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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > NETA-TANKA


Totems, tents and tactics


Totems, tents and tactics

In this worker-placement and resource-management game, players take on the role of a member of the Frostrivers tribe competing to become the next successor to the most revered elder of their community, Nētā-Tanka. Refreshingly, the competition does not involve any combat or confrontation between the potential successors. Instead, they have to prove they are suited for the role by performing generous acts, looking after the well-being of their clan and being an outstanding member of the society. What a lovely message all-around!

Nētā-Tanka has a bountiful supply of everything you’ve come to expect from worker-placement games. There is a central tribe board with spots to visit, resources to collect and exchange, items to purchase, and special actions to gain. Every player also has their own clan board, where all their good deeds will be tracked as the game progresses. They can feed their clan by collecting mushrooms and meat, build a high totem pole and tents, or procure various items. Throughout the game, players are likely to dip into each of these categories, building them up to a certain extent or focusing more in one particular area.

While Nētā-Tanka has very traditional worker-placement gameplay, it has one mechanic that sets it aside from the rest: the links. Positioning two of your meeples in the spots next to each other creates a link between them, generating bonus resources or actions. Therefore, if all four meeples are linked, three extra actions are gained. While the bonus link actions are not as powerful as those that are generated by the proper spots on the board, having so many extra abilities will still bring a significant advantage. the resources picked up through the links may not be immediately useful, but as there are so many objectives to fulfil, they will not be wasted either.

While an exciting and fun mechanic, links also make the game more predictable and less varied at the same time. It is a grave mistake not to make a single link in a round. At the very least, each player should be creating one or two each turn as to not to lag behind their opponents. Therefore, players tend to clamp all their meeples in a certain area of the map. Of course, they can be blocked, although once the game’s more than generous special power of ‘cloning’ is unlocked, that becomes very hard to do. Typically, spending a meeple to block someone just limits the number of links you can create and so usually not worth doing.

In an attempt to tick off all mechanics that tend to be associated with workerplacement games, Nētā-Tanka includes hidden objective cards, completing which earns players victory points. the presence of these cards is mystifying as they are almost completely irrelevant to the gameplay. the objectives are broad enough that players will be doing them anyway as the game progresses and so do not need further victory point encouragement. Furthermore, three victory points are very unlikely to change the course of the game and so the revelation of secret objectives falls That. In the single-player mode, objectives are necessary, but the goals are diTherent to those in the multiplayer.

Nētā-Tanka is a very competent and enjoyable worker-placement game. There is something very idyllic and calming in collecting mushrooms and wood to feed your clan and build huts. There aren’t any big end-of-game reveals and the competition between other players is non-confrontational. the biggest challenge is to sequence all your actions in the right order to gain the most out the links created by the meeple placement. Despite the presence of the links mechanic, there is very little revolutionary about Nētā-Tanka, but you will be entertained nonetheless.



Neta-Tanka gently tries to inspire us to be more generous and help others around us, while delivering everything that is expected from a conventional worker-placement and resource-management game.



► Two-sided village board

► 16 nomads

► Visiting nomad

► 12 reminder tokens

► Two two-sided

totem pole boards

► 12 canoe tiles

► Four final tiles

► 12 Neta-Tanka cards

► 10 objective cards

► 15 solo objective cards

► 18 handicraft cards

► 137 resource tokens

► Two buffalo tokens

► 20 generosity tokens

► Nine link tokens

► 17 solo link tokens

► Four copy power tokens

► First player token

► Round counter token

► Score pad

► Masterful achievement

stickers sheet


While not quite reaching the warm and fuzzy feeling that Everdell delivers so expertly,

Neta-Tanka is similarly a worker-placement game that focuses on the joys of menial

tasks and doing good deeds, w hile avoiding combat or confrontation in its gameplay.

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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