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Subject: Aloha Fun and Aloha Boredom rss

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Gerald Gan
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Hawaii is a game for two to five players, published by Rio Grande Games in 2011. It is designed by Greg Daigle, and plays in about ninety to one hundred twenty minutes.

Hawaii is about making your village on this beautiful island as profitable as possible.

DISCLAIMER: This is my first review in awhile, and I'd like to apologize if my thoughts seem scattered and the review ends up being uninformative.

COMPONENTS:
The game comes with a rulebook, a bunch of wooden chieftain meeples, fruit meeples, feet meeples and shell meeples. It also comes with a jigsaw-type board that you have to assemble, five individual player boards, five individual player screens, and a whole box load of cardboard tiles/boards/tokens of varying shapes and sizes (which include but are not limited to cardboard coins, hula dancer counters, kahuna hex counters and more). Check out the picture below to have a clearer idea of what's inside the box.


Picture Submitted By: Olivier Lamontagne || Taken From the BGG Database


The wooden components are of decent quality... what you'd expect from your regular meeples/wooden euro components. The cardboard tokens and player boards are very nice... they're quite thick and sturdy. Everything is very colorful, and the artwork is very fitting with the whole Hawaiian theme.

The rulebook is written extremely well, and answers most if not all of your questions, with little need to keep going back to check on the rulebook during the course of the game. The only exception to this, is the need to read (and often re-read) the abilities of the god tiles/tokens during the first couple of plays... but once you get used to the iconography on the cards, everything falls into place quite nicely.

Overall, the components are very good, specially considering the game's low price point.

GAMEPLAY:
As with all my other reviews, I will not delve into every minute detail of the rules. I will only give a quick overview on how the game plays.

Setup is simple, but a little fiddly. First, you randomly arrange the ten island tiles to fit within the jigsaw-type outer board (pictured above). Afterwards, you seed all ten island tiles with their corresponding resource tiles (i.e. boats, surfers, irrigation tiles, etc.). Then you place down four face-up island tiles, leaving the rest of the island tiles face-down beside them. You give each person their corresponding chieftains and sub-chieftains, along with their player board and screen. The sub-chieftains are placed on the score track and on the turn order track pictured below). You then draw coins from a bag to seed the pricing for the resource tiles... most of 'em go on the board, but some of them are turned into fish (I'm not going to go into minute detail of which goes to where and which becomes which). You then place the round markers on it's appropriate spot in chronological order, and give each player thirteen shell meeples, nine feet meeples and a number of fruit meeples depending on the player order. After all that... you're ready to play the first round.


Picture Submitted By: Raiko Puust || Taken From the BGG Database


Now, don't be taken aback, and get turned off by what seems like a lengthy setup. Yes, setup is a little fiddly and yes, it takes a little time... but, good things come to those who wait. Your patience will be rewarded.

The game lasts five rounds... every round, two things happen. First, you take actions using your chieftain, then when everyone is done taking actions, an end of round scoring occurs.

A chieftain can be moved towards the main island or towards the beach. Moving in the sections within the beach is free, but moving within the main island cost feet meeples (the cost depends on the distance travelled). The action you take depends on where you land. Actions within the main island (pictured below) consist of taking tiles to build-up your village. These tiles cost a certain amount of shell meeples (randomly determined during set-up and in-between rounds). The beach is comprised of three sections. The turn order track, which determines who goes when the next round. The cove, where you can send your chieftain and your boat(s) to fish. And the docks which allow you to garner victory points and specific islet bonuses, ranging from hula dancers to fruit meeples to more victory points. Players can take as many actions as they like as long as they are either able to or until they purposely choose to pass. Once every player has passed, an end of round scoring occurs. After five rounds, an end of game scoring occurs.


Picture Submitted By: igomin || Taken From the BGG Database


I realize that I glossed over A LOT of things, but that's the basic gist of the game, and should give the reader a very rough idea on how the game plays. For a more comprehensive rule walkthrough, I refer you to this excellent video review.

Q & A W/ MY WIFE:
Q: So how'd you like the game?
A: I liked it. On a scale of one to ten, I'd give it a solid eight. I found the village building mechanic very nice, and I liked the tightness of the action choosing mechanic.

Q: What did you think of the components?
A: The components are very good. Eye-catching artwork and beautiful components.

Q: Did you find it hard to understand how to play the game?
A: No.  The rules were pretty straightforward and you pretty much know what to do after a few turns. The double-sided tiles were initially confusing, but nothing earth shattering. 

