Enlarge / Yamataï's board gets increasingly colorful as the game progresses.

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Days of Wonder—the board game publisher behind hits like Small World and Ticket to Ride—has released Yamataï, its "big game" of 2017. It's a veritable mashup of modern board game mechanics, everything from role selection to area control bonuses to turn order bidding, but the whole is greater than the sum of its brightly colored bits. In short, I love it.

Yamataï springs from the fertile brains of designers Bruno Cathala and Marc Paquien, and it bears more than a few resembles to Cathala's earlier game, the mancala-driven Five Tribes. Just as in that game, here you'll need to deposit multicolored wooden bits along a connected path, earning resources until you can build structures or buy helpful bonus figures ("djinns" in Five Tribes, "specialists" here).

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