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Subject: My review: rss

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Joe Lott
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Ok so, after having my wife break my glasses, I decided to buy a game to console myself. Sure it's a lame excuse, but it worked, and she played the game! It was a toss up between this game, and We the People, my wife would of never played that and I would of felt a little guilty. So here it is:

Components:
Excellent, can't say less, the cards are nice, the counters are nice, but as some one said, it would be cool to have them be actually little Moai. As this would of driven the already steep price of 45$ retail through the roof, I'm ok with it not being such. The cardboard pieces are thick and feel good. Plus they are hidden. The wood bits are a fine example of simplicty and do their job fine. The board, has intresting art of sea creatures decorating it, and provides a simple way of keeping track of what you are doing. A little bigger than nessary, but fine none the less.

A

Rules:
The rules are quite simple, and not quite what I was expecting. I will comment on what I mean by that later.

The game works in phases in which players bid, then assign, then harvest, and rebuild. There is a deck of epoch cards divided into 3 stages. The first stage, is a very much play nice stage, and abundant wood (the only on board resource in the game) comes around. The second epoch is filled with take that hatred, and a few play nice cards. The third, a small stage, contains all take that stuff, plus the game ender. At the beginning of each turn you flip up players+1 of these cards. If the game ender is drawn, it is replaced and the turn becomes the last one (but is finished as normal). The cards first seed the woods, with each card either having or not having a wood symbol. The later cards have less than the earlier cards. Then players get to bid on BIRDMAN!!! (I can't help but think attorney at law).

BIRDMAN!!! is bid on with Rapi Nui cards, these cards are numbered 1-3, with some of the 1's being raid cards also. Players make a secret bid and reveal simul. Ties are decided by the current BIRDMAN!!!, expect that if he is invovled, he always puts himself last. The highest bid is the new BIRDMAN!!!. BIRDMAN!!! decides ties the rest of the round. Also BIRDMAN!!! is the first player.

After the bids are discarded players draft the epoch cards. Each card can be a boat which can be built at the end of the turn, a neutral card, which does nothing special, or a event, which harms some one else (there are a LOT of these) or the island in general. Each card also has a rest number and a number of Rapi Nui cards that you will draw near the end of the turn.

After drawing and resolving any events on cards, the extra one is tossed, and players begin to place Rapi Nui tokens. Each Rapi Nui token is a worker numbered 1-3. These tokens can go on previously built boats for food, or in empty fields for food (these fill up fast each turn, and disappear to top soil loss towards the end of the game) Or they can go to work in the woods, or building Moai. Work in the woods and building Moai is secret. HOWEVER, each turn you will get very few of your workers back home, based on the Rest Value of the last card you played. For the most part you want to Rest a lot of workers, because it allows you to place them again, in diffrent allocations. Few workers to reallocate means less choices on what you do. Workers who worked the previous turn will be face up, so players know what you got going.

Resolution is simple, in the woods, the player with the highest total in each section with a wood avaible gets it. If unopposed they don't even have to reveal the strength of the tokens they placed. BIRDMAN!!! decides ties. Remeber how I talked about Epoch cards deciding the number of wood units avaible each turn? Well this is where both resting workers and going after wood which may or may not be avalible matters. Lets say last turn there were 4 wood items avaliable. You bid on, and perhaps get #4. Well the next turn there is only 3! Your workers in the 4th slot are useless and sitting there with their thumb's up their... well you get the picture. Being able to bring them home to rest allows you to reallocate them, but we will get back to that. Of course, this means that the #1 slot should probaily be a little more contested because any wood will show up there first.

Second is Moai construction. Starting with BIRDMAN!!! players can build Moai, with the total value of tokens in each slot (there are an 'unlimited' number of moai building slots, each one repersents a group of workers working on a statue). Each Moai requires one wood to transport, so if you have no wood, or want to save it for some reason like to build a boat, you can choose not to reveal any unrevieled workers. Even revieled workers can not produce a Moai. The sizes of Moai are 4-10 and there are only 3 of each. If you try to produce a Moai of a size that there is no more of, you get the next lower... SUK!

Then finally we resolve fields/boats. Only one worker per field, and one per boat. Boats are owned by individual players, and fields are first come first serve. As the game goes on, there are less fields do to top soil loss. This is a simple math, were players count the total strength of workers in fields/boats, and sees if that is >= to the total number of tokens they have in play. If so, fine, no problems, if not they must kill off a number of tokens till they reach an equal number to their food growers total production. This is not such a bad thing sometimes, (see my artical on the super cull!) Also, more importantly then initentionally starving off your own people, is by starving you can allow yourself to raid other players.

If you have any raid cards you may play them. A raid card is a special Rapi Nui card, value 1, that allows you to play another card, along side it. You then pick one non-boat, non-field worker of another player, and remove it from play. Your food value for that turn is increased by 1. If you have lots of raid cards, and other cards, you can make multiple raids. The only limit is, that you must play a card with an equal number to the target token. So to raid a 3, you must play a raid and a 3. Of course that means you won't be able to use the 3 for a bid, or to give birth.

