Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Gregory Daigle


No. of Players:
2 - 5



Gamebox author Marco Klasmeyer writes about the game:

HAWAII is a settling and building game based on the famous island in the Pacific - Hawaii. You take the role of a chieftain and build your small villages on your own beach territory, starting with a simple shack or surfers' hangout. You may try to build up to five different villages at the same time. In the course of the game you can extend some or all of them with new buildings, settle surfers and Hula-dancers, set up water supply and start growing fruits or just go fishing. Kahunas (priests) and Tikis (humanoid carvings) protect your villages and score at the end of the game. Also the Hawaiian gods can be worshipped and their worship tiles (temples) enhance the villages. Palm trees, coconuts, long boards, fishing, dancing, celebration - that's the impression you get from the game box cover, but what you really get is a well-designed purchase and building game with a manifold scoring mechanism.

Hawaii - in the course of the game

Speaking of the game box, HAWAII comes with a plenty of neatly designed game tokens (wood and cardboard). The whole game board will be constructed at the beginning by 6 tiles forming the main island with its long beach as well as some smaller surrounding islands. The inner main island contains the various purchase places (10) for buildings or other village extensions which are randomly distributed. Four small islands are placed near the 4 landings on the beach, the remaining islands are placed face down and will be used as supply stack for new islands. So each game set up will look differently and may lead to a different choice of strategy in the course of the game, because your chieftain needs to move to purchase items and the longer distances are more expensive than short ones. On each purchase place the corresponding tokens are placed: 5 sea shell shacks, 5 foot shacks (yes, foot, not food), 5 spear barracks, 5 change booths, 5 long cots, 5 irrigation kits, 10 Hula-dancers, 16 fruits (breadfruit, coconut, taro and banana), 8 boats, 10 surfers, 25 Kahunas, 15 Tikis and 12 worship tiles, last but not least a bag full of price tokens (values from 2 to 6) and wooden tokens for fruits, sea shells and feet, the three "currencies" of HAWAII.

After the first good impression when unpacking the game box and its many tiles and tokens I started reading the rules and was immediately confused, because I found three different brochures which proclaimed themselves being "the rules": One with the basic rules, one with detailed explanations and one corrective brochure with additional explanations for the previous two. After reading first the basic rules, I had no clue how to play HAWAII, because what you really need is to know which kind of tiles you can buy and build and what their effect is, how you get "money" (feet, fruits and seas shells) and what benefits the Hawaiian gods may give to your villages. Having read the second one I had a rough overview of all my possibilities in the course of the game (and there are a lot of them). Finally I took the third brochure with corrective notes and additional explanations and strategic hints and the image got much clearer. So "the rules" are scattered over three brochures cross referencing each other and each one providing pieces of information needed to get the full picture of the rule set - I cannot imagine how you could write and print rules worse. In addition to the paper war of rule brochures there is no short rule overview or summary tableau which is quite a common thing for other games. So understanding the game needs some practice and a good part of your gaming table to place three open brochures.

But let's forget this publishing flaw. As you might have noticed, there was no hard currency, money or gold mentioned yet. In HAWAII you have to pay with sea shells, feet and fruits, depending on what you want to do or buy. As start budget you get 13 seas shells, 7 feet and 0-5 fruits depending on the number of players participating and the corresponding turn order position of each player. You need feet to move your chieftain or visit an island or go fishing. With seas shells you can only buy items from the purchase places, and fruits can be used to substitute both other kinds of currencies. You may not mix up the currencies, so you have to pay the full required amount in either sea shells or fruits but not with a mixture of both.

The game is played in five equally structured rounds. Each round simply consists of the chieftains' movement and purchase phase and a small evaluation phase at the end of each round. The turn order is given by the order of the players chieftain token on the turn order board. A player may use his chieftain to perform the following activities during his turn: Hawaii - main board

  • move onto the main island and purchase items and extensions for your villages
  • go fishing at the fishermen's harbor to get fish tokens
  • visit an island and receive some bonus
  • move to a free space on the turn order board and mark this position for the next round. This final action quits the player's round (no more actions allowed anymore).

