serious' gamers who will immediately write it off as a 'family' game, but along with this novelty value there is a medium-weight strategy game with considerable depth comparable to Stone Age (Hans im Gluck).
Players are trying to score points throughout the game by collecting sets of item cards and cashing them in, making use of special ability upgrades to help them, and trying to earn enough money to be able to afford the best action spots. Some action spots just need a worker plus money, while others require multiple workers; but other players will be able to 'bump' yours if they commit more workers to the task... For nearly all of the spots, it matters whether you have rolled your meeples onto their black or white sides. This means that the choice of where to send your meeples each turn is affected by many variables, and there's potential to make clever moves by noticing what your opponents can and can't do.
Having said that, if someone rolls a lot of meeples on their side, that means they can use them as either black or white, which is a significant advantage. What's more, any that are standing up gain an extra coin, which is a valuable bonus. Suddenly, rolling technique becomes very important! It can feel like Pass the Pigs (Asmodee/Hasbro) but actually there are plenty of ways of using your workers however they fall, so the rolling can never be blamed for losing the game (sorry if you were hoping to use that as an excuse!).
With Quetzal, Alexandre Garcia has designed an engaging, fun, strategic, game that feels at once both familiar yet fresh. And there's some great Aztec-themed art from Nastya Lehn. You can check the game out online on Board Game Arena, but of course you'll need the very well produced physical game to see if you can perfect your meeple rolling technique!
(Review by Matt Young)
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