08 January 2022
No llama drama here
This article originally appeared in issue 62 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Llamas are a creature that many people have a great affection for – basically because they’re weird fluffy things who look like a kind of wool-loaf when they sit down. Whether you’re pro-llama or llama-agnostic, you might come to love them slightly less as they get in the way of your expanding farmland.
Llama Land is a tile-layer with a mix of resource collection and management. Players spend their time laying tiles (in a variety of polyomino shapes) to extend, or raise, the shared hillsides. Whatever you cover (in terms of the cocoa, corn and potatoes) you get to pick up a matching token, for of these can be cashed in to pick up a point scoring llama card for the same type.
If you cover a settlement however, things get a bit more interesting. Players can then pick one of the various peoples available to them in the market – adding it to their small engine of workers who will be able to do useful things like give them more potatoes when collecting potatoes, or trade in potatoes for corn directly. This touch of engine building is further augmented by the use of tiered scoring cards. Players add their coloured token to the ‘goal’ they’re trying to achieve (more than four potato-themed llama cards, two or more llamas on level two, and so on) – with a first-come-first-served approach. You’ll get more points for committing early (although, you can shift your token about on your turn) and this adds an interesting bit of potential friction into the game that is, for the most part, entirely open.
That openness is also where you’ll feel the game’s weaknesses too. Your three different shapes are all available to you at all times, as is everything from the worker market, as is the scoring options. This can make your choices feels at once very broad – leading to long pauses of analysis – and also a little meaningless in that you can do pretty much anything. The goals are amusing (having two very far away llamas by the shortest distance for example) but our games didn’t find us swapping our goals as often as you’d think. While there is a tactical element in being able to do this, the arc of play is that of a classic Eurogame, in that you’re usually working towards what you started off working towards.
It’s an interesting and extremely low conflict experience despite all the hinge points where these interactions could squeak out. And that’s fine – llama’s aren’t as mean-spirited as they’re often characterised, so why should this game be? One for those who prefer the petting zoo to the safari.
Christopher John Eggett
If the llama theme doesn’t draw you in straight away, then a slightly thinkier tile-layer than your average outing will. A gentle wander along the llama-covered slopes.
Like Phil Walker-Harding’s park builder that came before, there’s a certain gentle pleasure to solving the puzzles at the heart of this game.
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Publisher: Lookout Games
Time: 45 minutes
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