Doug Adams writes:
Publisher: Hans Im Gluck
Yucata is a simple game for 2 to 4 players. Each player takes the role of a Mayan priest approaching the temple. They are trying to reach the temple in such a way to avoid nasty spirits while encountering the good ones - one of the more obscure gaming themes.
The components are simple and attractive. There is a deck of 28 playing cards, a set of seven for each player. A medium sized game board is folded out to reveal a simple path of spaces, spiralling inwards to a central point. There are about 40 spaces from the start to finish. A set of stones, in white and blue colours, are placed on the spaces - one per space. The first four spaces are left blank, while a special red stone is put on the final space in the centre of the board. Four more coloured stones representing the priests are placed on the first space.
The game is very straightforward - each player on his turn simply plays a card and moves his priest forward. Any stones passed or landed on are collected and kept in front of that player. The number on the card (1 to 5) indicates the number of spaces to be moved. There are two special cards, which are described below.
It all sounds easy so far. Here is the catch - each light stone you collect is worth one point, however each blue stone you collect is worth a variable number of negative points. The first blue stone is worth -1, the second -2, then -3 and so on. If you have four blue stones, they are collectively worth -10 points. Luckily there are several more white stones than blue!
The two special movement cards are the dagger, and the '?'. The dagger allows you to take your piece and move it one space past the leader. Great for catch up moves. The '?' allows a player to break a basic rule of the game. The rule is a card played must not be the same type of card as the previous card played. So if Fred plays a '3', Wilma playing next cannot play a '3' unless it is the only card she is holding. The '?' card does allow the previously played card to be copied.
As the players play their cards, their hands will dwindle down to nothing. When this happens they get their seven cards back again. The game will end when a player lands on, and claims, the red stone in the centre.
Players tally up their points, adding white stones and subtracting blue. The highest total wins. Whoever claims the red stone may cancel a blue stone, which is very nice.
All in all this is a fun game that will provide 15 minutes of intriguing play. It's not a game you will play all night, it's the sort of game you would wind down an evening with - and by that criteria it's one of the better games of it's type. My only gripe is the game is just a little overproduced. It looks great, but it would have been better as a smaller game at a lower cost.