How To Play: Tikal – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Embark on an adventurous journey with 'How To Play Tikal,' where mastering scoring, action points, strategic tile placements, and area control pave your path to victory. Understand the rules, refine your strategies, and relish the rewarding challenge of Tikal.

Hello, fellow explorers! Are you ready to delve deep into the lush jungles of Tikal, unearthing hidden wonders and ancient secrets that will lead you to victory? If the spirit of adventure thrums through your veins, and you’re eager to master one of the most strategically rich board games out there, you’re in the right place. Welcome to my guide on How To Play Tikal; consider this your detailed map to triumph in this game of careful planning and clever execution.

Before we sneak through the treelines, it’s crucial to understand the foundational mechanisms that make up Tikal. I will unravel each thread of gameplay succinctly, making sure to leave no stone unturned – from the placement of your very first tile to conquering temples and claiming treasures. Imagine this as your compass, keeping you oriented towards strategic dominance.

This guide isn’t just about the rules, though. Oh no, we’re going to dig deeper than that – exploring ancient strategies that have been carved in the game’s very temples. By the end of this journey, not only will you be fluent in the game’s language, but you’ll also wield the tactics of a seasoned strategist ready to conquer Tikal’s challenges. Let’s embark on this expedition together, forging a path to victory below the canopy of Tikal’s fabled jungles.


What’s in the box

  • 1 Rule Booklet
  • 1 Game Board
  • 4 Sets of player pieces (each set containing):
    • 18 Explorers
    • 2 Base Camps
    • 3 Camps
  • 8 Advantageous Action Cards
  • 28 Treasure Tokens
  • 32 Hexagonal Tiles
  • 36 Temple Tokens
  • 1 Starting Player Marker
  • 4 Scoring Markers

How To Play Tikal: Rules Summary


Firstly, construct the game board by randomly placing the hexagonal tiles face down, creating a layout mentioned in the rule book. Players then choose a color and take the corresponding expedition leaders, camps, and treasures. Each player places a base camp on the designated corner enough space for the rest of the chits to keep track of their score. After setting up the board, initiate the game by turning over the top tile from the stack and beginning the sequence of gameplay.

  1. Lay out the board with face-down tiles.
  2. Distribute expedition leaders, camps, and treasures to the players.
  3. Set the score trackers.
  4. Start with turning the top tile over.


Every turn consists of uncovering a new tile and adding it to the expanding board. Utilize your action points wisely. Throughout the game, you’ll be exploring, uncovering temples, collecting treasures, and adding to the size of the temples, competing directly with your opponents for dominance. During your turn, manage the 10 action points effectively. Actions include uncovering a temple or treasure, moving your explorers, and placing new tiles.

  1. Reveal and place a new tile.
  2. Use your 10 action points for various activities.
  3. Challenge other explorers and vie for temples and treasures.


To win at How To Play Tikal, strategically garner points during the scoring rounds, which are triggered after drawing volcanic tiles. The person with the most points after the final scoring round, which happens once the last tile is laid, wins the game. Keep a sharp eye on your motivation and tactical decisions—every point counts!

  1. Accumulate points especially during the scoring rounds.
  2. Posture your explorers for point maximization.
  3. Plan for the final scoring round; lead up until that critical moment.

Special Rules & Conditions

Last but not least, Tikal has unique rules such as single-use auction for order of play per turn that impacts strategic placements, and stealing opportunities from other players. Not to mention, tie-breaking if players finish with equivalent points and unexpected traps not triggering during volcanic scoring rounds, necessitating adaptable strategies throughout the game.

  1. Engage in auction for turn order.
  2. Be aware of unique abilities on tiles that can create or disrupt paths.
  3. Adapt to special conditions that occur during gameplay.

Best Tikal Strategies

Mastering the Temples: The Secret to Scoring Big in Tikal

As a seasoned player of Tikal, knowing when and how to score can totally flip the game in your favor. First things first, you should always be aware of when the scoring rounds will occur. You’ve got to plan in advance! Typically, they pop up after roughly every quarter of the tiles have been drawn. Now let’s drill down into strategic gold here.

