Tekhenu Review


18 June 2021
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All in the Balance

Like a crossover album we didn’t know we were waiting for, Tekhenu appears as a bold challenge to gamers everywhere – and that challenge is ‘do you like it heavy?’. Daniele Tascini (Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar) and Dávid Turczi (Anachrony) are both the kind of designers who like to hang out in the top couple of hundred spots on the BGG rankings. So when you bring them together, is it destined to be a chart topper?

Mostly, yes. Tekhenu is an extremely polished and complex Eurogame. At its heart it uses dice placement or activation to trigger a number of abilities around the board. These dice are rolled and place around the huge obelisk in each god action area to dictate whether the dice is pure, tainted or forbidden. This dice status is based on whether they’re in the shadow or shade of the obelisk, or in the light.

Players pick a dice from around the obelisk to take that god action. These actions are things like building in the temple (points for matching colours and rows), or in the quarry (gaining resources and resource limits), building statues to gods (gain resources when others take god actions) or even just making your population a bit happier. If you don’t want to take a god action, you can simply take resources that match the dice you’ve picked. 

Every two rounds the obelisk rotates one slot, changing the status of the dice around it. Every two turns of the obelisk, there’s a Maat phase – where you are judged. Players store their tainted and pure dice on the scales on their player board, and those with the most balanced souls will be the first player next turn. If your soul is very unbalanced there’s a chance you’ll be docked a few points. Points come in the form of on the board markers for actions, cards picked up from the market that offer end game point scoring, or one-off bonuses.

There’s a lot of rules to frontload here, but once you have all of the actions down, the flow of the game is very pleasing. Most actions are expensive, and keeping the balance between your resources just right can be the difference between a win and a loss. Also, don’t forget about the bread tax – hungry workers can ruin your lead. Ultimately though, as you’re only going to be taking 16 actions the entire game, every move ends up counting for a great deal. Like the best Eurogames in the ‘heavy’ category, Tekhenu becomes simple on repeated playthroughs, allowing players to build up game plans and strategies which can be executed exactly as intended. You’ll be rewarded for getting over the initial hump of learning the game – and we hope the designers will be rewarded with a top 100 position for it too. 

Christopher John Eggett

PLAY IT? YES 

Tekhenu is the kind of big, crunchy Eurogame that we love. It’s a game that once you’re in the flow of its various and interlocking systems, something magic starts happening in your brain.

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Terramara…

Different systems, but a similar weight. If you’re looking for another satisfying bite of the heavy Eurogame cherry, then Tekhenu will deliver.

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Designer: Daniele Tascini & Dávid Turczi

Publisher: Board & Dice

Time: 60 minutes

Players: 1-4

Ages: 14+

Price: £53

What’s in the box?

  • 1 Large obelisk
  • 1 Game board
  • 4 Player boards
  • 4 Player aid sheets
  • 26 Dice
  • 88 Cards
  • 40 Buildings
  • 32 Pillars
  • 24 Statues
  • 16 Cubes
  • 8 Discs
  • 8 Meeples
  • 200+ Cardboard tokens

This article originally appeared in issue 48 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.

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