Tiwanaku – Mother-Earth Minesweeper


With Tiwanaku, designer Olivier Grégoire has asked the question, “What if I embellished the old Microsoft Windows game Minesweeper and turned it into a board game?”

With that comparison you already get the gist of some of the game. But how it’s been implemented and expanded upon are fascinating.

Tiwanaku was published in 2022 by Sit Down! Games and is intended for 1-4 players age 14 and up. A game takes around an hour to play.

Game Play

In Minesweeper, the unknowns revealed with each mouse click were hiding inside the computer. With Tiwanaku, unknown information for each game is hidden on a Scenario disc. You’ll slide this disc into a secret window-opening rotational gadget named the ‘Pachamama wheel’.

Mind-blowing ingenuity embeds secret information inside these window gadgets (similar to Turing Machine or ArcheOlogic). The back side of the Scenario disc contains the game-specific setup. This includes:

  • How many tiles to stack of the four terrain types (Dirt, Sand, Grass, Rock)
  • Where/which starting terrain tiles to place on the 5×9 grid
  • Which numbered crop tiles to put on them (5 = quinoa, 4 = corn, 3 = chili, 2 = coca leaf, 1 = sweet potato)
  • In solo/co-op modes – where to put the automated opponent’s Otoma meeples.

Each player has a certain number of Quechua meeples of their color and a set of Offering tokens in the common pool. They’ll be able to acquire these later.

Crop tiles and Offering tokens


Turns consist of players choosing to either EXPLORE (move following restrictions) -or- DIVINE (guess).

If your Exploring move ends on an empty space, use the wheel to reveal the terrain tile.

Tiwanaku terrain reveal
Revealing terrain – this time it’s grass.

Players Divine to guess which number crop tile belongs on space(s) where they have a meeple. Successful guesses award points and a matching Offering token. But players can only store one of each color Offering token at any time.

Player screen with three offering tokens and one meeple

Play moves clockwise around the table until the final terrain tile is placed on the board. After the current player’s turn is finished, there is a final round of single-meeple divinations and offerings. The winning player has the most points.

Tiwanaku end game
All terrain has been revealed. Each player gets one more single Divination and then the game ends.

Placement Rules

Rules based on diversity and separation guide your guessing.

DIVERSITY RULE. A group of similar terrain tiles will always be between one and five tiles, and two terrain tile groups of the same type will never touch – even diagonally.

Within each group of terrain tiles, there will only be one of each crop number, starting with 1 and counting up (e.g. a group of 2 tiles will always only have a 1 and 2, a group of 5 tiles will always have a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5).

SEPARATION RULE. No crop tiles of the same number will ever be adjacent (orthogonally or diagonally).

REVELATIONS about what to reveal and what guesses are correct use the Pachamama wheel.

Coordinates on the board have a nature object column and an animal row. Rotate the Scenario disc nature object to the top arrow and move the bottom tab to the animal, then open the appropriate window.

Earning Points

Players earn points in three different ways:

  • TERRAIN DIVERSITY. Each terrain tile explored moves a player’s Diversity pawn up on a track matching the terrain type. Then they score points equal to how many total Diversity pawns they have in that row. This rewards players who keep exploring a variety of terrain types.
  • GUESSING CROP TILES. When players choose Divination, they guess a crop tile number and the correct crop tile is revealed and placed. The points gained or lost is equal to the number revealed. If correct, they may keep guessing on other spaces where they have a meeple. A wrong guess ends turns immediately.
  • OFFERING SETS. At the end of a successful turn, a player can redeem offering tokens for points. The more variety they offer, the more points they earn. (1 token =0 points, 2=1, 3=3, 4=6, 5 different tokens=10 points).
A set of Offering tokens in Tiwanaku
A perfect Offering, all five crop types, for 10 points.



A successful player needs to balance and optimize all three ways of scoring listed above. You will want to explore terrain tiles, making educated guesses to reveal a color variety you need next to keep them all in the same row as much as possible.

Use the logic rules and information already revealed to guess high numbered crop tiles. You may want to park your meeple on a hunch until you can be certain before guessing.

Meeple positioning is important to be able to achieve both terrain diversity points and access to the tiles that are more obvious in value. This is also important to help avoiding being blocked by opponent meeples. Try to position your meeples on tiles which are likely to hold the higher numbers.

Other reviewers have criticized the luck factor of revealing a low or high number crop tile. But I don’t perceive a problem here, because losing points for wrong guessing strongly discourages less-than-certain guessing. Plus, information is equally available to all players.

Beige and Green players could Divine with certainty here. But they may choose to wait until they can make multiple Divinations on a turn.

Solo Mode and Competitive Mode

I first tried Solo mode to learn the game.

Solo mode has some significant differences. The biggest is that you must guess missing crop tiles with every meeple on empty terrain tiles on a Divination turn. Be very patient until you know most (or all) of the crop tiles where you have meeples!

Moving your meeples constantly helps your Otoma opponent. Discovering a new terrain tile, or even moving back onto a terrain tile without a crop, triggers an arrow-based move. These guarantee scoring for the Otoma: points for an automatically successful crop tile reveal and usually also points for a Diversity pawn track move.

The Otoma changes the flow of the game too. Because the Otoma are revealing crop tiles throughout the game in solo mode, nearby crop tiles become solvable earlier.

But the competitive game tends towards two distinct game stages. It starts with massive exploration. But once certain crop tiles have been guessed, a domino chain of numbers suddenly means most of the board’s crop tiles become knowable.

In both modes, it’s very satisfying to guess multiple crop tiles and trade in a varied group of offering tokens, all in one turn.


I’ll note one component disappointment here: The right window slide on my Pachamama wheel sometimes opened by itself due to internal friction while rotating the disc or the tab. This meant accidentally revealing information meant to be secret.

You may need to be careful to hold these windows closed while rotating the wheel. This is especially fiddly, given how frequently you use the Pachamama wheel.

Final Thoughts

Compared to other deduction games (Sleuth, The Search for Planet X, Cryptid, Turing Machine), Tiwanaku‘s terrain tile exploration wandering feels lighter, more like lucky guesswork. It’s also noticeably lacking any private information known only to you and that big final answer.

One or more of these distinctions could make Tiwanaku not for you, as was the case with my closest gaming partner. But I think this will be what sets Tiwanaku apart as something a little different, and great for families. It’s a little lighter at the start and all the information is public, you don’t really need to take notes. The deduction scoring isn’t one big puzzle, but instead a series of mini-puzzles as you go.

It is also the first deduction game I’m aware of that includes set collection and strategy on how to reveal secret terrain information. Tiwanaku definitely mixes multiple game mechanisms in a unique and compelling way.

If you’re ready to explore the fields and wield the Pachamama wheel, look for Tiwanaku at your friendly local game store or on Amazon.

Tiwanaku with two players

This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

The Family Gamers received a copy of Tiwanaku from Sit Down! Games for this review.

Tiwanaku – Mother-Earth Minesweeper
  • 8/10
    Art - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Mechanics - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Family Fun - 8/10


Age Range: 14+ (can go younger with kids who like deduction)
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 60-90 minutes