Review: Tiwanaku

In Tiwanaku, you will explore and cultivate unknown territory for which you get points if you honor Pachamama's wishes!


Sit Down! Games




Game overview

In Tiwanaku, you go on an exploration of the Andes. You try to satisfy the goddess Pachamama by discovering and cultivating land!

During a round, you may move one of your Quechua meeples on the game board. You may move over tiles with crops, but as soon as you land on a tile with no crop or no terrain, your movement stops. You also may not move over fields with other meeples. After moving, you may discover if you end on an empty field. This is where the game's funniest gimmick comes in right away, the Pachamama wheel. You spin the wheel so that the row and column symbols match and see which terrain type emerges upon discovery. Then you move your scoring disc for that terrain type 1 space further and get points equal to the number of discs at that level.

Besides discovery, you can also start predicting. Here you have to think smart, or take a risk. You may predict as many non-crop tiles with your own meeples on them as you wish, until you get one wrong. You are going to predict what kind of crop belongs on the tile. An opponent looks at the wheel when predicting to see the number that appears with the correct column and row symbol. If the player guesses correctly you get that number of points and an offering token of that crop. If you get it wrong you get that number of minus points!

Now of course you are wondering how you can know which crop should lie where. Terrain tiles always lie together in clusters that can be up to 5 in size. Each cluster can have only 1 of each crop. The same type of terrain tiles and crops from other clusters can never lie diagonally or right next to each other. This allows you to deduce which crop belongs where. For example, if you have a grass cluster of 5 and crops 1,2,4 and 5 are already there, then you know there should be a 3! You can also look at the stock of terrain tiles to know how many are still to come.

The game ends as soon as the last terrain tile is placed. After that, everyone may make 1 more prediction for 1 pawn and one last sacrifice. The player with the most points wins the game!

Our thoughts

Tiwanaku is an incredibly beautiful looking game with a wonderful, original gimmick. But this game is not as innocent as it seems. In fact, Tiwanaku is a deduction game, but also a big brain burner. As such, the game is perfect for fans of The Search for Planet X and Sudoko, but will certainly not appeal to everyone.

The rules of Tiwanaku are quite easy to explain and simple to learn, but the game itself, on the other hand, is difficult to master. The puzzle in Tiwanaku is one that requires a lot of brain power. Even the advanced puzzler will find an enjoyable challenge in Tiwanaku. That said, this game is really only suitable for players who enjoy thinking during a board game. Do you prefer playing a casual game where you can chat between turns? Then you better skip Tiwanaku. If you are not 100% focused on the game, your actions will feel pretty meaningless. This is a game in which you have to go all the way. Not everyone will feel like doing that.

Tiwanaku is a good game. It looks nice, the Pachamama wheel is original and works incredibly well thanks to the scenario discs. This is not just a gimmick, this is amazingly well thought out! We were very impressed by this. While playing, the wheel can sometimes feel like a hindrance, but it's still a fun part of the game. The scenario discs also provide plenty of replayability. In fact, there are as many as 20 of them! Is that still not enough? Then you can also play Tiwanaku cooperatively to throw some more variety into the mix. If you like this game, then you will definitely be busy for a while with the variety this game has to offer.

Do you want something different from an easy puzzle game and feel like putting your brain to work? Do you feel like you're done with all the deduction games like The Search for Planet X? Then Tiwanaku is a game for you! Do you prefer to play a relaxing puzzle game while enjoying a good conversation? Then you better skip Tiwanaku. 

Pros and cons

+ Simple rules
+ Challenging puzzle, even for the experienced puzzler! 
+ The Pachamama wheel is original and well thought out 
+ High replayability

- Can be too hard for the casual player


This game has been kindly gifted to us for review purposes by Sit Down! Games.