Oaxaca (pronounced as Wah-HA-Kah) is a beautiful city in Mexico. The area is known for its colorful markets and crafts. This game, Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture highlights that by creating a fun mechanic of crafting and selling and it even includes numerous variants to customize the game as you like best.
Title: Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture
Release Date: 2018
Suggested Audience Age: 10+
Number of Players: 1-4
Time to Play: 40 minutes
Availability: Rather hard to come by, frequently out of stock online. Try requesting from your friendly local game store or check Thing 12 Games for updates
Recommended for fans of: Jaipur, Two-Player games, Deckbuilding games, Solo games
What's The Story and Gameplay Like
The actual city of Oaxaca in Mexico is well known for its culture of handicrafts and markets. In Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture you are playing as a family of crafters from Oaxaca who have honed their skills from generation to generation. Create a full market stall of goods and get ready to sell to the eager tourists!
The game plays as somewhat of a deck builder. There are 5 (or 6 if you use the expansion) different types of crafts you can focus on. As you are crafting different items they provide benefits for you in future crafting endeavors. This provides a lot of strategy to the game as you can see what types of bonuses you want to work towards. A lot still comes down to the roll of the dice, however!
An expansion deck and a couple of variant rules are included in the base copy of the game. This allows for you to really be able to tweak the game to fit the way you like to play. The above picture shows the expansion cards which add a new craft to the game, Taste of Oaxaca (foods). These additional cards don't provide many points but are easier to complete and provide fun new mechanics.
Additionally, there is a solo variant, an advanced variant, and a friendly variant. An easy swap of a few cards and a change to the rules and you can use these variant options to fit your tastes.
The solo game is very well balanced and a lot of fun to play with. The creativity they put into the design of it to make it work is perfectly done. Definitely worth trying it solo if you like playing solo games.
What I liked
First of all, the colorful artwork of this game is wonderful. The meeples have stickers and can be male or female (I made my meeples double-sided so they can be either). The game really feels bright and cheerful while staying true to the theme of Oaxaca culture. Several of the cards feature the papal picado (paper banners) that is so prevalent in my mind of Mexican celebrations and just adds another feeling of fun and celebration.
Overall the game plays very well. I did have to play it a few times to grasp some of the concepts, but once it clicked it is great. I now enjoy replaying this game over and over. The variants help with replayability as it's fun to try tweaking the rules for each different option. The Taste of Oaxaca expansion deck also adds a lot to the game in my opinion.
Cats like the little pieces
The adorable little pieces of this game did attract attention from my feline friend, however. This caused a slight disruption in gameplay. An adorable distraction.