Design by Daniele Tascini & Dávid Turczi | Published by Board & Dice
1-4 Players | 60-120 min
Four millennia ago the ancient Pharaohs began work on the Temple of Amun-Ra. In Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun, join forces with these Pharaohs to lay the foundation of what will become the largest religious building in the world. Balance your actions from the base of the giant obelisk, Tekhenu while honoring the gods and gathering necessary resources to bring honor to the Egyptian civilization.
The single identifying feature of Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun is the giant obelisk overlooking the game’s board. As the game progresses, the sun changes causing the obelisk to cast a shadow over the game’s dice. As the shadow hits dice differently it alters their use and availability. I absolutely love it and it drew me right in. But… playing the obelisk is only part of the story in this game of dice drafting and Egyptian mythology.
The game takes place in over a series of rounds. The obelisk rotates every 2 rounds causing the dice to become pure, tanted or completely forbidden. As you draft dice for use you place them on a balance on your player board. Maintaining an effective balance of pure and tanted die is ideal as after 4 rounds you face the god Maat who challenges how the players have effectively balanced the use of the dice. The game ends after completing 2 Maat phases.
Each turn players draft dice from 1 of the 6 areas at the base of the obelisk. Once drafted the players then choose a god action associated with that section. These actions allow for a variety of results anywhere from gathering resources, adjusting your working population and its happiness to building statues honor the gods or completing a portion of the temple.
The dice drafting areas all reflect one of the Egyptian gods and all allow for unique actions.
The god Horus allows you to build a statue honoring a specific god. This will provide the player a benefit each time the action is taken by an opponent in the future.
Ra allows you to build a pillar in the temple and gain a certain amount of resources corresponding with the location of the pillar.
The god Hathor allows you to construct a building around the temple. This building interacts with with resource benefits available in the temple.
Bastet gives you the opportunity to hold a festival to increase the happiness of your people because happy workers are productive workers.
Finally, the Thoth god action gives you the opportunity to collect one or more cards from the card market. The allow for one-time bonuses, ongoing effects and additional ways to gather victory points (similar to end-game goals).
The game ends when the players have reached the end of the 2 scoring phases. The player with the most points being declared the winner.
Tekhenu is deep and rich dice-drafting strategy game. The production of the game is fantastic, full of high quality components and engaging design. It’s incredibly cool to see the giant obelisk rotate and effect the game play. Players are all equip with 3-D wooden buildings, pillars and statues to enrich the experience. The primary board and the individual player boards scream quality. This is a well done production.
As you might expect, Tekhenu is a heavier game with a decent learning curve. Having a good grasp on the different play areas and how they function will definitely help bring your strategy into focus. This will only come into focuses after a 2 or 3 plays. There are a number of different ways to approach the game strategically with an equal number of paths to victory so repayable is pretty high. Again, as expected, educating yourself on the iconography will also help play move a little swifter, but expect to keep the rulebook handy for awhile (which I found very well written and easy to follow).
In a 2-player game, the game play is a bit loose when it comes to decision making. While you may not be able to make the exact move you want to there will likely be something appealing left on the board when your turn comes back around. In comparison, the 3 and 4 player counts ratchets up the tension making the challenging of drafting the right dice at the right time real shine. The challenge to balance your drafted dice and the need to gain the tokens necessary to not only manipulate your dice and maintain your goals requires strong planning and forward thinking. I’ve seen it recommended using the “dummy” player from the solo mode in a 2-player game to tighten things up. I may tie this in on the next play through.
Tekenhu also features a solid solo mode. While playing solo, I never felt like I was missing out on any part of the game and I really enjoyed the variant.
I would encourage everyone to choose their opponents wisely. While a typical game does run around 60 minutes, those prone to apprehensive decision making can lead to late hours and various levels of frustration.
So what are the negatives? While the theme is visually engaging, I wouldn’t say the theme really engaged the gameplay. I’ve had a number of people disagree with me on this, but it seems a bit dry to me.
Tekenhu: Obelisk of the Sun is a terrific accomplishment. From the production to the decision making – there is a ton of value on the board. I doubt I would ever describe a strategic, resource collecting game that could last 2+ hours “fun”, but for the right audience looking for a quality game packed full of interesting elements and challenging decisions, Tekenhu is a really enjoyable game board experience.