After all the culling of population to food/raids is done, we go onto the end. First we get cards based on the epoch card each player chose. This can be from 4-1. Then players must rest tokens equal to a number on the card they chose. This can be 2-5. When resting, you must draw each one from a diffrent location if possible. So if you must rest 3, and you have 1 person in each of the moai, fields, and woods, you must rest one in each, you can not, for example, take all from the woods, or even an extra one. Boats count as a seperate location.

After resting, you may give birth by playing 2 cards, and taking a token of the value equal to the lower of the two cards, so a 3 and a 1 produces a 1, so to get a 3, you need a 3 & 3.

At this point, if the game end card has not been drawn, proceed to the next turn.

Game end points are:
1 for every meter of Moai you have. So a 10m + 4m + 5m is 19 points.
1 for every worker... not a huge amount but can make the differnace, espically if some one kills off all their workers in the last few turns trying just to make Moai.
2 points for every left over wood (Better used to build Moai, as the smallest is 4m)

So how are the rules?
Well as toward clarity and style: B, pretty good.
Well as towards what I think of them: B, also pretty good.

Gameplay:
Gameplay is one giant big F-U. Not only are you competing over very limited resources that only get more limited as the game goes on, the game also gives the players lots of ways to conflict with each other. So there is a lot of backstabbing (it's mostly too the face, not really in the back) as the other reviewers have said. I need a bit more experince before I can make any real super definitions of play, but I like the gameplay. It's just a like knife fight in a phone booth. The game can end quick, or can take a while if players think too much. Lots of get the leader mentality flys around. While it works 2 player, it seems much better with 4. I have not played it with 5, but I think I really like 4.

Overall though it is a simple game, just a controlled descent into hell.

Grade: B- not a super game, but fun none the less.


Whew!!! that was a lot of typing...
Let me tell you what I mentioned earlier about not being quite what I expected. Having read what the game is about, I expected it to be more about the players struggling over dwindling resources that they themselves cause the loss off. Overforestation by the players, but instead it's by the game. You have no choice. Every player could play nice with the enviroment, and only bid on 1 of the many pieces of wood out there on the early turns, and still have the game decrease the supply. Overfarming and top soil loss to less forests is a result of random cards, and while players can choose not to take those cards, if more than 1 comes out in a turn, then players must. It's forced on you. There is no 'prisoners dilemma' which I was expecting (my opponent is chopping down a bunch of trees for Moai transport, so I can't afford not to either, even though I want to take a much more broad approach). Instead you play all out, because you know, trying to be more friendly with the enviroment won't matter. You are forced into acting like the natives did, not like they should off. While this is ok, and still makes a good game, it does not allow me to see the situation in action by it's self which I was expecting. O' well.
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Darrell Hanning
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Quote:
Every player could play nice with the enviroment, and only bid on 1 of the many pieces of wood out there on the early turns, and still have the game decrease the supply.


Well, right...but what do you suppose the players taking any wood represents? The ecology on the island was so small that any unnatural depletion of the forests was likely to start a downward spiral. While it may not seem to you that your peoples are the ones responsible, they still are - it's only that the rate of depletion isn't directly tied to the previous turn's availability that misleads you. Every turn, trees are being chopped down, and the reproduction rate can't keep up. This results in a smaller forest as time goes by, and the cards reflect that.
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Joe Lott
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The trick is, it doesn't matter how much, it simply happens, stop period, the end. There is NO control over it happening and to what degree at all. NONE. It will and does happen because that is the way it is according to the game. Like I said, while this game is fun, I would of liked to of seen a mechanic that enforces this by players action and not simply fait, but that is not what this game does.
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Darrell Hanning
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I think you're asking of a "Euro-style" game what one normally might find in a "simulation-style" game.

But realistically speaking, depletion of the forest was essentially beyond the little understanding the natives had for the fragility of such a small ecosystem. In short, this is no more nor less than as it should be - you don't have any control, because the natives, in their fervor and relative ignorance, had no real control, either. It is an irony from which to succor humor (albeit of a blacker nature), not an irritant for which to blackmark the game. In terms of gameplay, your proposed, increased control over environmental elements would not improve the game in any substantial way. (The game isn't about saving the island, or controlling the rate of consumption of its resources, the game is about doing better in idol-building than your competitors.) It would serve only to give you a "tuning dial" that the natives historically lacked - and may not even match a real-world decimation in any realistic fashion, anyway. Such things, after all, are not linear in their rate of failure.
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Joe Lott
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you have missed entirely my point by your defense of this game.
I will just remind you, as a game, I still give it a B-, that's better than average. I rate it a 7. It's a decent game, and I will say no more.
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Nick Case
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We just played this and the random card draw at the start really seems to set the tone for the playing order and subsequent card draws, which can on their own take a player out of contention with minimal oportunity to avoid massively depleated assets compared to others sittibg around the table.

With playing order being so crucial I find the balance of the game to be skewed and to tilt more as the game continues. Not an enjoyable experience unless you enjoy a very chaotic kick up.
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