Q: The million dollar question... will you play it again?
A: A resounding yes. It's a great game with great mechanics and I really enjoyed playing it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Hawaii is a great game by a relatively new designer that's more than worth the price of admission. While it does heavily borrow some mechanics from previous games, it puts those mechanics together in such a way that results in a very tight and entertaining game. It works well with two and with five (the only number of players I've played it with), though the game plays very differently depending on the number of players.

If you're a fan of euros, be sure to try this game out.
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Jimmy Okolica
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Nice Review.

Your title says Hawaii Fun and Hawaii Boredom... what part of the game did you find boring?
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Gerald Gan
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
Nice Review.

Your title says Hawaii Fun and Hawaii Boredom... what part of the game did you find boring?


I actually meant for it to say Hello Fun and Goodbye Boredom, as "Aloha" is used for both hello and goodbye in Hawaii (or so I was told).
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Peter Marchlewitz
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When I read the title, I thought that it was boring according to you. I am glad that that is not what you meant as I plan to order this game very soon.
Cheers
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Andy Andersen
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Thanks for the great review
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Tim Royal
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Good review, and I agree with many of your points. I actually found the components themselves to be greater than good, because they were not only solid quality but also thematic. Instead of using 'white cubes for feet' and 'orange cubes for money', they actually have FEET for feet, SHELLS for money, and lime shapes for fruit. Like Finca, I think that's an added touch that really goes beyond some of the other $30 games. I wish Lords of Waterdeep had taken a similar path. It's a small touch, but one that reaps dividends to me.

Fiddly setup is a turn-off, though the game itself is not too fiddly once in motion (0ther than rebooting the price tokens on each parcel of the island). More setup than I like, but tolerable.

Most of the iconography is explanatory, but I agree that the only real point of research was remembering all the God tile powers. I also wish that they would have noted more clearly what bonuses were "end of game" and which were during game. Again, a small quibble.

The big issue I found was what appears to be an overpowered Spear Hut. A player who can buy several of these gets a long lead that is hard to overcome, as every price token they obtain can give them several bonus points. Seems innocuous, but definitely seems to be a trend that the player who invests in these wins. More research required to determine the scope of this.
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Auzette wrote:
The big issue I found was what appears to be an overpowered Spear Hut. A player who can buy several of these gets a long lead that is hard to overcome, as every price token they obtain can give them several bonus points. Seems innocuous, but definitely seems to be a trend that the player who invests in these wins. More research required to determine the scope of this.


I think it is a sign of a good game when you see several different threads/posts reporting something to be overpowered and they are all about different things. I have seen this stated about fruit, hula dancers, certain god tiles, boats and now spears.
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kneumann wrote:
Auzette wrote:
The big issue I found was what appears to be an overpowered Spear Hut. A player who can buy several of these gets a long lead that is hard to overcome, as every price token they obtain can give them several bonus points. Seems innocuous, but definitely seems to be a trend that the player who invests in these wins. More research required to determine the scope of this.


I think it is a sign of a good game when you see several different threads/posts reporting something to be overpowered and they are all about different things. I have seen this stated about fruit, certain god tiles, boats and now spears.


Agreed. The spear hut purchaser is, most likely, attempting to get most of his points during the game sacrificing flexibility towards the latter half of the game having not invested as much in shell/foot/fruit producing tiles (as resources become more scarce in later rounds). Of course, if you see another player buying up spear huts, well, go get one yourself and at least make them more expensive for him!
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Jimmy Okolica
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kneumann wrote:
Auzette wrote:
The big issue I found was what appears to be an overpowered Spear Hut. A player who can buy several of these gets a long lead that is hard to overcome, as every price token they obtain can give them several bonus points. Seems innocuous, but definitely seems to be a trend that the player who invests in these wins. More research required to determine the scope of this.


I think it is a sign of a good game when you see several different threads/posts reporting something to be overpowered and they are all about different things. I have seen this stated about fruit, hula dancers, certain god tiles, boats and now spears.


I don't know anyone who said fruit was overpowered whistle

I agree. After having played a bunch more times, I think the games is well balanced. That is to say, in any given game, depending on the distribution of price tiles in the first round or two, anyone of these strategies may dominate. This means replayability should be fairly high. I've played I think 18 times online (as well as a handful of games face to face), and I really like it a lot.
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Jimmy Okolica
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Raiyfe wrote:
Butterfly0038 wrote:
Nice Review.