A player's chieftain can move to a purchase place and has to pay this movement with foot tokens. A purchase place can contain several different purchase items (village extensions, fruits, boots, surfers and dancers, Kahunas and Tikis). Each purchase place has a number of price tokens (0-3) with values from 2 to 6, which are more or less randomly distributed at the start of each round. The player chooses a price token and the item he wants to buy for that price. If there is no price token left, then no one can buy anything there. He has to pay the complete price with either seas shells or fruits solemnly - no mixed combinations (exception: the player owns a change-booth). The player takes the purchased item and the price token, the price token has a second meaning at the end of each turn.

Each purchase item has two sides, one with level I and one with level II, usually with stronger effects or more benefits. If the player pays twice the price he immediately acquires the level II side of that item. After purchasing the item of level I or II the item has to be placed in a village of the player. Once an item is placed at a certain level it may not be changed anymore, so it is not possible to upgrade anything already built in your villages. A village is built up as a row of items in front of the player (angle shaped village board). Each item may only appear once in a village and a player may only build up to five villages. Kahunas are placed in front of a village (first to fifth village, no free spaces allowed). Tikis are placed above all villages from right to left with no free spaces allowed as well. Kahunas and Tikis score only at the end of the game.

Hawaii - village board

For the final evaluation at the end of the game it is important to know that only villages covered by at least one Tiki do score at all! Villages that do not have a row of buildings and items overlapping with the row of Tikis are not considered at the final evaluation. Kahunas yield valuable victory points for each village protected by a Tiki: the points for the fifth village's Kahuna (15) scores three times the points of the first village's Kahuna (5). So one possible strategy is to build only few villages, which must be long enough to get under the protection of the Tikis, thus one does not need to waste any resources for acquiring Tikis. Another strategy is to build many short villages together with some Tikis and Kahunas so that Tikis and villages overlap at the end of the game. The correct balancing is found somewhere in the middle...

Besides moving across the inner island and buying extensions for the villages, a player can also take some actions at the beach. For instance he can go fishing: at the fishermen's harbor a varying number of fish tokens (with 1-3 fishes each) is placed at the beginning of each round. If a player decides to go fishing, he has to pay one foot for each fish token he wants to take (regardless of the depicted number of fishes) and he has to provide enough space on his boats for carrying this amount of fish tokens (each player has at least one small boat for two tokens, but he can buy larger boats in the course of the game). The fish tokens as well as the price tokens from a purchase action have a special meaning at the end of a round.

Another possible activity is to visit one of the islands surrounding Hawaii. Each island which can be visited has an own landing place and a price for the short boat trip (to be paid with feet - it's a movement). The price varies from 3 to 6 feet. Additionally to the number of feet to be paid the player needs the same amount of free capacities on his boats, e.g. for a trip to an island for 4 feet he needs to play 4 feet and also 4 free boat seats. If a boat offers more free seats but is used for a visit, it cannot be used for anything else in this round (other visit or fishing). The player gets as revenue a number of victory points for the island visit and the action available on the island (depicted on the island card). This can be either one or more purchase items usually directly of level II, extra victory points, 2 Tikis or 2 Kahuanas.

If a player decides that he cannot or does not want to do anything more in this round, he can move his chieftain to the order marker for the next round and thus quit his turn. Except for the first place all others provide a bonus price token for quitting the round.

When all players have quit their turns by moving their chieftains to the order markers the round ends and an intermediate evaluation takes place. Each of the five rounds has an own round marker or token with several special meanings:

Hawaii - round markers

  • The bold number in the upper left corner defines a round goal to obtain the additional victory points. The sum of price token values and fish tokens values collected during the current round must be equal to or higher than that round goal. The round goal increases from round to round making it more difficult to obtain these extra victory points.
  • Below the round goal number the distribution of victory points is displayed for those reaching the goal. The player with the highest sum of collected points gets the victory points from the first column, the player with second highest sum gets the points from the second column and all other players who meet the round goal get the number of the third column. All players who do not meet the round goal do not get any victory points.
  • The right hand side of the round marker displays the resources for the next round, i.e. the number of seas shells and feet each player obtains for managing the next round regardless of reaching the round goal. The amount of gratis resources decreases from round to round. This makes it more and more important to have an own independent resource income.
This cute little round marker now puts some really hard pressure on all players. For each round they have to collect enough price tokens and fishes in order to get the extra victory points. If you miss this goal but your opponents do not, then you might get in severe trouble winning the game. Price tokens can only be collected by purchasing items (sea shells) and fish must be fished (feet). From the beginning of each round you are aware of the resource refresh for the next round. Realizing that it will be less than what you plan to buy and also realizing that it will be less than what you have now. The challenging point is that you need to spend more and more resources for gathering price tokens and fish to reach the round goal but you get only less and less resources for free. This challenge is definitely lost if you do not have your own resources (produced in your own sea shell or foot shacks or your own fruit plantation of course). In the fourth and fifth round the goal of collected price tokens is so high that it would be almost impossible to get the victory points if there were not surfers. Surfing makes life easy, and for each surfer residing in your villages the round goal is reduced by 2 (level I) or 4 (level II) for that player - that's a great relief!

After the fifth round HAWAII ends and the final evaluation takes place immediately. All villages which are not under the protection of a Tiki (overlapping) are simply discarded - regardless what is built there. So you should really take care of those villages, which contain special items scoring only at the final evaluation. For instance the worship of God Kanaola brings 1 (I) or 2 (II) victory points for each surfer or boat, but only if the village Kanaola was built in gets into the final evaluation, otherwise a lot of points are lost. There are two worship tiles which only score at the end, Kanaola and Laka. God Laka yields 1 (I) or 2 (II) victory points for each fruit item built in any of your villages. Also Kahunas only count if the village itself counts. If a village contains irrigation for growing fruits, 1/2/3/4 different fruit items in that village yield correspondingly 1/3/6/10 victory points. If a Hula-dancer resides in a village, each tile of that village counts 1 (I) or 2 (II) victory points. <

HAWAII offers a broad variety of winning strategies: the amount and size of villages (many or few, long or short), setting more on Kahunas or Tikis or both, getting support from the gods, growing fruits and building irrigation for the final evaluation, trying to get more victory points during the 5 building rounds and/or at the final evaluation, fighting always against the round goal to gather some extra points (just to outdo your opponents)… All these decisions depend also on the setup of the main island. Since your chieftain always starts his movement on the beach, some purchase items are near and others are far away. Thus the costs of following a certain strategy may vary a lot with the distance to reach them. So it might not be worth trying to grow fruits simply because they must be purchased at the very last corner of the island. Even from round to round the costs of the purchase items will vary. A price of 2 to 4 sea shells could be considered as fair, a price of 5 or 6 seems not very attractive, but what if it is the last item available?

I have not mentioned the number of players yet. HAWAII can be played with only two players or with up to five. The more players participate the tougher the fight for some purchase items will be. For instance most shacks and booths are only five times available - in theory one for each player, but what if one player buys more than one for his five villages? In contrast to the extreme resource lacking situation with five players the less competitive is the two player game is in terms of purchase items. In a two player game you almost never get into the situation that an item is not available anymore. It is only possible that the price will be higher or in worst case that no price tokens are left. This situation is the normal case for four or five players. Since the distribution of price tokens is limited to three at maximum for a purchase item per round, in a four to five player game it is quite likely that you cannot buy what you have planned. So switching strategies and making the best out of the remaining possibilities is the best (and only) advice.

The turn order is the key to have a better choice, but that means quitting the previous round earlier than the opponents. Since only five rounds are played, you cannot simply skip a round just to be the first in the next round.

To sum it up, HAWAII offers so many facets and possibilities, that it is impossible to make out one specific winning strategy - this makes it an extremely interesting and exciting game that will not lose its tension for a long while. With this game Gregory Daigle has made a splendid debut in the hard-fought field of build and purchase games, and the great variety of its gameplay makes HAWAII one of the strategy highlights of the SPIEL '11.

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