Exploring Yucatan: A Disquieting Solo Experience and Theme

May 21, 2024 | Sessions | 0 comments

Battle over a trio of cities while using summoned creatures, troops, buildings, and upgrades to achieve victory in Yucatan.

My husband and I have a lot of fun with Kemet: Blood and Sand, so it was a fairly obvious choice for a streamlined but similar version to make it into our collection! I was in charge of unboxing and learning how to play Yucatan, though, and suffice to say… I was very cautious about what the solo mode might entail. Yet it was time to finally try it out!

Game Overview

Game Name: Yucatan
Publication Year:

Karl Fitzgerald
Solo Mode: Included in Yucatan: Solo Mode

Battles across the set of cities form the strategic basis. Building advancements, troop upgrades, and creature summons provide a multitude of decisions, although the major source of victory points comes from sacrificing captured prisoners and feels quite uncomfortable.

A Bunch of Miniatures and the Battle of Three Cities in Yucatan

First Play

May 19, 2024



Latest Play

May 19, 2024



Setup Time

25 Minutes

Lifetime Plays


Play Time

1 Hour & 30 Minutes


High Score



Game Area

50" x 34"


Low Score


Unnecessary & Unruly

This edition includes a bunch of cardboard pyramids that are enormous, and might not be fully captured here. They serve no real function except to take up table space.

For a deluxe production, I was disappointed in many ways. Those cardboard pyramids are a pain, and are stored in a separate, flimsy box… But have to be disassembled.

Miniatures are all over the place in terms of quality, with the huge mass of units feeling very cheap and unsteady.

I thought there might be a quick sort of game here, yet setup was far too much. This isn’t even half of the space! 

Unnecessary Pyramids and an Enormous Play Space to Manage in Yucatan

Who Are You Again?

The summon miniatures are pretty excellent, with sturdy models and plenty of details. Very nice! Although I had to wonder why the crocodile and anteater were so tiny. Ha!

Yet matching them up with their battle cards and tokens took ages. There is no guide, so it comes down to trying to look at all 3 components and match them all up.

It was only after I made this beautiful display that the solo mode told me to create stacks of cards and / or tokens.

Ugh! I simply used a die roll to choose for the solo opponent. I was already struggling with the solo rulebook.

The Struggle to Tell All of the Summons Apart and Manage the Solo Opponent in Yucatan

Egregious Editing

The rulebook that was printed and included is the worst one I have ever found. I understand translation issues, and can often look past those when I can see how to play.

An updated and released version was offered as a PDF, and I spent around an hour making it printer-friendly. And it’s still riddled with errors and incorrect examples.

Unfortunately, the solo rules and player aids haven’t been updated, so I was left with a lot of questions and oddities.

Many games take time to master, but I can’t understand the decision to make this game so awful to learn.

A Woefully Edited Rulebook and Printed Materials with Tons of Errors in Yucatan

The Opposite of Cozy

I’ll preface this by saying I play plenty of games that involve killing units in battle and not-so-cozy themes.

But this one might be the most uncomfortable. It’s about capturing prisoners in battle, and then sacrificing them. The cover and multiple pieces of card art reinforce that.

I’m willing to admit I may have missed it, but I found no mention of this setting’s explanation in the rules. So I didn’t understand this emphasis on sacrificed prisoners.

This is the sort of theme I typically try to avoid, yet I may simply fall outside the target audience. But… Yikes.

The Trouble with Uncomfortable Themes and Questionable Artwork in Yucatan

Why Do I Play Board Games and What Do I Want?

I don’t mean to discount the idea of uncomfortable themes, as I have some games that delve into this realm. Yet there is a difference between exploring a serious topic and feeling distressed. Sure: It’s just a game. But I’m the type of player who enjoys getting immersed in a theme or setting. There was nothing enjoyable about sacrificing people for points.

