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Teotihuacan Late Preclassic Period review


Quick Look - Teotihuacan: Late Preclassic Period

Designers: Rainer Ahlfors, Andrei Novac, Daniele Tascini
Artists: Magdalena Klepacz, Paulina Wach
Publisher: Board&Dice
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 90-120

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Review:

This review is for the Teotihuacan expansion "Late Preclassic Period." If you aren't familiar with the base game, you can see my thoughts here. To summarize, this is a brilliant worker placement game where your dice travel clockwise round the board, activating buildings to gain materials that are used to build a giant pyramid in the center of the city. It's a heavy/mathy game, but one that clicks fairly quickly once you start playing.  

This expansion contains five new modules for the base game to add even more variability to each play. Teotihuacan is essentially about a society that thrives on caffeine. Workers live on cocoa and work themselves to death building a monument to the gods. The Late Preclassic Period feels like they are still doing that, but the "cocoa" is now going up their noses, and production is way up. There aren't too many games where you can score 200 points. It's kind of insane, but gloriously so. LPP is basically a jetpack for your Teotihuacan experience.  


Rules and Setup:


Each module is easy to learn and incorporate. This adds a few variant buildings and a couple more boards that relate to them. The pyramid tile offer is now on a separate board with the decoration tiles. The only real difference in setup time is picking one of the two priests you're dealt along with your resource tiles. Priests give you a superpower and a caveat. These abilities will largely determine your play style throughout the game, so choosing can be hard.

After the first time, I could remember all the details of setup. It's not bad at all.

Theme and Mechanics:

This expansion adds five modules:

Priests and Priestesses


This adds 16 unique player powers, each with a caveat (6 of them are only for solo mode). These powers change the game a lot. They can affect cocoa costs, allow you to keep all your bonus tiles, grant more materials under certain conditions, or even allow you to treat other players' workers as your own when using a grid. They're all overpowered, like everything else in this expansion. Everything mostly balances out. The god of war is the exception. He gets an extra point every time you score something. There are so many microtransactions that he can be worth about 40 points. His caveat is that workers must each be fed one additional cocoa, so somewhere between nine and twelve throughout the game. He's house-ruled as an option for learning players only.

Height of Development 

Old building (top) is replaced with the bottom one.

This adds an orange temple space to the Nobles building. This new temple awards increasingly powerful technology-like abilities like gaining a cocoa every time you activate a production building or improving your decoration action.


Some steps allow you to move one of your workers a couple of spaces counterclockwise or add a pip to a worker. It's an excellent addition, but there are no new discovery tiles for orange temple bonuses. You can only advance using the orange temple or a wild temple. This is probably to balance this temple's more powerful rewards.   

Seasons of Progress


This adds season tiles (in the top left of pic). The game takes place over three epochs. Each epoch, there will be one season tile that changes the rules a bit. There are eight total, but only three are used in each game.
1: 4-value workers cost 1 less cocoa during the eclipse.
2: Gain 2 points when scoring on the Avenue of the Dead.
3: After Ascension, new workers can be placed on any building.
4: Do not count workers of your own color when paying or gaining cocoa to do a main action.
5: When moving up on a temple track, you can spend two cocoa to move up on a temple track.
6: Increases points for the pyramid track.
7: Changes movement from 1-3 spaces to 2-4. This one changes gameplay a lot.
8: Does nothing.

Architecture

Top old - bottom new - Left is the new offer board.
The new decorations board has a chart like the production spaces. Originally, having more workers there provided a gold discount. Now, depending on the number of workers and their values, you can decorate, gain discovery tiles, get gold discounts, and move up on the temple tracks.

Development

Old building (top) is replaced with the bottom one.
The new pyramid construction building also has a grid that uses worker numbers and values to determine what level you can build, how many points you get, and also provides bonuses like cocoa, extra points, and free unlocks for praying workers.

