There are only a few people who don’t like chocolate and that’s not something new. Two thousand years ago, the peoples of Central and South America already discovered what kind of treat you can make from the cocoa fruit. In Cacao you are a chief in the jungle where the cocoa fruit grows and it is your job to lead your tribe to fame and prosperity through, among other things, growing cocoa fruits and trading the harvest.
Cacao is a tile placement game (in the tradition of Carcassonne), but with a twist. The twist is that there are two types of tiles, namely tribal tiles and jungle tiles. The jungle tiles depict what you can find in the jungle (cocoa plantations, markets, gold mines, water, cult sites and temples). The tribal tiles show four tribal members. The way the tribal members are distributed over the sides of the tile differ, varying from one on each side to three on one side/one on one side/two empty sides. During the game a kind of checkerboard is created in which the tiles are placed so that the tribe members always border on a jungle tile.
During a player’s turn, a player first places a tribal tile. This tile must therefore be adjacent to a jungle tile. Then you check if by placing this tile a square has been created that borders on two tribal tiles. If so, place a jungle tile there. Then the tiles that have just been placed are performed. This means that you can see which tribal members are adjacent to a jungle tile for the first time (both your own and those of other players). Each tribal member may then perform the action associated with that tile. So, for example, if you have two tribal members on a double plantation, you get four cocoa fruits. Then you have to try to sell these fruits as expensive as possible on markets (the selling price on the markets varies from 2 to 4 coins).
However, this is not the only way to get points. By working on your water supply you can also score a lot (this is kept on a separate scoring track). You can also worship the gods. Per temple the tribe that worshipped the most gets the most points, so that can be quite high.
As soon as all tiles have been laid, the game is over. The player with the most points wins the game.
Cacao is a great family game
The first thing you notice about Cacao is how beautiful and colorful it looks. The game is also in a nice inlay where all the pieces fit perfectly. The game itself is a real family game. The rules are simple and you can always do something nice in your turn. It’s a nice feature that tiles have an influence on what another player gets by placing jungle tiles. Sometimes you want to place a tile yourself, but you give your opponent a nice present and the question is if you want to. For many players, cocoa is a bit on the light side. It’s a nice casual game to play once, but it has too little to offer to really fall in love with and therefore won’t often be on the table. For families with children aged 8 to 10 years or so, it will appeal better to them because of the combination of the beautiful game material, the smooth course of the game, the short playing time with just enough player interaction to keep it fun.