With Every Step, Think Points

Every time you place a worker or uncover a temple, ask yourself, ‘How does this contribute to scoring?’ The big scorers are the temples, so it’s crucial to have a majority around them when scoring hits.

Save the Best for Scoring

Horde those action points, friends. Having a reserve right before scoring allows you to swoop in and claim temples or treasures for a point lead.

Area Control is King

In Tikal, dominance is everything. Work on subtly expanding your area of control near high-value temples. Do it gradually, though, so you don’t scream ‘threat!’ to the other players.

Analyze The Opposition

Keep a watchful eye on your opponent’s moves. Within scoring rounds, block or counter them whenever feasible—it’s often as important as advancing your own game.

Flexible Tactics Win the Game

Don’t fixate on a single strategy. If you’re falling behind, shake things up during the scoring round. Move guerrillas, not chess pieces, to keep your tactics unseen and your strategy unpredictable.

Mastering Action Point Allocation for Dominance in Tikal

In Tikal, action points (APs) are your currency to success. Managing them effectively can mean the difference between triumph and defeat. Here’s my insight into their optimum use:

Strategize Your Movements

  1. Look ahead. Plan your moves by anticipating where new tiles might appear and where opponents may move.
  2. Move efficiently. Use the necessary number of APs to reach a target location, saving points for excavation or guarding temples.

Maximize Temple Excavations

  1. Excavate smartly. Invest in temples you can control and grow significantly, using minimal APs for maximum points.
  2. Seize the moment. Use your APs to excavate just before a scoring round, catching opponents unprepared.

Guard Your Assets

  1. Prioritize vigilance. Spend APs to place and move guards, locking down your temples from opposition encroachment.
  2. React promptly. When an opponent challenges your area, redirect APs to reinforce swiftly and maintain ownership.

Mastering the Jungle: Strategic Tile Placement & Area Control in Tikal

When playing Tikal, the art of placing tiles and controlling areas can often be the linchpin of victory. Remember, exploration tiles aren’t just about what you find, but how the placement affects the overall board control and access. Let’s delve into some pivotal strategies.

Choosing Your Battles Wisely

  1. Focus on tiles that fortify your hold over parts of the board that yield high points, particularly large temples or lucrative treasures.
  2. Fence off opponents using strategic tile placement to make certain areas costly for them to enter.

Exploiting Terrain

  1. Take advantage of single-entry hexes to create strongholds that are difficult for opponents to breach.
  2. Leverage impassable tiles by channeling your enemies’ movements or to secure privacy for future developments.

Long-Term Positioning

  1. Plan several moves ahead with each tile placement. This foresight can set you up for a majority in areas key to the scoring rounds.
  2. Balance immediate benefits with long-term strategic establishment, maintaining flexibility in your positioning.

As I positioned my last tile, herding one of my best buddy’s explorers away from a prime scoring temple, the value of clever placement and shrewd area control became exhilaratingly clear – in Tikal, you’re not just exploring ruins, but also laying the foundation for empire-building.

A Winning Expedition: Closing Thoughts on Tikal

As we conclude this journey through the lush jungles of ‘How To Play Tikal,’ ace these essentials, and you’ll turn every match into an expedition worth recounting. Balancing caution with aggression, planning moves with adaptability, and having the forethought to anticipate the upcoming scoring rounds will give you a competitive edge. A player well-versed in the intricacies of action point allocation, strategic tile placement, and maximizing scoring potential lays a formidable path to victory.

Romba tempe flexitra strategy you’ve explored, improvising plays an indispensable role. Remain vigilant, adapt to the ever-changing terrain, and most importantly, have fun embodying the spirit of adventure that Tikal encapsulates. With practice and strategic forethought, may every game find you unearthing treasures and ancient wonders, culminating in many well-deserved wins!

Want to know what we think of Tikal? Read our detailed review of Tikal here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.