Cóatl - In-Depth Review
This review is for Cóatl, the board game. It is not a review of Quetzalcoatl (long may he reign).
- Flexible and forgiving set collection game
- Dragons are cool!
- Prophecy cards evolve objectives mid-game
- Accessible and quick
- Personal stash of pieces
- Does not add much to the genre - if you don’t like set collection games, you won’t like this game
- Rulebook (didn’t need it after the first game, but I’m still annoyed that I had to look up what went in the bags)
- Pieces connect together so well that I constantly pulled too many out of the draft bags; they took longer than I’d like to disassemble at the end of the game
I like set collection games. They are a light, fun experience, and even if I don’t win, I feel a sense of accomplishment from putting my sets together. The object of this game is to assemble three draconic figures called Cóatl with intricate patterns for points.
This is a simple game, but the rulebook was sparser than required to be able to actually set up the game for the first time. I had to watch a video to figure out what to put in the supply bags. Each turn, you can either draft pieces, assemble your Cóatl, or pick up a prophecy card. Because you cannot draft a piece and place it on the same turn, you instead place them on your personal board. Your personal board has 8 slots, which leaves you enough room for the "just in case" tail piece for when your opponent tries to end the game early, a few slots for pieces your opponent probably needed to finish their pattern, and a few slots for trash that you had to draft to either reset the supply pile or because it was attached to the color you needed. The personal board makes a majority of decisions less nerve-wracking. Instead of limiting myself to only the best options, I was able to take the "least worst" option and make it work later.
The prophecy and temple cards depict the pattern you need to match and add variety. One temple card is given to you at the beginning of the game. The remaining temple cards are divided into two stacks, and you can still get points from them if your dragon matches the card requirements. You can pick up new prophecy cards to create super complex serpents that score all kinds of victory points. If you get really lucky there are prophecy cards that match what you are already doing. (Kind of like Ticket to Ride and its destinations!)
The prophecy cards are the best part of the game. I’ve played set collection games where the objective was set in stone at the beginning of the game. Most of the game play in those situations involves trying to find the one specific thing I need while tossing the rest of the pieces aside. There is still an element of this in Cóatl, but the adaptable goals with the prophecy cards help make up for the times when nothing you need is in the supply pile.
The game ends when someone finishes their third Cóatl. Since everyone can see everyone else’s Cóatl, and the non-finishing players get one final turn before the end, we never had a round where someone was not able to finish all three. If you don’t pay attention to the other player, I guess it's possible that you could fail to finish your third Cóatl. I paid just enough attention to make sure I had as many dragon heads down as my opponent and enough tail pieces on my personal board to finish it off on the final turn.
In two player mode, the supply pieces didn’t move around enough to get truly intricate patterns done. Most of the time I was picking up what I needed and ignored everything else. If there were no pieces that benefited me, I tried to block my opponent instead by stealing pieces he needed and then just threw them to rot on my player mat. Blocking another player while waiting for better pieces was the limit of our player engagement. (I really wanted to sacrifice the other player’s Cóatl to the gods, but that is not an option.) Prophecy and temple cards in the hand are hidden information, but other players are going to notice what you are doing almost immediately.
The sacrifice tokens are a good addition. Every game you get three tokens. One allows you a perfect pick - to draw exactly the token you need and mulligan the supply pile, one allows you to mulligan the prophecy card pile, and one allows you to take a temple card. Most games we only get around to using the perfect pick token, but the option of additional tokens is nice.
I like the set collection genre. I like Sagrada, another good set collection game, but I like this game better. Sagrada has an inflexible quality to it; I always messed my grid up almost immediately and regretted it for the rest of the game. (For more, read the Guest Geek's Sagrada review.) I did not have that nerve wracking experience in Cóatl. This game lets you draft extra pieces and save them for later. Prophecy cards allow you to change the patterns you are going for mid-game. Dragons also look cooler than windows. I enjoy this game and will play it again.
Remote play score: 2 out of 4
What our remote score means: Not recommended over Zoom or your video conferencing system of choice.