Now that all those Mayan and Aztec apocalypses are over, we can get back to building pyramids for recreation instead of in an attempt to stave off the end of life as we know it.
An early adopter of this new recreational approach to Mesoamerican architecture is Blue Orange Games and their fantastic stacking/tiling game Aztack.
The game consists of 60 rectangular tiles that resemble dominoes. Instead of pips on each side of the tile, there are Aztec glyphs—images that represent important symbols in Aztec culture. The four glyphs (flower, water, deer, and flint) are combined in many ways and in five different colors: green, orange, grey, blue, and burgundy.
To start play, 12 tiles are arranged in a 2×6 rectangle in the middle of the table. Each player draws 12 tiles. On your turn, you place one of your tiles on the base of the pyramid or pass if there is no space for a legal move. If you pass, you can jump in later. Play proceeds clockwise until everyone must pass. The winner is the one with the fewest remaining tiles.
The rules for placing the tiles are simple and well-illustrated by the rules. You must place your tile so that it bridges two tiles beneath it. The tile you place must also match both of the glyphs OR both of the colors. If it matches all colors and glyphs you get to discard an additional tile from your hand.
The simplicity of the rules belies a wonderfully complex and shifting matrix of choices. There is a great balance between making moves that will limit the choices of your opponents and those that will keep the board open for your future placements. Luck plays a sizable role but there is enough choice to develop strategies in order to manage the random elements.
Aztack is well made and beautifully illustrated. It is fascinating to watch as the pyramid rises from the base. Each one is unique and really very beautiful.
And Major Fun…
2-4 players. Ages 7+
Aztack was designed by Brad Ross & Jim Winslow and is © 2014 by Blue Orange Games.