Producer– Rio Grande Games
Price– $150! at Amazon-Good Luck anywhere else! http://www.amazon.com/Rio-Grande-Games-469RGG-Hawaii/dp/B007515EVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421289771&sr=8-1&keywords=hawaii+board+game or FREE at Board Game Arena!
Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 90-120 minutes (2 to 5 players)
TL; DR– In depth strategy from a simple game. 85%
Basics-Are you ready to become the big Kahuna? In Hawaii, players battle to see who will be the next best chief. Hawaii is a game with several different sides to it. The main goal is most points. There are a few ways to go about that though. Each player has several different villages that they can grow to score points at the end of the game. To get points for each village, it has to be long enough to reach the tiki for that column it reaches and have a Kahuna at its start on the beach. For now, just think you have to have a start point marker as well as a distance marker for the villages. To get village tiles, the players take turns gathering people, places, gods, and resource tiles from the main island. This main island has several different buying tiles that are separated randomly into three rows. Each turn during set up, you randomly select different cost tokens for each tile. The last buying space on each tile will show the maximum total cost to all these tokens. If you ever draw a token that would put the total cost over the maximum cost, then that token is flipped upside down and placed in the fishing lagoon as all tokens have a cost side and a fishing side. Cost tokens are also placed on all the order selection spaces besides the first one. This game has a two sided economy for these tiles. You have to play to move to a place with feet and pay to buy things at a tile with shells. To move to a tile, it costs feet. To stay on a tile, costs feet. To go back to the beach is free. Players then go in turn order moving to the tiles and buying what’s there by moving onto one of the cost tiles and placing that location in one of their villages on their own player board. Therefore, cost tokens limit what can be bought each turn. Further complicating things when you buy a tile, you can decide to pay double the cost of the cost token you moved to. If you do this, you buy the more amazing side of the tile for the location. The more amazing sides reduce costs, give your extra points, give you extra money, and in general are better. At the beach players can use boats (something that you can buy from a tile) to go to the islands. These islands give you point as well as locations and money to spend. Also at the beach players can use boats to get the fish tiles that were placed in the lagoon earlier. And finally, players can move on to the turn order track to determine next turns order. While this seems pretty simple, what compounds this is the spending requirements for each round. Each round a token indicates how much players have to spend to get more points. Whoever spends the most gets more points, second most gets slightly less, and then anyone who at least spends the minimum gets a point amount too. However only the token and fish tokens you have count for this spending requirements! Thus if you spend double to get the better version of a tile, it only counts for the original amount. This massively increases the strategy of the game as buying the most expensive thing might backfire in a large way, and deals are an even more amazing values you have to really look for. After all players are on the turn track, the round ends, players get points if they spend enough, the turn spending token indicates how much money everyone gets for the next round, and new spending tokens are placed on all the different buying locations. At the end of the fifth round, players count up points from their villages, and the player with the most is the big Kahuna and next chieftain of the tribe!
Mechanics– When I played this the first time I hated it. I constantly got mixed up in the rules, didn’t understand the general mechanics, and overall was a mess. However after really dissecting this one, it’s amazing. The two different resources are an amazing way to make the game stand out. Feet and shells are not tradable. There is no exchange rate between movement and money, and this makes you have to really decide what parts of your villages you need and must built to win. And built you must. Your village not only gets you end game points, but it also gets you more resources each round. This game forces you to think on about three fronts as well and have to second guess all your opponents to make sure they don’t move to the spot you need next. It’s not perfect as a runaway victor can easily destroy everybody else, but that’s a problem of the other players not seeing the strategies and values that are available. A well versed gamer will decimate a new players, but this game despite having some randomness, is a hard Eurogame. It’s not perfect, but it is some great, thinky fun. 4.5/5
Theme- There is a lot of different Hawaian things here, but not everything feels like it belongs. Surfers reduce the amount have to spend each round to get points by 2 or 4 shells. I don’t know why. Some huts get you extra feet. Also why? What is in this game does feel like something that would come from a tribal island group. They tokens and board all do feel like Hawaian stereotypes. That’s pretty fun. However, I’m not sure why I have feet and shells. Is my chief like Homer Simpson and after too much work, he’s tired for the day? It’s not a perfect fit, but some aspects do feel like they fit. 3.5/5
Instructions– Rio Grande Games does a good job explaining their games. This game has not one, but two rule books! One book gives the basic rules, and the second explains all the pieces in depth. I like that. The game has some sticking points, but honestly, by rereading a few times, you can easily figure out what’s going on. 4.5/5
Execution– The pieces are not bad. It’s well done cardboard with some good wooden tokens. The box is pretty decent, and the components hold up to some wear and tear. It’s not perfect as it’s a bit small, and you have to shuffle some hard cardboard pieces, but overall it’s reasonably well done. 4.5/5
Summary– Time for a personal story. My mother player this game online-once. The next time I come home, she had BOUGHT a physical copy of the game! She paid the over $70 for this game and loves everything about it. Now, we make a point to play this game when I get home. It’s honestly a fun game that has some amazing depth. It’s not perfect as some aspects don’t quite make sense or are not executed as well as may be needed. However, if you see this game online or at the GenCon Game library, pick this one up. When you know what you’re doing, it’s a fast paced game with lots of levels to it that will have you thinking on your feet the entire game. 85%