Brief Overview – Cacao

Brief Overview

pic2404009_mdCacao is a tile laying game in which you are the chief of a tribe leading your people to prosperity by way of the fruit of the gods, the cacao plant. Cacao is a game for 2-4 players, it was designed by Phil Walker-Harding, and is published by Z-Man Games. Each player has their own set of village tiles, each of which has some configuration of workers printed on the four sides (always totals four workers on the tile). There are also jungle tiles of various types, cacao farms, markets, mines, temples, etc… The board starts with two jungle tiles. Each turn the player places one of their village tiles adjacent to a jungle tile. Any side of the village that has workers that are adjacent to the jungle tile, activate that jungle tile for each worker symbol. For example, if you place your village that has one worker on each of the four sides, and one of those sides is adjacent to a cacao farm and another is adjacent to a two-gold market, then you can activate the workers to grow a cacao fruit, then sell that cacao fruit at the market for two gold. Or, if you are at your cap of five cacao fruit, you could instead activate the market first to sell a cacao fruit for two gold, then activate the farm to replace the fruit that you just sold. If there are any “gaps” in the board, i.e. a space where two village tiles could both be adjacent to a jungle tile, then a jungle tile is placed in that space, again activating any village workers that are adjacent (including those of your opponent). In this way the final board is a checkerboard of jungle and village tiles. Once all of the village tiles have been placed, points are calculated based on your position on the river, the number of sun tokens that you have, and which temples your control. All of these things are converted into gold, and the player with the most gold is the winner.

Discussion

I find Cacao to be very interesting. There is not a whole lot of player interaction, aside from vying for control of the temple tiles, but you do have to be careful how you choose to place your village tiles and how you add the jungle tiles to the board as well. You want to maximize what your villages are doing while also not triggering free actions for your opponents. Once again, a relatively small box packs in quite a lot of game in my opinion. I apologize for the shortness of the discussion, but I plan on writing a full review of Cacao in the near future.

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