Teotihuacan has always had great thematic incorporation. LPP doesn't change that, but there is a missed opportunity. This is supposed to be later in time than the base game. The first thing that would imply is new technology, but there are no new technology tiles. New bonus abilities come into play from priests or worshipping in the orange temple. I guess new technology is implied. Construction gets more efficient, but not from tech tiles. Maybe the orange temple is a UFO cult? That would explain the non-tech bonuses. Some steps abduct you and drop you somewhere else. Weird experiments could explain the rapid aging. I'm going to go with that.

Gameplay:

The flow is pretty much the same as before, except you can get more done and score more points. I recommend using all the modules together. They are all pretty small, and using some without others can have a negative impact. For instance, a lot of the new stuff makes it easier to advance on temples. If you use the new buildings without the fourth temple, everybody is probably going to hit the top of each temple track. Using the temple without the buildings, nobody's likely to hit the second discovery tile. I think this should have been three modules: Priests, Seasons, and the other three combined. I like the way they all work together. I doubt we'll play them separately again, but it's cool to have the option.   

One thing this really needs is a personal board to track bonuses. In my last game, I had four modifiers on production spaces scattered around the board. Every time I produced, I got 1 additional point + 1 cocoa +  another cocoa + 1 building material of my choice + another point because I was using the god of war. All that is on top of the grid reward, which is highly variable. It's easy for something to get lost in the shuffle. That's not an expansion thing; the base needs it, too.

Artwork and Components:



The artwork is excellent and matches perfectly with the base. Component quality is great. This includes new meeples for the temple tracks and smaller markers for the pyramid, Avenue of the Dead, and score tracks. Previous discs were a little big for the spaces and required stacking, so the smaller discs are a nice touch. The new temple board is beautiful, but a little bigger than necessary. They could have incorporated the tile offerings board to save table space.

The Good:
  • Doesn't significantly affect setup time.
  • It supercharges the game, adds a ton more variability and even more options.
  • Priests and season tiles keep things fresh by slightly changing the game every round.
  • Easy to learn.
  • It's modular, so you can decide how much of it you want to use.
  • The new small markers are surprisingly pleasant to use.
  • Meeples are cooler than discs.

The Bad:
  • Takes up more table space than necessary.
  • Still doesn't play 5.
  • Some modules don't work well without others.
  • No new tech tiles.

The Other: 

Some priests add a little more luck to the game. Some powers are safer than others. For instance, one priest gets bonuses when they take mask tiles, but they can't take any other kind of bonus tile. Masks are seeded randomly, so you might see a bunch in one game and hardly any in the next. If player one's power isn't working out and the others' are, it can be pretty challenging to keep up. If you like working around obstacles, even a misbehaving priest can be fun to play. I rarely like anything that increases the influence of luck, but priests are pretty fun.

Final Thoughts:

Late Preclassic Period is an excellent addition to Teotihuacan. I wouldn't say it's compulsory, but I like what they did with it. I get bored with things very quickly, but this thing is burnout proof. The base already used tiles to change what you start with and your starting position. With the priests and season tiles, every game, and even every round is a little different.

The new buildings give you a lot to think about. The bonuses for building or decorating with high-value workers change the way you look at the board. Your plans become more intricate, but you'll still have to adapt and crunch a bunch of numbers every turn to make sure you're not missing any opportunities. There are more hard decisions, more ways to get what you need, and a lot more points. Somehow, the weight feels about the same.

For Players Who Like:

Variable player powers, games that change with every play, hefty euros, more options, "cocoa," and caveats.



Check out Teotihuacan: Late Preclassic Period on:

                




Stephen Gulik - Reviewer

Stephen Gulik is a trans-dimensional cockroach, doomsday prophet, author, and editor at sausage-press.com. When he’s not manipulating energy fields to alter the space-time continuum, he’s playing or designing board games. He has four cats and drinks too much coffee.

See Stephen's reviews HERE.
Teotihuacan Late Preclassic Period review Teotihuacan Late Preclassic Period review Reviewed by S T Gulik on November 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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