Your title says Hawaii Fun and Hawaii Boredom... what part of the game did you find boring?


I actually meant for it to say Hello Fun and Goodbye Boredom, as "Aloha" is used for both hello and goodbye in Hawaii (or so I was told).


lol... blush my bad.
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Tim Royal
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matthew.marquand wrote:
kneumann wrote:
Auzette wrote:
The big issue I found was what appears to be an overpowered Spear Hut. A player who can buy several of these gets a long lead that is hard to overcome, as every price token they obtain can give them several bonus points. Seems innocuous, but definitely seems to be a trend that the player who invests in these wins. More research required to determine the scope of this.


I think it is a sign of a good game when you see several different threads/posts reporting something to be overpowered and they are all about different things. I have seen this stated about fruit, certain god tiles, boats and now spears.


Agreed. The spear hut purchaser is, most likely, attempting to get most of his points during the game sacrificing flexibility towards the latter half of the game having not invested as much in shell/foot/fruit producing tiles (as resources become more scarce in later rounds). Of course, if you see another player buying up spear huts, well, go get one yourself and at least make them more expensive for him!


Fair enough, and agreed. As I mentioned, it would take more research than we've put into it to determine if this was really an imbalance or not. And yes, It makes sense that the player trying to earn points during the game may sacrifice choices that contribute to end game score.

I'm really surprised how refined and tuned the game is overall, given that the designer has only this game to his credit. I look forward to seeing more of his work.
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Tim Royal
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Raiyfe wrote:
Butterfly0038 wrote:
Nice Review.

Your title says Hawaii Fun and Hawaii Boredom... what part of the game did you find boring?


I actually meant for it to say Hello Fun and Goodbye Boredom, as "Aloha" is used for both hello and goodbye in Hawaii (or so I was told).


Yeah, unfortunately a lot of folks might not know the intended meaning, and expect the game at a glance to be "fun at times, and boring at times".
 
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Good review. We've been really enjoying this one. I've tried different strategies each time and they seem to come off. Looking forwards to the new bits in the Spielbox magazine next month.
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Antonio Tang
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I read it as a play on words: "A Lotta Fun and A Lotta Boredom."
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Palpatine wrote:
When I read the title, I thought that it was boring according to you. I am glad that that is not what you meant as I plan to order this game very soon.
Cheers


I thought you were saying it was boring too. Maybe you should change the title so it does not confuse people. More people are likely to read the review if they think you bringing a great game to their attention.

... and yes, I think Hawaii is a great game. I think it deserves more attention.
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Re: Aloha Fun and Goodbye Boredom
My big question is: what makes this stand out? There are a lot of euros out there with similar mechanics.
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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Re: Aloha Fun and Goodbye Boredom
dumpty wrote:
My big question is: what makes this stand out? There are a lot of euros out there with similar mechanics.


I'm still formulating my thoughts on this, but I think there are a couple of things that makes this a very good game:

1. It's worker placement; however, most of the time, you can still go to a location after another player; it just costs you more. Since some people have issues with the blocking nature of WP, this might make the game more appealing.
2. Depending on how the price tokens come up in round 1 (and maybe round 2), players need to adjust their strategies. Some games a Fruit strategy is very strong, or a Spear strategy, or a strong Island strategy. In other games because of the prices and availability of he tiles needed to implement these strategies, a particular strategy may be weak compared to a different one. As a result, there is a good amount of replayability.
3. The components are very nice. Actual feet meeples are cool. The tokens are colored and shaped like feet, shells and fruit (kind of). The rulebook is well put together and after a single read-through and game, the only time you'll need to refer to it again is for the particular god tiles.
4. The game scales well and doesn't overstay its welcome.
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Tim Royal
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Re: Aloha Fun and Goodbye Boredom
dumpty wrote:
My big question is: what makes this stand out? There are a lot of euros out there with similar mechanics.


Butterfly nailed a lot of the essence of what sets Hawaii apart.

* Even though it's a worker placement game, it's not "workers placement". You have one chief only, one choice, per turn. That means every turn needs to count as precisely as possible to what your goals are. It means calculating the cost of placement more than just utilizing an action and/or blocking another player's ability to use a beneficial action.

* I don't rank a game's value solely on components, but the compelling elements of actual feet, shells, and fruit shapes immerses me in the setting of Hawaii. Shallow perhaps, but there it is...

* I love the "Supercharge" element, where you can double up on buying a tile to get a bonus effect. It's a painful decision because it still only counts for the non-doubled price, which may impeded end of round scoring opportunities. At the same time, the bonuses tend to lend themselves well toward getting a leg up in some facet of the game over your opponents.

