Thoughts on “Hawaii” Board Game

Just played Greg Daigle’s Hawaii for the first time (2-players), and wanted to jot down a few of my thoughts on it. In the game, players are given a certain number of “feet” tokens each round, and you can accumulate more by taking certain actions (it’s a worker placement game). The feet allow you to “walk” between action spaces, which gives the game a unique spatial element to the worker placement; now you have to take into account the distance between two worker placement tiles as part of your analysis of the best move. Very cool and simple to understand. During randomized setup, you arrange the different actions around the board as well, which scrambles your distance math for the next time you play. Awesome! 

Walking around the island for fun and profit!

It also features a mechanic I very much like from a bunch of games where players compete in small contests, where the first player to do a thing gets the most reward (in this case directly VPs), the second player gets the second most and so on. It’s nice for players to be able to experience little “victories” throughout the game whether or not they win the overall game in the end. (I’ve seen this also in Troyes with the event cards and Dungeon Petz with the pet judging contests, among perhaps others).

I also like the way that each action is assigned random costs (and a random number of purchasing opportunities each round) as a nice form of inter-game ambiguity!

Something I’m NOT so fond of is the way the “wild” resource system (fruit) works. You can choose to use fruit to pay a cost, but not mixed with the original resource cost. This does lead to some interesting decision making, but it’s quite fiddly and in my opinion too easy to end up in a situation where you feel like you should be able to take an action, but don’t have the right MIX of resources. I prefer when wild resources help to “grease the wheels” and allow you to massage your plays to be more optimal while circumventing upfront calculation. In this more restrictive system, you really should be calculating more upfront to avoid messing yourself up.

Overall it has some cool ideas and I expect I’ll be playing it again soon! It’s super convenient to play it on BoardGameArena, which helps!

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