Spiel 2013 Preview: Mauna Kea

Posted by James (admin) on October 7th, 2013

Mauna Kea gameMauna Kea is a game about explorers fleeing from an erupting volcano.  This is not a co-operative game so players will be stepping over each other to reach the boats taking all the artifact they can with them.

During the game, players place tiles on the board to reveal the landscape.  Each tile without lava displays 4 smaller squares and these may contain artifacts (there are 17 white, 7 grey, and 1 black artifact in the game).  Some squares contain mountains which blocked movement.  Tiles with lava are added to the matching lava flow (there are 4 different flows) and an arrow shows the direction too.  Sometimes the lava flows split too.

The core game mechanic looks interesting as players have a few tiles in their hand.  On their turn, a player must play all of their tiles.  Tiles can either be placed on the board or they can be spent to earn movement points which the player then uses to move their explorers.  Each lava tiles shows on it how many movement points it is worth.  So, players will need to balance revealing new areas (thereby, hopefully, making a safe and beneficial pathway) and moving towards safety.  This definitely appeals to me as I do like multi-use items which the player can choose how to use them.

Moving through water areas costs more than moving through jungle areas.  Each explorer meeple can carry a maximum of 3 items at a time.  As soon as an explorer enters a boat, it launches – no waiting to help others in this game – however, even the room in some boats is limited as some can only hold 1 explorer plus 1 or 2 artifacts so some artifacts may have to be left behind too.

When the game ends, the player with the most points wins which are scored for explorers and the artifacts they escaped with. However, any boats used that have empty spaces for artifacts lose the player points; so, taking a boat that can carry 3 artifacts when you only have 1 artifact (assumedly because you like to put your feet up) will lose you 2 points

The advanced game (which sounds like where I’d start) adds cards too.  Some cards can be played for special abilities like to gain extra moves, to change the orientation of a tile, or to even get rescued by a helicopter (but you don’t score points for the explorer if you do that – just his artifacts).  Plus, some cards give tasks which score extra points if their tasks are fulfilled like having 2 explorers survive, rescuing 3 or more white artifacts, etc.

Mauna Kea looks like a relatively simple game but the game mechanic appears interesting and the interaction sounds good too.  The harsh rules that boats instantly sail and lava flows can remove explorers from the game if they flow onto them add to the appeal.

You can read the rules on Huch and Friend’s web site: bga.me/maunakea


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