* The various ways that players score points is diffused to many different areas of focus. That often distracts players who want a fairly narrow path to victory, and who might get overwhelmed by having too many avenues of victory to pursue. In this game, however, the various manners of acquiring points makes thematic sense and all the various pathways seem to overlay each other in what seems to be a fairly balanced fashion. Someone above showed, for example, that my fears about a 'spear heavy strategy being too powerful' were mitigated by other strategies that were equally as valid.

* There's quite a bit of "smile and stab" here. You're not directly blocking or attacking anyone, but you can find all kinds of ways to politely mess with others. For example, if they're close to the end of a round and need more place tile points but you guess they're low on feet/shells, you can always choose to fish out the pond and leave them without recourse.

I guess the bottom line is that unlike many of my worker placement games, which I do enjoy, playing Hawaii despite its similarities doesn't feel like a worker placement game to me.
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Steve Duff
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Re: Aloha Fun and Goodbye Boredom
The title is perfect, I don't get why folks are having trouble with it.

Aloha means both hello and goodbye, so you don't know if he's saying "Hello fun, goodbye boredom", or "Goodbye fun, hello boredom".

That's the entire point. That's the hook to the reader. "I'd better open the thread and read it, to see if he liked it or hated it".
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Matej Dolenc
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I was also confused with the title at first. You scared me! I am going to buy this game. Now. I will visit my local store in 10 minutes and buy it.
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Worker Placement Game? At first, I disagreed with that categorization, but after further thought I agreed.

The archetypal WP game is Caylus. What categorizes that is: players sequentially place workers, each entitling the player to a privelege. Once a "spot" is taken, it excludes others.

There is a growing trend in WP games such as Dominant Species and Pret A Porter to not have a single space per action, but to have multiple spaces which allow more than one player to select the same action, but at increasing expense or decreasing effectiveness. For example, in DS, a later player choosing a given action will take a resource, but gets only what is left after previous players choose.

Think of the Hawaii board as having a space for a worker on each Price Tile. In your turn, you place a worker (pretend you have many) on a price tile, and then buy the item there at the price of the token you're on.

Now in Hawaii, there are two differences from a literal WP mechanism, one superficial, one meaningful.

The superficial difference is that, rather than placing multiple workers on the price tiles and covering them up, you just move your worker around and take the tile off the board. But the game could have easily been designed the other way with no change in effect.

The meaningful difference is that there is a cost, in "feet", to each subsequent place you put a worker, depending on its distance from the last place you went. In fact, you move your sole worker around, but it could have been done (more clumsily) by having you measure the distance from the last worker you placed.

So yeah, I do see it as a worker placement game - just disguised a little.
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Good review. 4 things I noted while we were playing though:

1. Worth mentioning is the big 4 random factors in the game- how the island tiles are placed, the available islands by the beach, the action tokens placed, and the available shrines. These create game variability but may end up really hurting some strategies, depending on what get revealed.

2. The components, while admittedly nice to look at, could still be better, at least in terms of size. Some of us found it hard to distinguish the big shell/feet/fruit components with the small ones.

3. Part of the feet worker placement mechanic is the fact that the islands by the beach require feet to access. As some structures grant more feet, it creates another avenue for victory, say ignoring the main island for the most part and mostly focusing on the smaller lands (probably not very viable though as you'll still want to spend your shells).

4. Hawaii is a good game but man, for the AT player, is it thematically boring. I still don't know why we were racing for VP!
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Matt Davis
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Yeah, this is definitely a eurogame special paste-on theme. That said, what's fascinating me about the game (3 plays in) is the wonderful balance. There are a lot of different ways to score points, and all seem like viable ways to win - players need to balance all those options and pay attention to what strategy will be the best/most efficient to pursue as the game goes on.
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Brett Myers
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coolpapa wrote:
Yeah, this is definitely a eurogame special paste-on theme. That said, what's fascinating me about the game (3 plays in) is the wonderful balance. There are a lot of different ways to score points, and all seem like viable ways to win - players need to balance all those options and pay attention to what strategy will be the best/most efficient to pursue as the game goes on.


I wouldn't call it a paste-on theme, exactly. This iteration was designed specifically with the Hawaiian kingdom theme in mind and was demo'd to HiG as Hawaii. There were other themes in earlier development, but the game structure was changed significantly with each re-development.
 
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