Tropical cocktail

[Crossposted from the Ra’anana Boardgames Group site.]

hawaii_board

This week’s session was spent mainly playing Hawaii. It is a type of worker placement game with cute pieces and some interesting mechanics. For example, you have to pay (in feet…) to move your piece from one part of the board to another (except when going to the beach). In each part of the board, you may buy (in shells) a tile to add to your village. The variety of tiles, most of which can be bought in single and double levels of ability, do things like add resources each turn, generate victory points when you achieve something or do something, increase your trading ability, and so on. The pieces also include fruit (another currency that can be used in stead of feet or shells), a cute hut to hide your gains behind, ships, islands, a frame for your developing villages and so on. In short, it is full of stuff and systems.

How does it play? There are 5 rounds, and in each round players take it in turn to do one action until they pass and go home. The turn order is important, as the cost for each tile is randomly determined by  a fresh draw each turn. And, once somebody else pays the cost, it is gone. There may, sometimes, be another cost available, but never when it’s my turn…

hawaii_pieces

One clever aspect I liked was that each round there are Victory Points up for grabs according to your accumulated score (of how much you have bought, essentially) during that round. Also, each round specifies – subject to your village special tiles previously bought – what resources you get for the next round.

It’s a tough challenge which only Yehuda had played before. Unsurprisingly, he won by quite a bit. However, I was in the lead every round up until the last one… Elad sneaked ahead of me too by sneakily claiming a rule misunderstanding (and belatedly adjusting his turn) and Laurie and I were in the bottom half of the finishers.

hawaii_01

I found it too complex for the reward it delivered. I don’t see the point in the complexity if it doesn’t deliver a good enough playing experience. (It was like a cocktail drink with too many constituents; hey, I like the rum and the vodka, but do we really need the gin, whisky, cointreau, advocaat, wine, brandy, coconut milk, and apple juice as well?) So, it did not work for me.

I also tend to dislike games such as this which give an overwhelming (in my opinion) advantage to someone who has played before. Many games give an advantage to you if you have played it before and others haven’t. However, in games like this where the advantage is huge, it takes a fair chunk of the enjoyment out of it. That can be overcome by a positive playing experience, but Hawaii was not that.

After that, Elad introduced Laurie and I to Quarriors. This is a dice based game which is a clever adaption of Dominion. Elad won (again, unsurprisingly) but both Laurie and I quite enjoyed it. Compare and contrast with Hawaii? Quarriors was fast, easy, and accessible.

It’s all part of life’s rich gaming experiences, of course, and leaves me hungry for next week’s session!