Defeated troops were also reinforced up to maximum with very little effort, so losing units didn’t feel meaningful. I know I’m not the right sort of player, yet I don’t necessarily know who will enjoy this. Kemet: Blood and Sand uses a lot of these concepts, but without the idea of sacrificing prisoners. I was left feeling baffled and downright bad.

Also, I have a lot of fun with Kemet: Blood and Sand! My summoned creatures have sound effects, battles are intense, and I play pretty aggressively. That’s how it’s always been, even in earlier versions of the game, and I had hoped to find some of those emotions with this game. But even writing about the game and seeing the art makes me uncomfortable.

And again, I don’t begrudge games that make me feel bad. Freedom: The Underground Railroad is one that I don’t play often because it’s so serious. Making hard decisions and losing people also make me feel very bad and upset. But there are meaningful lessons I can reflect on during and after I play, and that discomfort is a very thoughtful sort of process.

The Battle of… Nothing

As I followed the solo opponent’s sequence, it felt like an exercise in randomness instead of a challenge. At one point, it summoned at the end of a round for no gain.

But still, the scores felt relatively close. So I set up for a final battle with all of my strength and this cool creature!

I knew the next city the solo opponent would move to was this city, so I smiled a little, preparing for the finale.

I moved in the enemy troops, and paid the movement cost. Oh, no! Wait… The solo opponent had no corn, so it just sat back and collected some resources. The end. Ugh!

Getting Prepared for a Final Battle That Never Happened in Yucatan

Some Neat Concepts

There seemed to be some potential with the different ways that buildings and troops could be upgraded, but none of this felt like I had a lot of unique choices to make.

When I played against my husband, I advanced in a pretty similar way. Some upgrades are noticeably better early on, so the chosen order will likely be quite similar each play.

I spent about half of the play flipping around 3 documents, trying to decipher the correct sequence of play. Painful.

It’s also worth noting that this mostly boiled down to a simple act of rotating battles between the cities.

A Seemingly Interesting Set of Decisions for Buildings and Upgrades in Yucatan

Session Overview

Play Number: 1
Main Expansion: Yucatan: Solo Mode
Expansion: Yucatan: 5-6 Players Expansion
Solo Mode: Included in Yucatan: Solo Mode
Outcome: 46-44 (Win)

Although it looked like everything was close, I gave the solo opponent extra victory points… The rules stated to only use half of everything to move ahead, but why not everything at the end? Who knows. The random events had potential, but the rules were confusing as to how often they happened during a round. Thankfully, I’m done!

A Fairly Bland Set of Random Events Requiring Rules Interpretations in Yucatan


1 Play


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


+ Pros (Positives)

  • There are some interesting decisions to make when playing battle cards, as losing can sometimes be desirable.
  • Creature summons feature very intricate miniatures that look awesome and add a neat element to the play area.
  • Gaining victory points is more of a calculated effort with a system that requires a slow build up over time.
  • Later rounds open up more possibilities when activating cities, leading to more nuanced battle strategies.
  • Advancing buildings is a neat choice that can help focus on specific areas, often aligning with the evolutions.
  • Turns allow a building and troop to be activated in either order, which offer neat combination possibilities.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • The rulebooks and player aids are riddled with errors and make both learning and playing difficult and confusing.
  • Sacrificing prisoners is a very uncomfortable sort of theme that doesn’t provide any sense of fun or satisfaction.
  • Component quality is rather underwhelming, especially for the troop miniatures and unnecessary pyramids.
  • For a seemingly streamlined and quicker game experience, setup and the standard game time take way too long.

More Yucatan

Explore related posts about Yucatan!

Victory Conditions

Score the Most Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%

Goals and Milestones


Win at least 1 game.

Continue the Conversation

Have you played the solo mode of Yucatan? Are there any other rulebooks that have been a struggle for you to learn? I can appreciate how difficult it is to create a rulebook that explains everything in a way that makes sense to most players, yet this one is abnormally bad. I’m glad to share my thoughts, yet I will never play this one again. Moving on!


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