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Tabletop Game Review – Quetzal

Quetzal by Gigamic
Price: ~$35.00
2 to 5
30 to 75 minutes
Perfect for:
Families and groups who enjoy intermediate strategic resource allocation and set collection games.

Quetzal is a game of exploration and rare antiquities! Players assume control of an excavation team comprised of two types of workers: archaeologists and adventurers. These treasure-seekers must make calculated decisions about where to invest their time and energy to collect the most valuables, but also ensure they are able to sell them for a profit.

To begin Quetzal, two to five players each collect their set of meeples plus starting money (coins). Then, all players simultaneously roll their meeples and their resulting orientation determines they type of worker they are: black side is adventurer, white side is archaeologist, on its side or standing is wild. The board is filled with artifact cards in various locations and procurable upgrades that can give players an immediate or long-term benefit.

On a players’ turn, they must assign one (or more) of their workers, and possibly coins, to a space on the board which will determine what actions they will take at the end of the round. Such actions include the acquisition of artifact cards, the selling of collected artifact sets for victory points, or other benefits. Most spaces can only be occupied by a specific type of worker (archaeologist or adventurer), so players must think carefully about where to expend their resources. Furthermore, some locations are first-come, first-serve meaning only one player can occupy it while others employ an auction-style: players can “bid” on how many workers to dedicate to that space (i.e., three adventurers) to collect the rewards associated with the location. And finally, some spaces are universally accessible.

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Players will collect artifact cards and eventually turn them in to score VP. The more cards of a particular type a person sells (up to three) the more points the set is worth. Of course, some card types are rarer than others, making their value higher. At the end of five rounds, the player with the most victory points wins the game.

What works in Quetzal is the light, but highly interactive worker placement mechanic. The combination of exclusive locations coupled with auction spots results in more player engagement and strategy than other similar games might provide. It behooves players to really keep an eye on the competition in terms of their worker pool and collected artifacts to make informed decisions regarding the most efficient and optimal next moves. Also, when one person outbids another player for an auction, the “losing” player gets their meeples returned to them which they can then reallocate to the board. This adds to the unpredictable nature of the proceedings, in a good way. Finally, the meeple-rolling gimmick (and it is that) oddly works—there’s a bit of thrill in the luck of seeing what types of workers everyone will have access to each round.

Players who ultimately don’t like competitive resource management, or prefer less luck in their games, might not enjoy Quetzal as much as others. While the level of aggression is relatively light, the exclusivity and bidding elements can certainly derail other players’ well-laid plans which could cause for some frustration. Next, while it is minimal, rolling the meeples is essentially like rolling dice, meaning future plans of action are subject to how the meeples land at the beginning of the round—a “bad” roll could limit options. Finally, Quetzal falls very neatly on the complexity scale: it’s not really an introductory title, but nor is it overly complex so the intended audience is a bit specific.

Quetzal is a great mid-level worker placement game. The gameboard has just the right amount and balance of locations across various types to keep the play exciting, interactive, and snappy. Recommended for introductory gaming groups/families looking to level up their collection.

Recommended if you like: Ticket to Ride, Lords of Waterdeep, Sushi Go

Final Grade: A

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