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Subject: concept of Mana rss

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Tom H
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Hi

Just reading the rules and playbook of CoP and noticed that the concept of mana is missing. This is the traditional understanding of authority and power for a person or tribe. It has an almost spiritual quality in the Pacific with people adding to their mana by heroic deads, slaying others with greater mana, etc.

From my limited understanding the tradition of eating ones conquered opponents and foes stems from the belief that you consume their mana and add to yours. Cannibalism was not practiced as a daily food source but was ritualised and traditional. In some respects the vp system is similar to the concept of mana. I note that in the rules cannibalism doesn't add to your vp but removes enemy warriors as they are a food source.

These are just the thoughts of a random pakeha who has spent some time in NZ and the islands. Has anyone got any thoughts on this or how this could be added into the game?

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Tim Royal
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tomster wrote:
Hi

Just reading the rules and playbook of CoP and noticed that the concept of mana is missing. This is the traditional understanding of authority and power for a person or tribe. It has an almost spiritual quality in the Pacific with people adding to their mana by heroic deads, slaying others with greater mana, etc.

From my limited understanding the tradition of eating ones conquered opponents and foes stems from the belief that you consume their mana and add to yours. Cannibalism was not practiced as a daily food source but was ritualised and traditional. In some respects the vp system is similar to the concept of mana. I note that in the rules cannibalism doesn't add to your vp but removes enemy warriors as they are a food source.

These are just the thoughts of a random pakeha who has spent some time in NZ and the islands. Has anyone got any thoughts on this or how this could be added into the game?



Is it a similar phenomenon to this?


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Kevin McPartland
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Interesting thoughts, Tom.

Have you read my Designer Notes entry for the Cannibalism card? If you have not, and don't have your copy of the game handy, you can read it here:

http://www.gmtgames.com/living_rules/CoP_PlayBook_LR.pdf

As you can see, I cover much of the same ground that you discuss. I certainly do not say that cannibalism was used as a food source by the Polynesians! I see the card's advantage in Battle as more of a complete disintegration of enemy units in battle; a sort of "super panic" where you can not even effectively rally your troops. I think that this was the intended threat of cannibalism (whether it was real or not): to scare the heck out of your opponents.

As far as the term mana, I left it out of the game intentionally. I do not like the way that other games have co-opted the term in a trivial manner (yes, I'm looking at you, Magic: The Gathering). However, I also welcome any ideas that others might have for incorporating the concept of mana into the game!

Kevin
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Tom H
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Hi Kevin. Thanks for the reply. I have read the playbook and found it very interesting, mainly for your explanations which were great.

I think they add a lot to the game and understanding of Polynesian culture. That is why i was a bit surprised to see that the linkages with mana, tapu and winning battles and "cannibalism" were missing. I am no expert but would be worthwhile getting someone with a Maori background or maybe at Te Papa in Wellington to have a read, especially related to Maori culture. I have been reading up on CoP as i was thinking of getting the 2nd edition as i lived and worked with Maori in NZ and my dad has very strong ties in Fiji.

I think there may also be an error when talking about whakapapa in the explanation of powhiri. A canoe in Maori is waka (pronounced woka) and isn't connected to whakapapa. The origin of the word whakapapa is whaka (faaka) meaning built upon and papa meaning broad, flat or hard like a flat rock. Hence the genealogy which is built upon. This is an oral tradition that joins and includes dance (haka), chants, stories, etc.

Again easily checked with someone who has a strong understanding of Maori culture. There are also some terrific online resources.

These are not trivial things and are extremely important to the people and culture. I would not even compare mana in Magic with true Maori mana.



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Kevin McPartland
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Thank you for the kind words, Tom!

toaster wrote:
I was a bit surprised to see that the linkages with... and "cannibalism" were missing.

From what you say, you have a first edition of the game, where the entry for the Cannibalism card (along with parts of other sections) were inexplicably left out of the Designer Notes booklet. This oversight was corrected right away on the "living rules" post on the GMT web site (which I link to above) and also corrected for the Second Edition. Others have accused me of "ducking" the controversial issue of cannibalism. It's a shame that the printing error hit such an important topic.

toaster wrote:
...worthwhile getting someone with a Maori background or maybe at Te Papa in Wellington to have a read, especially related to Maori culture.

