Brief Overview – Taluva

Brief Overview


92ca7d_9fcda51798654683996c0871455f0822Taluva
 is a territory building, tile laying game with a twist. You can build up as well as out. Taluva is played by 2-4 players and was designed by Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle. My copy of the game was by Rio Grande Games, but Ferti is the current publisher. In Taluva players take turns placing tiles around or on top of the existing island. Each tile consists of a volcano and two other terrain spaces. Tiles placed to expand the footprint of the island must share an edge with another tile. Tiles placed to expand the height of the island must overlap at least two tiles, and the volcano on the new tile must be directly above a volcano on one of the tiles under it. No overhanging terrain is allowed. Tiles may be placed over top of existing huts which are then destroyed (removed from the game, not back to the player), provided that they are not wiping out a complete village. Towers and temples may not be covered over. Once the terrain is placed, the player plays one or more buildings consisting of huts, temples, and towers. To start a new village a hut must be placed at sea level, on an empty hex (not necessarily on the tile just played). A player may also expand an existing village by choosing a terrain type and placing huts on each space that matches the chosen terrain that is adjacent to the existing village. If this causes huts to be placed at level two or higher, then huts equal to the level are placed on the space (i.e. on level three, three huts would be placed). The player may also play a temple which must be placed in an existing village (with no other temple in it already) that has buildings in three or more hexes. Towers are similar in that there has to be an existing village which can not have another tower in it, but towers may only be placed at level three or higher. If a player does not have enough buildings to complete a move then they can not choose that move, and if a player is literally unable to place any building on their turn, then they lose the game instantly. The game ends in one of two ways; the official end-game is when all of the terrain tiles have been placed the game ends and the player with the most temples is the winner (tie goes to most towers and then most huts). The “quick” victory happens when one player plays all of two types of their buildings, then that player wins immediately.

Discussion

When I first obtained Taluva and played it, I didn’t really grasp the tactical nature of the game. There are many levels of strategy involved and a lot of decisions that must be made each turn starting with where to place your terrain tile. If you place the terrain tile in a way that your opponent can exploit, then you give them an advantage. In general I’ve found that trying to keep the opponent at sea level as long as possible while giving yourself options to expand up is the best approach. Typically a player tries to win by placing all of their temples and towers (you have three and two respectively), and each player’s goal should be not just to play out their buildings, but also to inhibit the ability of the other players to do the same. The game is really brutal with just two players, as any wrong move can give the opponent a deep advantage. Then it becomes up to the opponent to make a mistake so that you can catch back up.

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