Typically, a board game that features hexes will be oriented towards older, more experienced tabletop gamers. Tiki Island by Great Wight Games is a light strategy game for 2-6 players that can be completed in 30-60 minutes.
You’ll be playing as someone trying to make their way between a group of islands that are facing numerous hazards. Thematically, the game is based on elements of island native culture where migrating from island to island was a fact of life. Ancient (and modern!) Pacific Islanders were expert watermen and travelled between various islands in canoes, rafts, and boats. They often sought better resources or to escape disaster.
Six islands surround a body of water in the center of the game board. Each of the 2-6 players will start on one of these islands. Their goal is to move across the water to the opposite side of the map from where they started. Players accomplish this by placing tokens representing islands and then moving their Islander meeples across these islands.
Setup is fairly easy. Players pick a color and place their three Islanders on one of four starting hexes. In addition, players have a Tiki that occupies one of the islands. Islanders can not share hexes with one another, but they can share a hex with their Tiki. The Tiki acts as a sort of ward or buffing mechanic and interacts with the game board in various ways. For example, when you’re building islands, you have to do it within a certain radius of your Tiki. Furthermore, the island your Tiki is on is protected from various negative effects; this ensures that you will have at least one safe harbor out in the wide ocean.
There is a tiny variation in the first turn depending on the number of players. Games of 2-3 players are completely standard. In 4-6 player games, the players who are further along in the turn order will get bonus Runes or actions in order to balance out their later start. This is a mechanic that I think does a good job of balancing out the advantage that starting players tend to get in multiplayer games.
A turn in Tiki Island starts with players deciding if they’d like to put a Permanent Rune into a play. While most Runes are played once and then discarded, a Permanent Rune tends to stay in the game for multiple turns. Next, players roll a six-sided die and refer to the Reference Card. They can, if they choose, take one of six Advanced Actions based on the number their die landed on. Advanced Actions are things such as 4 moves (as opposed to 3 moves in the Basic Action). Alternatively, they can choose to either make 3 Moves, Build 1 Island, or Draw 1 Rune. In addition to these Actions, players can elect to play Runes (save for those they drew on the same turn).
As the game progresses, players will build islands and move their Islanders and Tiki across them. Normally, you cannot move through an Island of a different color or pass through a neutral Island if its occupied by another Islander. However, the special condition “Soar” allows you to ignore these restrictions and move across any Island regardless of its color or what is on it so long as your tokens finish their movement on a legal position.
Islands will be destroyed and Islanders will be zapped back to their starting point. They will only be safe once they’ve reached the other side of the map. The first person to move all three of their meeples to the opposite side of the board wins the game!
A game of Tiki Island should take about 30-60 minutes to play to completion. The rules are easy enough to understand and the rulebook is pretty concise if you’re lost. The game’s theme is also quite family friendly overall, so you can sit down and play it with your kids if you’re looking for a family activity.
As for the campaign itself, a $40 pledge will net you a copy of the game, a Kickstarter-exclusive promotional card, an Ancients badge, and all unlocked Stretch Goals. Shipping is free anywhere in the United States, and international shipping costs an additional $7. There were also limited $25, $30, and $35 early bird pledges that provided the same thing for a better price but unfortunately they’re all sold out.
If you’re feeling generous, a $150 pledge will get you everything at the $35 tier along with design input on a Rune to be placed in the game. If you have a spare $2,000 laying about, you’ll get a custom card put into the game, a hand-delivered copy of the game, dinner with the developers, and a personal play session. Both of these higher-end tiers will also be limited in number.
The Stretch Goals are relatively straightforward. A new Kickstarter-exclusive Rune will go into the game for every $5,000 over their goal and $35,000 will put “Iron Press” tokens into the game. No further Stretch Goals are indicated but there’s room for them to pop up as the campaign progresses.
Tiki Island seems to be a game that makes for a nice middle road between complexity and simplicity. If Tiki Island sounds like the sort of game you’d be interested in playing, you can check out the Kickstarter campaign here. At the time of writing, this campaign is a bit over $4,000 of its $15,000 goal and will end on September 29, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
What do you think of Tiki Island? Do you think it would be a fun game to play with your friends and family? What do you think of the aesthetic choices and theme? Let us know in the comments below!