Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Easter Island

When it comes to games in general, and abstract strategy games in particular, I tend to be rather a stickler for good quality game components.
Board games, at least in my mind, should last, and great games should be something dads teach sons and those sons teach their daughters and so on. I would like to think the crokinole board I constantly beat my son on today, is the same one his son plays on (likely beating his dad too).
Ditto by Omega chess set and several others.
So as an abstract fan I was rather excited to get a chance to play Easter Island.
The game was released first in 2006, and was created by the team of Odet L´Homer and Roberto Fraga, and was immediately intriguing if for no other reason than the cool theme tied to the game’s namesake Easter Island.
Easter Island is in the South Pacific, and is famous for the giant stone statues found there. The island’s inhabitants long ago disappeared without a trace except for the giant Moai. The stone monoliths are a modern conundrum, being so massive that it is difficult to imagine their creations without access to modern tools and machinery. Their creation is the stuff of myth, legend and much conjecture. (As a side note the 1994 movie Rapa Nui is highly recommended regarding Easter Island lore).
This game continues the speculation of what exactly was the purpose of the giant facial statues. The game creators speculated the statues were beam weapons created by two wizards. These wizards used the statues in a giant game, with the island itself as the board.
The board as you might now expect is a gridded representation of the island. It is a good quality cardboard-style playing surface.
Each player in this two-player game, becomes one of the wizards.
There are two types of playing pieces. One is small plastic representations of the Moai. Those pieces are rather neat, and functional being made of plastic.
There are also sun tokens. These are simply cardboard disks. The likelihood of loss and damage to these pieces grows substantially (the biggest disappointment here), so be careful in preserving them.
On a given turn a player has five actions they may take, from placing an additional statue on the board (each player has seven, with four starting on the game board at the beginning of a match), to moving a piece on the board, to placing a sun token, or directing a sun ray through one of your pieces to destroy an opponent’s statue.
If you are relegated to only one statue on the board, you lose.
The game has some intriguing rules. A statue is destroyed if hit from the front, or back, but redirects the ray if hit from the side. However, if there is no target for the redirected ray, then the last statue hit is lost.
The game is certainly one of recognizing combination patterns, and geometric configurations. It is likely a good pool player might grasp Easter Island rather quickly.
The rule set is different enough from most abstract to make this one a refreshing experience, and there is certainly enough strategic possibilities to explore to keep players interested for many games.
If you like brain-burning work-outs this is so the game to explore.
Highly recommended in terms of game play.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Nov.11, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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