Trust and treachery strike a fine balance in this game of dice and cards for up to eight players, set among Aztec cities where warriors clash over who will control the precious cocoa bean supply.
|Otontin: Warriors of the Lost Empire||Red Tin Bot||Dice Game|
In The Box
Otontin combines great production value with a nice variety of components. The box is small but heavy, and we noticed right away that Red Tin Bot went to some expense to be sure their game was of high quality. First off, the dice. We love dice games to a fault and were immediately wooed by the look and feel of those included here. Packaged in the game are 15 dice in sets of red, green, and a tannish bronze color variation. Each die has a mix of faces printed with a warrior, temple, cocoa bean, or skull symbol. The dice feel great in your hand and appear to be printed in a way that won’t rub off or fade over time. You’ll also find a cloth bag for storing and holding the dice during games.
Packed in with the dice are tall stacks of cardboard cocoa bean and warrior tokens, really well designed and durably produced. The final elements included are card decks that serve more as signals for your intentions during a round than cards you draw and discard in other games. Otontin is designed for up to eight players and is ideally suited for large groups. Once you hand out the cards, each player holds just a few. There are eight color variations on the cards, which may be a bit too subtle for some people. We would have loved bigger splashes of color on each card, and possibly some shape or pattern variations to distinguish one player from another. There are two warrior cards for each player, and a combination of four Tactics cards per player to complete the game’s setup.
How It Plays
There are several recurring phases in Otontin, and the first is based almost entirely around the dice. One of our favorite dice-rolling games continues to be Steve Jackson’s Zombie Dice, which definitely shares some DNA with Otontin. In the so-called Campaign Phase players draw dice three-at-a-time from the bag, and roll them with the goal of recruiting warriors or gathering cocoa beans. Rolling the saboteur face on any die means that warriors you’ve gathered will defect to other cities, and if you rack up four saboteurs you’ll lose any previously rolled rewards and end your turn. It’s possible to roll through all 15 dice, but since the red dice each contain three saboteur faces you’re more likely to bust. At the end of this phase you hopefully have recruited a supply of cocoa beans and warriors to defend your city.
The following two phases involve dealmaking with other players and all-out war. The Strategy Phase is strictly social, and players talk about how they’ll cooperate or go after others around the table before playing Tactic Cards face down between their respective cities. A neat aspect of the Hand Card included in the game means that multiple players can form an alliance to crush one especially powerful opponent. That said, once the War Phase begins and each player’s Tactic Card is revealed, stated ambitions and alliances may change swiftly. Resolving battles is done with relatively simple math, so the fun and enduring part of Otontin is getting into other players’ heads and forming a plan of attack that leaves you holding the most cocoa beans when the dust settles. The game plays quick, and can play even quicker if you lower the threshold for how many cocoa bean must be stockpiled to win.
Otontin definitely feels like a great extension to the simple risk/reward formula of a game like Zombie Dice, and is ideal for large groups. Playing with less than 5 people isn’t going to be very satisfying, so consider this a game best suited for your biggest gatherings. The social aspects of Otontin’s Strategy and War phases really can make for some heated interaction around a table, so get ready to test those friendships!
Rolling the dice is awesome and I like that you can use cocoa beans as power over other players to convince them to take your side during a battle. Winning definitely isn’t just about having the biggest army, and you always wonder who you can trust in the final round.