Atiwa is one of the newest Uwe Rosenberg games and definitely the newest in my collection. I picked a copy up at the bring and buy at UK Games Expo, having previously watched a play through and deciding it was a must have for my collection. My version of the game is in German, but it’s an Uwe so fortunately language independent.
It’s no secret that I’m an Uwe fan. When I first started my journey into modern boardgames Agricola was on my list of “must haves”. What struck me about Atiwa on watching the play through is that it’s very very different from any of his other games I have (well, aside from the fact that it’s a worker placement).
The worker placement aspect is fairly usual except for one twist. There are a number of main actions that are on tiles and these are laid in a random order in the middle of the board. The action on the tile is combined with a different action on the board. Each round one tile is moved left, changing the combination of actions a little, but also as a means of counting the rounds. You only have 3 workers for the whole game (no making babies – or at least not of workers in this game), so for each round you have three actions in total.
In front of you you have a production board with rows of wild animals, trees, fruit, families and goats. Whenever you gain any of these items you gain them from this production board onto cards that you have in front of you (everyone starts with a town, but you will pick up more terrain or urban areas throughout the game). Then, when you use the items you will move them from your cards back to your production boards. The only resource that you don’t get from this board are bats and gold (only the bats go onto your cards).
Each card is made up of 8 squares and most of the squares specify the type of resource that can go on it. There may be blank squares, and these can be filled with anything as long as there is already a resource of that type on that card.
You get more of the resources either by worker placement, during the production phase, or during the breeding phase (it’s a Uwe – of course there is a breeding phase – and a feeding phase – but these both work quite different to other Uwe games). The production phase is interesting – based on what you have taken off your production board you will produce other resources – so if you’ve got enough wild animals you will gain more trees (because wild animals spread tree seeds), if you’ve got enough trees you gain fruit, and if you’ve got enough fruit you gain bats (because they are fruit bats). Another way to get trees is during your action phase – if you have three bats and a fruit on your cards you can fly the bats off into the night, removing a fruit back to your production board and gaining a tree as the bats eat the fruit and poop out the seeds.
The breeding phase varies each round (under that tile I was describing earlier explains the breeding criteria). It tells you an animal or family (so bats, wild animals, goats and families) and if you have the number given and somewhere to put a new one, these multiply.
Families have two states – they can be trained or untrained. Untrained families don’t know that bats are unhealthy to each so they can eat bats. But they also cause pollution (which basically blocks squares on your cards permanently, possibly removing resources from your cards). Trained families don’t cause pollution and gain you gold every round (because they know how to get gold without causing pollution.
Points are gained from a few different things – number of bats above 10, the number under the right-most revealed of each resource, amount of gold, and points on terrain and urban cards (which can be negative).
It’s mostly a solo multiplayer with the only interaction being blocking spaces each other might want. There’s not a whole lot of variation between plays but that’s no different from most Uwe games. But it’s a really puzzle making you think how best to get everything off your board. I’ve really enjoyed my plays of it so far and I am really looking forward to playing it on Wednesday when we have an Uwe night at our boardgame group. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite Uwe game yet – but it’s definitely one of them.