Players: 3 or 4
Time: 60 to 90 minutes
Bits: Not knowing the publishing biz, I don’t know how difficult it is to produce a box with art, a board that is a bit more than laminated paper, and non-generic pawns. This game’s components are a notch above a Cheapass game. Special problem: The special colored dice included have a truly bad shade of blue and purple for us color blind gamers. In addition the ‘purple’ color on the board is closer to a dark shade of red than purple. It appears as the ‘Fisherman’ profession, and one of the Quarry event colors on the board. When I played, the designer was watching, and since 2 of us were color-blind, we told him “Symbols, symbols, symbols! Always add symbols”.
Rules : This is what you pay for. The rules are well laid out and contain detailed explanations of several situations. They also contain Historical information about the tribes of Easter Island and thus add to the theme of the game quite nicely.
Game Play: The actual game play is quick. Normally you roll 3 dice and you must place your result in 3 separate areas. One is just for you, one is for everybody, and one is for the Event. Determine the combination that gives you the best advantage in resources, or allows you to do what you want or need to do this turn, build stuff and you’re done. As in all ‘euro’ games, it’s the deciding that is the fun. A note about the resources; food, tools and labor replenish, but wood doesn’t. It’s this lack of wood replenishment that determines game end. Run out of wood, game over. i.e. Deforest your island, civilization over. The progression on building makes intuitive sense. You start with one worker in each resource production slot, after you produce resources, you can make more labor in a production slot by expending the designated resources. e.g 2 wood and 2 food make a fisherman (and boat), 2 tools and 2 food make a forester, etc..
When the Event track hits the ‘end’ (3 with 3 players, 4 with 4 players) the game turns off the ‘limited action’ type of game and into a bidding and heavy negotiation game; with someone taking the fall, getting the knife in the back, etc… There are three events. Quarry, got to have rocks to make the statues; Famine, Food? Who needs food! We must make statues to honor the gods and become Hatu Matu!; and Disaster – Did I mention that the statue rock is volcanic? Yeah, that comes with it’s own bit of fun too. When an Event is triggered, a clever square card that is divided into 4 sections is positioned by the active player, and the bidding and
swearing…er… negotiation begins. Bids are round and round until all but one pass. AS you bid, you change the orientation of the card, positioning it to maximizes or minimizes it’s effect for you or possibly someone else if a good deal was struck. If deals with the others have been made, they pay the auction winner whatever they agreed on (no renege) and the effects of the card are implemented. Then the Event track that just happened is reset and play continues. This continues until the trees are all gone or someone gets all 20 statues to the island. I seriously wonder if that is likely. The other players would have to be asleep to let that happen (IMHO).
I enjoyed this game, even with it’s sub-par bits and color issues. The rules are well laid out with examples, the theme is nicely researched with historical notes. Even though most turns are decisions made to maximize or mitigate the luck of the dice, the event bidding and negotiation gives it the extra push for me. So, I bought it. (7/10)