The Great Frozen River; home to of the Frostrivers tribe, they live in in harmony with Nature. The Neta-Tanka, the Chief Elder, guides the four other Elders which set down the laws for the tribe to obey. The current Neta-Tanka has come to pass, and a successor must be found. The Frostrivers tribe gather at the Scared Ground to perform the ceremony to determine who will be the next Neta-Tanka. Each clan presents a young leader who will need to prove their worth and generosity to the tribe and become the next Neta-Tanka
Neta-Tanka is a 1-4 player worker placement game that has recently been funded on Kickstarter. It is of medium difficulty with a stated playtime of 60-90 minutes. But in the masses of worker placement games out there does this one really stand out from the crowd?
The gameplay of Neta-Tanka seems fairly standard for the most part. Each player has a select number of workers that they place on the board in turn order. Once all workers are placed the actions are then executed. However, the slight twist is that some worker action spots are linked. If a player places a worker on both sides of the link they get a bonus action, doesn’t sound much but it really adds another twist to the worker placement dynamic.
Also, some of the worker placement actions require other actions to be performed beforehand. For example, if a player wants to acquire pelts they must hunt beforehand. Some of these actions add resources to the communal pool for other players to get. When skinning game to acquire pelts the meat is made available for other players. This makes turn order and the order in which actions are resolved highly important. If there is no meat available in the tanning area, then you can't smoke meat, so players need to make sure the resources they require are available or perform the appropriate action to acquire them beforehand.
When performing actions that add resources to the communal pool, the player performing the action receives generosity points which can be used for various actions and point scoring opportunities. These slight subtle twists in the gameplay make this game stand out from other worker placement games.
There is also a different canoe card available each round that gives the player who visits the action space various bonuses actions, resources or cards. There is a fair few available in Neta-Tanka and they come out in a different order, offering a degree of replay-ability to the game. As with many worker placement games, once a spot has been taken no other player can go to the same spot. But players can upgrade their tribe to unlock a “copy” worker action.
There is also a myriad of ways to score victory points in the game. Players can build tents, providing shelter for their tribe, feed their tribe, handcraft objects such as drums, bows, vestments or necklace, raise the highest totem pole and show generosity. Players also objective cards with various conditions to meet that can score you points as well.
Neta-Tanka comes with a two-sided board, not for different player counts, but with alternate artwork and more importantly increased difficulty. The player boards are double layered (Deluxe Version only), there are upgraded components, screen printed custom meeples, a fifth player expansion, solo mode, extra objectives, canoe and handcraft cards and a mini expansion that sits along-side the main board which offers some new gameplay and new actions.
I am super excited about Neta-Tanka, the added generosity tokens when providing resources for the whole tribe, the linked bonus actions, multiple ways to score points, replay-ability with the various canoe cards and objective cards, all add up to what is looking to be a great game.
The Deluxe Version components are looking fantastic and add to the overall look and table presence of the game. Neta-Tanka is due to hit Kickstarter backers in March 2019 and I am really looking forward to getting this to the table when it arrives.