Hoyuk Review

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Hoyuk is a game by Pierre Canuel, published by Mage Company. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will represent a clan of people in the Neolithic period. They will be working to build a village using different types of buildings, ovens, shrines and pens. The player that is able to build the best settlement and score the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a color and receives a set of house tiles and a player counter in that color. The tiles are placed in front of them while the counter is placed on the number 0 of the score meter on the board. Depending on the game mode chosen, whether basic, medium or advanced, certain catastrophe cards will be shuffled together to form the catastrophe deck which is placed face down on the board in its place. The construction cardboards are placed face down on their space on the board. Shrine, pen and oven pieces are placed on their areas on the board as well. 10 aspect cards are dealt face up onto the 3 slots on the board. 5 of the construction cardboards are removed. The remaining 10 are shuffled and placed facedown on the proper space on the board. The first player is decided and play now begins.

The game has several different levels of play. I will mainly be discussing the basic game. This consists of several rounds that are each divided into 4 phases; construction x2, catastrophes, aspect, and end of round. Each phase is played in turn order before beginning a new phase. The first phase is the construction x2. In this phase, players will use the construction cardboards to build with. Each player is dealt one construction cardboard which is placed faceup in front of them. The players in turn order will build the elements on the cardboard. When building, houses must be built where their sides match. Pens can not be enclosed on all 4 sides and the arrow points to the house that owns it. Ovens and shrines are placed on top of houses but can not both be on the same space. Housing blocks can be created and second stories can be built. Once all players have completed the first step and built one cardboard, those are discarded and new ones are drawn. Players then build a second time just as before.

The next phase is the catastrophes phase. In this phase, the first player draws a card from the catastrophe deck. It is read out loud and then it’s effect is applied to each block. Those catastrophes can be anything from drought and fire to tornadoes and earthquakes. This usually ends up with loss of houses or other destructive events. Once the card has been resolved it is placed on the bottom of the catastrophe deck.

The third phase is the aspect card phase. In this phase, each block is examined to determine which player has the lead in each of the 3 aspects. The leader is awarded an aspect card. The first player chooses which block is inspected first, followed in turn order by the other players for as many blocks as there are. No rewards are given if there is only one player represented in a block.

The last phase is the end of round phase. In this phase, aspect cards are replenished. Any aspect cards used during the round are placed face up below any card that remains in that slot. The first player then gives the first player marker to a player of their choosing.

Aspect cards can be used to build additional elements or score victory points. They can only be played at the beginning of each of the 4 phases. One aspect card can be played for each family that the player has built in the village. These cards are played face up in front of the player to keep track of how many have been used. To build, the element that is represented on the card is what can be built anywhere on the village. Players may alternatively use a group of cards with the same aspect to score between 1 and 12 points, depending on how many of the cards have matching elements.

This all continues until a player builds their 25th house. Players finish up the rest of the round before ending the game. Scoring then takes place. Unplayed aspect cards net 1 point each. Each block is then inspected and the largest family in each block is given a point. The player with the most victory points after all the points have been added up is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game is extremely nice with lots of great pieces. The cardboard house tiles as well as the pens have great artwork that feels like its from that ancient time. The construction cardboards are made of cardboard as well and look nice too. There are lots of different wooden meeples for ovens, shrines, cattle, villagers and the shaman, as well as player counters. All of these are brightly colored and look really nice. The shaman, cattle and villagers are used in the more advanced games. The aspect and catastrophe cards look very nice and the artwork for these is really great. I love how detailed and nice they are. The board draws you into this ancient world really well and it has lots of great artwork on it. I’m really thrilled with the look and feel of every piece. This is another great component game that was really well thought out.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is high quality just like the components. There are lots of great pictures and examples. Everything is explained really well and it’s easy to read through. There are some great explanations of each of the catastrophe cards and how they work. There are rules for medium and advanced play. There are also rules for using cattle, villagers and the shaman as well. There are explanations of the different clan powers as well. Also included are a couple of pages of frequently asked questions for a little more clarification. Everything is extremely well designed and the artwork is very thematic. I really like how nice everything looks.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really great game that is simple to play. The more difficult games are a little bit more involved and therefore are harder but aren’t so bad that they can’t be played. There is quite a bit of strategy from placing your pieces to how to spend your aspect cards. The different variations on game play are really nice. I like using the shaman and cattle variants. The shaman is really great to keep your house from being destroyed during a catastrophe. The cattle on the other hand are just fun to play with and look really neat on the board, plus they give a victory point for having the most in a block. I like that the game can be ramped up as you learn the different levels of play and make for a much more difficult and more strategic game. There is quite a bit of player interaction through the control of majorities. You really have to watch what the other player is doing and keep an eye on what they’re building in each block. The game takes around an hour to play and with the more advanced difficulties it takes a little longer. The game plays really smoothly and is a great ancient city building game.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Hoyuk is a great village building game that adapts to several different levels of difficulty. The play time for this one is average with most sessions lasting around an hour. The artwork and components are really nice and fit really well with the theme. Fans of civilization games or ancient history style games like Stone Age should enjoy this one really well. Everything is really easy to learn and it ramps up with the difficulty really well. There are plenty of variants and difficulties to make every level of player from the newbies to the veteran gamers happy. There is a lot of player interaction and a lot of replayability. It’s a really good game that is a lot of fun. It has a lot of strategy to it and might provoke some analysis paralysis but I didn’t notice that very much. All in all, this is a really great game that most players should find enjoyable. I definitely recommend it.
9 out of 10

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For more information and this and other great games, please check out Mage Company at their site.

http://www.magecompany.com/index.htm

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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