I played Tikal a few weeks ago, and I loved it! I also played Eight-Minute Empire: Legends not too long ago, and they both share this common mechanic of Area Majority. Basically the idea is to have more of your dudes in an area than any other player. But it’s not like Risk. You’re not fighting (in the traditional sense of attacking) for these areas, you’re free to move in and out of them as you please, but you’re only rewarded if you have the most when scoring comes into play.
I’m not very good at these types of games, or at least I’m not good at figuring out a good strategy for them, and it may be for this reason that they fascinate me. See, with a lot of games, especially card games, I tend to pick up on strategy pretty quickly. I understand how one card might work with another, or how one effect might benefit the next. But with area majority it’s all about spreading out, but not spreading too thin. It’s about knowing where to place your pieces and when to let your opponent have it. And it’s not something I understand right away.
I think as a result, I want to play again and again and figure it out like a puzzle. So far I’ve only played a few of these games, but already there’s a lot on my radar: The Mask Trilogy (Tikal, Mexica and Java), Reiner Knizia’s tile-laying trilogy (Tigris & Euphrates, Through the Desert and Samurai), Torres, and so on. I especially want to try out Samurai.
Fascinated by a Mechanic is the first (and possibly the last) in a new series I’m doing about different types of mechanics that really fascinate or intrigue me.