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How To Play Zapotec

zapotec

Zapotec is played over just 5 rounds on a board representing 3 regions around a central area where pyramids can be built. There are also spaces for Trade Tiles and the Sacrifice Track. Victory Points (VPs) are recorded on a track around the perimeter. VPs are scored by constructing buildings in scoring zones, possibly amplified by Pyramids, matching targets in Rituals and by being far along the sacrifice Track.

Set Up

Each Region has 3 separate bands of Terrain : Plains, Hills and Forests. Each of these 9 sections has 5 spaces showing one of the 3 building types : Cornfields, Villages and Temples. If there are only 3 or 2 players then 1 or 2 of these spaces are not used. There will always be 1 of each building type in each section. Buildings of the appropriate type are set out on the spaces.

The Trade Tiles are sorted into 3 piles : I, II and III placed on their space on the board and the top 3 drawn and placed face up alongside their stack. These will enable the gathering of more resources or the swapping of types.

There are 9 scoring tiles : 1 for each Region, Terrain and Building Type. Randomly draw a number of these equal to the number of players plus 1 and place them on the board. These will be used when chosen to gain points from the Pyramid pieces that get built.

3 of the 10 Ritual Cards are drawn and placed on the board. The rest are not used. These will bestow bonus points at the end of the game if you have placed a token on them by performing a ritual.

Eah player has a player board with a Palace, 9 Houses, 6 Pyramid pieces – 1 large, 2 middle and 3 top, one each of the basic resources : Wood, Brick and Stone and 5 player discs : 1 to mark their VPs, 1 their progress on the Sacrifice Track and 3 to denote which Ritual they have performed.

Finally the Action Cards which determine what you can do each turn. The deck of 27 is shuffled and 1 is placed in the “Scoring Space” on the board. Then a number of cards equal to the number of players plus 1 are placed face up next to the board and a mini Action deck of 4 more cards face down alongside. Each player is then dealt a hand of between 4-6 cards depending on how many are playing.

Playing A Round

Each player plays an Action Card simultaneously. The one with the lowest Turn Order No. shown on the bottom of the card will go first followed by the others in ascending order.

The turn will consist of taking income i.e. resources. The player mat has a 3x3 grid with each row and column being headed by one of the 3 basic resources : Wood, Brick and Stone. When a player builds a building its tile is put in one of these 9 spaces. The Action Card has a Resource type at its head. You choose to draw resources from the row or column headed by this type. You receive the header resource plus any more displayed on your buildings in that row or column. For the first round this will just be the header resource as no buildings have been built yet.

Let’s See Actions

The second part of the turn consists of taking Actions and then Construction. Any number of Actions can be completed as long as you have the Resources to complete them. Also completeing some Actions may enable others. All Actions must be complete before you construct any Buildings. The Actions are :-

Buy Trade Tiles. You spend 1,2 or 3 gold to buy a tile from Row I, II or III. You can buy a maximum of 1 tile from each row on a turn. Type I tiles are single-shot that provide Resources immediately, Type II give a special ability that can be used once per turn and Type III are more powerful special abilities with varied effects.

Build Pyramid. With 1 Brick, 1 Wood, 1 Stone and a Priest you can build 1 level of a Pyramid either on an empty Pyramid space or a smaller piece on an already laid bigger piece. You can lay pieces on top of other players pieces. The maximum height is 3. If you lay the base piece you can choose from the available scoring tiles which one will be associated with it. At game end you will score VPs for every building you have of the corresponding type times the number of pieces you have in that Pyramid. Plus you get a bonus of 5 VPs per piece if the Pyramid is complete.

Perform a Ritual. If you have already built at least 1 Pyramid piece you can perform a ritual. To do this spend a priest token and mark the ritual with one of your player discs. At game end you will score bonus VPs if you have met the criteria on the Ritual card. You can place discs on all 3 Rituals if you wish but you must have laid at least 1 Pyramid piece for each Ritual. It will cost a Priest each time plus 1 gold for every other player who already has their disc there.

Make a Sacrifice. Spend a Priest and between 1-5 Corn and move your player disc up the Sacrifice Track 1 step per Corn. You collect all the bonuses you pass through which can be: VPs, Resources or reduced costs of other Actions. At game end the top 3 players furthest up the Sacrifice Track will receive 9, 6 and 3 VPs respectively.

Build It Up

You can now construct buildings as long as there is still a building token on its square and your Action Card depicts the same type of Building, Region or Terrain type. You pay the building cost in Resources, put one of your Houses on the Building square, take the Building token and place it on an empty square on your player board where it will provide Resources in future turns.

The 3 types of Building, their Resource cost and that which they provide are :-

Cost Provide

  • Village 1 Brick + 1 Wood 1 Stone + 1 Gold
  • Temple 1 Brick + 1 Stone 1 Brick + 1 Priest
  • Cornfield 1 Wood + 1 Stone 1 Wood + 1 Corn

In addition one time only you can build your Palace. This costs 1 Wood, 1 Brick and 1 Stone and will not provide any future resources but it does count as 2 houses for all scoring purposes.

You now get to score for this round. 2 VPs for each House you have on a space that matches the Scoring card on the board.

You next pick one of the face-up Action cards off the table to replenish your hand.

Keep It Tidy

After all the players have played, the remaining face-up Action card becomes the new Scoring card for the next round so if you are last to go you will effectively decide which buildings will score in the next round! The 3 Action Cards that were played this Round are laid out along with the top card off the mini Action deck to be the Offer for the next Round.

Start the next Round and continue until 5 rounds have been played (Note the mini Action deck will be exhausted)

The Final Countdown

As well as the VPs players have gained in the Rounds there are many additional points to be gained in Zapotec.

  • Sacrifice Track: The top 3 players get 9, 6 and 3 Vps respectively
  • Rituals: VPs for Rituals with met conditions for each player with their disc on it.
  • Pyramids: 1 VP for each House that matches the scoring tile of a Pyramid times the number of Pyramid pieces the player has in that Pyramid. A Palace will count as 2 Houses. If the Pyramid is complete each Pyramid piece awrds an extra 5 VPs.