Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture - Dastardly Review #128
Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture was designed by Will and Sarah Reed. It is published by Undine Studios.
Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico that creates beautiful handicrafts and this game is built around those crafts.
You win Oaxaca by having the most Victory Points from completed crafts in your Market Stall at the end of the final round.
Oaxaca is a game that is a beautiful as the crafts it is named for.
There are Project card decks for five crafts: Jewelry, Pottery, Textile, Tin and Woodcarving. Custom dice correspond to the resources needed to create the crafts.
A meeple is used to claim an Action from a set of Tourist cards.
Each player has a colorful and helpful Player Mat that guide you through the possible actions for the Rounds/Turns. The left side of the Player Mat is the Workshop where up to 3 Project cards can be crafted. The right side is the Market Stall where completed craft Projects are displayed.
Game play is made up of 3 Rounds.
At the start of each Round players roll their dice. They can reroll any of their dice one time. A Round is comprised of turns where the players spend a die.
A die is used to either Gather or Craft.
Gather is selecting a new craft Project from a deck by drawing two cards and keeping one. The New Project is added to your Workshop with Craft Cubes equal to the value of the Project.
Craft uses the die to remove a Craft Cube from ALL Projects that match that die type.
A Star is wild and can be used as any craft type but is also weaker.
Project Cards indicate their type in the top left hand corner. And their Value in the top right.
Their ability is described at the bottom.
Each Craft Type focuses their ability in a different area: Victory Points, Workshop, General Bonuses, Dice Manipulation and Player Interaction.
When the last Craft Cube is removed from a Project in the Workshop, the Project is completed and immediately moved to the Market Stall where the Project can be Activated.
At any time during a turn a player can:
- Convert a die to another result by 'pairing it'.
- Scrap (discard) a project.
- Activate up to 2 completed Projects by 'tapping' them.
- Place your meeple on a Tourist card to activate it once per Round.
When all dice have been used the Round ends and a bit of cleanup happens before the next Round starts. When the third Round ends the game is over and Victory Points are added up.
The player with the most Victory Points wins!
Oaxaca shows that it was made by designers that play a lot of games by including little extras that make the game easier and more enjoyable to play such as Reference Cards, Player Mats, Score Grid on the back of the Player Mats, simple easy to read text and a high quality rule book.
Oaxaca's game play is extremely well balanced.
Traditional game designs mechanics are cleverly reversed. For example, normally resources are added to projects while they are being constructed. In Oaxaca, this is flipped. Craft Cubes are added to the Projects when they enter the Workshop and represent needed resources. Dice and completed Projects then effect the needed resources. A couple cards allow you to add Craft Cubes to your opponent's Projects or shift Cubes between Projects. We really enjoyed this flip from the norm.
Oaxaca is full of smart design ideas that increase tension on decisions:
- A star being wild but also weaker than a specific craft icon.
- Craft Die remove Craft Cubes from all the Projects of that type. To maximize this ability players need to focus all of their Craft Projects on a single type at a time. Choose wisely!
- Completed Projects can be activated immediately but only once per Round.
- Use your last die or carry it over to the next Round and chose which face is up!
Oaxaca uses dice but really isn't a dice rolling game. It is a resource management and engine building game. Players evolve their strategy as the game progresses.
As your engine of completed Craft Projects is built, Oaxaca really accelerates. I'm always pleasantly surprised by how many Projects we are able to complete.
Players pay Oaxaca the highest possible compliment - wanting to play it again!
The Good: An awesome, beautiful game that we highly recommend.
The Bad: Oaxaca is difficult to find. We tracked down a copy at a convention.
The Dastardly: Doubling up on this card in the second Round...YES!