Well, my brother lived in Aukland for two years, so I've got a little bit of his experience to fill in my extensive "book learning" on the subject. Also, don't forget that Conquest of Paradise simulates the situation before Maori culture differentiated itself from other Polynesian cultures. That is why the game draws from every Polynesian culture I could find information on- Maori, but also Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Tahiti, Rapa Nui, and even Rarotonga. It was my attempt to cobble together what a "proto-Polynesian" culture might look like.

toaster wrote:
I think there may also be an error when talking about whakapapa...

Well, my research is now at least a decade old, all done before the First Edition came out in 2007. I may have been using some sources that have since been revised or superseded. It seemed to make sense to me at the time: Maori genealogy focuses on tracing lineage to the crews of the first canoes to reach Aotearoa, and the Maori word for canoe is waka. If the explanation is actually more complex that this, then my sources at the time did not pick up on that.

toaster wrote:
Again easily checked with someone who has a strong understanding of Maori culture.

You might still get more than one story from more than one source.

toaster wrote:
There are also some terrific online resources.

One of which I list in the bibliography. (Again, it's rather old, but still active.)

toaster wrote:
These are not trivial things and are extremely important to the people and culture.

I am acutely aware of my outsider status while trying to convey the story of the Polynesian experience (with the game). But what a story it is!

Kevin
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Joonas Kekoni
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BTW. This is NOT a game about māori, there are games about them.

The māori culture (likely) started several hundreds of years after the start of the game(1280?), and likely NZ is found further in the north, so those living there will likely keep the farming lifestyle and not become māori as we know.

If we count game turn as 5 years (I would count it as generation), 1280 is after the end of the game.

... more about the cultural ...

You mentioned that if island loses permanently it last growbox, it will not give the ½ point of atoll. I assume this is due to tapu, right?
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Kevin McPartland
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jkekoni wrote:
if island loses permanently it last growbox, it will not give the ½ point of atoll. I assume this is due to tapu, right?

Just so everybody knows, this is referencing the Advanced Rule for Random Event Cards, specifically the card or two that can permanently remove a Village Box from play- if the card is played on a 1-box Island Group. (Which, by the way, is a particularly effective- and nasty!- way to play the card.)

I suppose you can say it's because of tapu- the island has had such bad luck that it is now forbidden to go there. But it's really just because of the game mechanic: you can get 1/2 VP for Atolls. A 'wrecked' Island Group is not an Atoll. I didn't what to have exceptions to rules creep in and make the game more complex. Also, don't forget that there are other Random Events that can 'revive' such a 'wrecked' Island Group!

Kevin
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3 Minute Boardgames
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Mana is, well it's pretty much everything.

It's how respected you are, your legacy, your lineage (whakapapa) and your personal prestige and power. But it's also spiritual, as places can have mana, places like Mount Taupiri radiate with it.

But it doesn't translate well to any real western concept as its more holistic than the terms we use in English, which tend towards specificity.

Mana doesn't really translate to one word. The closest word in English that has the same complexity to Mana to describe is Love. Which can mean many different things and different concepts and is hard to define as one thing.
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Charles Freitas
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I'm Hawaiian, and the concept of mana in our culture is pretty much the same that has been explained concerning our Maori cousins. We've been told by our kupuna (elders), that mana is the life force that surrounds us (no, not referring to Star Wars :p) It's in just about everything.

In battle it was typical for the victors (the ali'i or chiefs mostly) to ceremonially eat the vanquished to gain their mana. It's debated whether or not Captain Cook was ceremonially eaten (generally it would be the eyes as well as some other parts not the whole body) after he was killed on the Big Island.
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Kevin McPartland
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kainoa wrote:
It's debated whether or not Captain Cook was ceremonially eaten (generally it would be the eyes as well as some other parts not the whole body) after he was killed on the Big Island.

As I mention in the designer's notes for the Cannibalism card, there was an old man in Hawaii in the 19th century who claimed to have eaten Captain Cook's big toe. wow

Kevin
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Charles Freitas
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My copy of the game just arrived this weekend, I haven't had a chance to dive into the literature. Looking forward to playing the game.
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