Tajuto: Pagoda Pandemonium
Become the “Great Guardian of the Sacred Garden of the Eight Pagodas” in Tajuto.
In Tajuto from Renier Knizia up to four players will construct pagodas to increase their Meditation and achieve Spirituality points. Tajuto is published by Super Meeple (Luma Imports distributes it in the US & Canada) and is best for players ages 10+.
How to Play
Your goal is to have the most Spirituality points when the fourth pagoda is completed. You’ll do this primarily by spending Meditation points.
Every player starts with three Action tiles and a set of Offering cubes in the eight colors of the pagodas.
On your turn, you’ll use at least one Action tile. The tiles you start with each have three actions available, but you’ll pay Meditation points to use a second or third Action. It’s a good idea to acquire at least one more Action tile that will allow you to do a specific Action every turn.
Perform available actions in any order you like, as long as you can pay the Meditation point cost.
Draw a Pagoda floor from the bag and place it in front of you. You can only keep one floor in front of you at the end of your turn. Will you try for a lower floor you’re sure to be able to place, or an upper floor that you might not? Feel around to try to get the floor you want.
Make an Offering by placing one of your cubes into the space on top of the matching pagoda. You’ll get Meditation points (the number of pagoda floors + 2), and block any opponents from making an Offering here until another floor has been built.
Acquire a Tile by paying its cost in Mediation points (moving your pawn backwards on the Meditation path). There are four types of tiles you can buy: additional Actions, Wisdom tiles (which award Spirituality points), Inauguration tiles (which award Spirituality points if their matching pagoda is completed), and Transcendence tiles (Markets reduce the price of future tiles, and Shrines increase the Spirituality value of your Wisdom and Inauguration tiles).
At any time during your turn you can add floors to pagodas. Each pagoda has six floors to build, starting from the largest floor up to the smallest.
If you have floor(s) in front of you that can be added to a pagoda, you must do so – but you can choose when to do this during your turn.
Advance on the Meditation path after adding a pagoda floor; higher floors get you more Meditation points. Construct a floor directly covering an Offering cube for a two point bonus.
You may also complete one or more Objectives on your turn. If you do, take the corresponding tile. It does not cost you anything.
End of the Game
When someone completes the fourth pagoda the game immediately ends. That player gets a special Objective tile, as does the player with the most Meditation points at that moment.
Only Spirituality points count; players tally up what they have received from Objectives, Wisdom tiles, Inauguration tiles, and any Shrine bonuses. Can you be the most honored and transcendent guardian?
Tajuto is a beautiful game with amazing table presence. The layered pagodas are eye-catching and fun to build.
The game makes players decide between making a better “point engine” through buying Action tiles, Markets, and Shrines, or going all in on Spirituality points. There’s an enjoyable tension near the end of the game, as players try to block each other from certain tiles or pagodas, while risking that they might not get what they want.
Unfortunately, that tension takes a long time to ramp up. Players start at zero on the Meditation path and placing a bottom floor to a pagoda only awards one Meditation point. There are a few Spirituality tiles that can be had cheaply, but useful Actions start at 10 points. Even using your own additional Action tiles will cost you at least 4 Meditation!
This means that the early rounds are boring. Each player takes the bag of pieces, draws a bottom floor, places it, and gets a single point. Or they draw a second floor, risking a color they can’t place this turn. Or they place an Offering cube and get 3 Meditation points.
Around and around it goes for several rounds until someone has enough Mediation points to spend – I highly recommend the “buy Tile” Action or the “place Offering” Action. Once a player has multiple “free” actions available to them each round, strategies can diverge.
The pacing is better at three and four players, but still slow. We wonder if Tajuto could be more interesting if all players started with a few Meditation points, giving some room to make different decisions in the early game.
Meditation or Bewilderment?
Speaking of points… it’s hard for first time players to grasp that Meditation points are the currency of the game, and Spirituality points are the real goal. Could it be the name? Is it because Meditation points are tracked on a path? Or maybe they are so important in the early game that players fixate on Meditation.
Don’t focus on Meditation for too long, or you’ll miss out on the chances you need to buy Wisdom tiles. They’re the primary source of Spirituality points, and they get more expensive over time.
Inauguration tiles can be a good source of points, but each one is a bet. You’ll need to grab them before the matching pagoda is completed – and getting the tile is a good way to telegraph to your neighbors what you’re trying to do next.
Can We Build It?
Because of the slowness of the game, our kids had a hard time staying focused playing Tajuto. And it starts so slowly at two players that we wouldn’t recommend it at that player count.
Tajuto is good for adults who want a medium-weight game with a classic feel. The building experience rewards patience and strategic placement of offering cubes to maximize the points obtained. Bold use of second and third action tiles can help an experienced player snag a high Spirituality point tile or a valuable action tile before a more cautious player could.
Though strategies diverge, Tajuto is mechanically a perfect information game – Nothing is hidden from your opponents except your acquired Wisdom and Inauguration tiles. Deeper strategists will enjoy this battle of wits.
Find Tajuto on Amazon, or ask for it at your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Tajuto from Luma Imports for this review.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 45-60 minutes