Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture

Located in the southern part of Mexico, the state of Oaxaca is known for both its biodiversity and as home to a number of indigenous peoples. These cultures have rich histories, with colorful, intricate craft work being a important, highly regarded skill. In Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture, you take the role of an expert crafts person, creating beautiful works of art.

At its heart Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture is a engine builder about being an expert crafts person in Oaxaca, Mexico. Across three rounds you’ll roll and use dice in order to create crafts. Dice will be deployed either to gather materials and patterns or to create crafts. Each type of craft, from jewelry making to pottery to textiles – will effect your game play. The player with the most valuable crafts at the end will be the winner.

Oaxaca boasts a rich theme not usually explored on the game table – indigenous art and crafts. I love the thought that’s been put into the design and game art to evoke the style of the regional handiwork. The patterned box and bright, colorful tianguis standout among other game boxes.

As an engine builder its easy to learn, but variety from game to game keep it from getting old. Practicing different crafts changes your strategy, so different combinations of dice drafts and cards will change how you play from game to game. Additionally, while there are dice involved, there area a number of ways to modify rolls, taking pure randomness out of the equation somewhat and placing more control over what you have available back in the player’s hands.

The rulebook is well laid out with several visual examples for the stages of gameplay. Appendixes include more detailed explanations of the cards as well as several variants included a solo mode. In addition, the player mats have a short turn guide and there are player cards with reminders – a huge boon for players that may need a quick refresher or who find it handy to walk through their turns. Try the ‘Taste of Oaxaca’ mode, which adds several popular foods from the region to the game.

Oaxaca – 4.5/5  – for unique theme, GORGEOUS art, and for a rulebook that’s well organized and clear to any player from new to experienced.