English language edition
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The south sea, AD 1777! Three years after James Cook visited the islands, the islands are embroiled in a contest for possession of legendary shrunken heads. The players' only desire is to acquire these "head attractions" for shipment to museums in Europe. Although the islanders are very interested in trading their treasures with the European for the glass beads they offer, their traditions require that such exchanges be done during a special KAWA ritual.
Thus, the players must submit to this ritual by playing against each other with their beads for the prized shrunken heads. The winner will leave the island with the treasure. The losers may remain to provide further treasures...
I like this game. I've played the 2 player version and I've played with 4 players and I definitely feel that the 4 player game was much more interesting. I don't think the game is intended for 2 players and that proved obvious.
There are several gems that come in four colors. Each players takes the same number of gems and one set of gems is left in the middle of the table (the supply). Four goal cards are randomly shown and these determine what you are trying to accomplish (for example, get the most red gems). If there is a tie for the first goal, then the second goal card is used as the tie-breaker and so on.
Four condition cards and four effect cards are then placed. The
first condition leads to the first effect. A few examples are...
- player with the most red and green gems gets 1 yellow gem
- player with the fewest blue gems gets half of the blue gems from the middle
- player with the most gems gets to keep their bid
- player with the most yellow gems gets swap to goal cards
There will be three rounds of bidding using these cards. Each player selects 1-4 gems and puts them in their fist out in front. Everyone shows what they have and then the conditions are evaluated and the effects are played out. The bid that you made then goes into the supply in the middle of the table. After three rounds of bidding with these same cards, everyone shows how many total gems they have and the winner is determined by the goal cards.
In a four player game, the player taking 1st gets 3 shrunken heads, 2nd gets 2 shrunken heads and 3rd gets 1 shrunken head. After four bidding sessions where shrunken heads are distributed, the winner is the player with the most shrunken heads.
The meaning of the cards takes a bit to get used to and the strategy takes at least one practice round to see what is going on. Then, things get crazy and the wild blind bidding game begins.
Again, I liked the game but I think it will really appeal most to people who want to think through a very odd logic puzzle that can easily get turned on its head. Plus the fact that you need to do some psychological guesswork to try and figure out what your opponents will do can make this a turnoff for more casual gamers. I thought it could be good for casual gamers though too because it evens the playing field with some of the unusual things that can happen in a game.
I say it's a good game that needs to be played with the right crowd.