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Anselm and Helge Ostertag released Kaivai through their company Pfifficus Spiele in 2005 to generally good remarks – except for the size of the box that the game came in. Apparently gamers would tuck a blanket inside, then tape the box closed with them inside in order to save money getting it home.
Well, those days are now over as the Ostertags have released a new, smaller version of Kaivai that will be available at Spiel 2010 in addition to being currently available on the publisher's website. Here's a game description for those coming to the title for the first time:
More than a thousand years ago the Polynesians began to colonize the Pacific Ocean. Kaivai (Water Eater) was the name they gave to the navigators who guided them across huge tracts of empty sea. The navigators' secret wisdom was based on observing natural phenomena, from the stars to the shape of the crest of a wave. It was accumulated over centuries and passed down orally. Learning the skill of reading the ocean was reserved for only the most worthy kin.
In the scattered world of Polynesian islands, the players take part in exploration to discover new homelands for their people. Fish must be caught to exchange for shell-money or glory. Shell-money is used to pay for the building of huts on the island-villages, to gain more glory at the end of the game. Shell-money decreases in value each round, so wealth is short-lived and money should be invested as quickly as possible. Only the player who skilfully navigates through the dynamically growing islands, who is clever in managing fluctuating resources and who knows how to use the favour of the fisherman’s god, will gain enough glory to be initiated into the secret wisdom of the Kaivai.
Description written by W. Eric Martin and used with permission of BoardgameNews.com