Tahiti is a game by David E. Whitcher, published by Minion Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be harvesting crops from surrounding islands and bringing them back to their home island for victory points. They will gain bonus points for bringing back their family’s favorites. The player that is best able to maneuver their canoe around the islands and harvest the most points will be declared the winner.
To start, the Home island will be placed in the center of the table. Island and water tiles are placed around the home island depending on the number of players. For specific instructions on the setup, please see the rulebook. The Haumea pawn is placed on the home island and all goods spaces are filled with the appropriately colored cubes. All the island tiles are shuffled and placed face up in two equal sized stacks. All Depletion tokens are placed face down and mixed up. Each player then takes a canoe of their chosen color and takes the matching player board. Canoes are placed on the home island. The favorite food tiles are shuffled and each player is given one randomly. Depending on the number of players, you will subtract a certain amount of cubes from the game. If there are 4 players though, all cubes are used. The rest of the cubes are placed in the bag and mixed up. Play now begins.
Each round of play has 4 phases; exploration phase, Haumea’s bounty phase, action phase and depletion phase. The first phase is the exploration phase. On this phase, the player will move the Haumea token towards the edge of the game board. They will then add 1 tile to the game board by drawing from one of the two stacks of tiles. It is then placed adjacent to the tile with the Haumea token and must be adjacent to to other tiles already out on the board. When the last tile is placed on the board, there will be no more exploration phases. This particular phase will be skipped the rest of the game.
The next phase is Haumea’s bounty phase. In this phase, if Haumea is still on the board, you will draw 3 cubes from the bag. If the token has been removed from the game, you will only draw 2. Any matching spaces that are open and without a Depletion token on them can have a matching colored cube placed on it. Any cubes that do not match any goods space are returned to the bag.
The third phase is the action phase. The amount of actions available to a player are controlled by the canoe display on the player board. Each rower space that is not covered with a goods cube allows the player to take an action. As goods are loaded and unloaded, the number or rowers will change and this will reduce or increase the number of actions that the player may take. Any time that the number of rowers is less than or equal to the number of actions that have been taken, the player must stop taking actions and play then goes to the next phase.
In this phase, there are four actions to choose from; paddle your canoe, harvest goods, go fishing and deliver goods. For 1 action a player can move their canoe to any adjacent tile. Every time a canoe crosses over a reef, 1 goods cube must be drawn from the bag. If the color matches one that the player has loaded in their canoe, that cube is lost and must be placed back into the bag. For 1 action a player can harvest 1 goods cube from the island tile that their canoe is on. This cube is placed on the canoe display on the player board. The only rules to this are that there may never be more than 5 cubes in a canoe at a time, the player may load as many cubes of one color as they like as long as there are no other cubes in the canoe, and if there are more than one color of cube in the canoe, they may only load one cube of each color. Another action that can be taken for 1 action is to go fishing. This can be done on any island except the home island. To do this, a player will draw 2 goods cubes from the bag. If there is a white fish cube drawn, it is added to the canoe. Any non fish cubes can be held onto if the next action that a player takes is a fishing action. Then all the non fish cubes are placed back in the bag at that time. This gives additional opportunities to actually get a white cube. Once the Haumea token is gone from the game, islands with depletion tokens on them that show fish allow the player to draw 3 cubes instead of 2. The last action that can be taken for 1 action is to deliver goods. While at the home island, all the goods that a player has collected can be unloaded from the canoe display and placed on the matching color spaces on the harvest chart, also on the player board. Only 9 goods cubes of a particular color may be placed on the chart.
The fourth and final phase is the depletion phase. This phase is skipped as long as the Haumea token is still in play. Once it is gone, the islands will begin to lose crops. Any islands without cubes on them will receive a random depletion token, at a rate of one island per turn as chosen by the player. Islands with these tokens on them will not produces goods for the rest of the game. Once this phase is over, the player’s turn is over. Play then shifts to the left. This all continues until there are only 4 island tiles not marked with depletion tokens. At the end of that particular round, the game is over. Goods cubes in a player’s canoe display are moved to their harvest chart. Scoring then takes place.
Scoring is based on three things; goods, favorites and variety. Goods are scored by looking at the chart on the player board. The first empty space to the right of a cube in each row is how many points that that row of goods is worth. Favorites score bonus points if that player collected the most goods of that particular type as shown by their tile. Variety points are scored by looking at the chart on the player board. A player scores points based on how many sets of all goods have been collected. Points are scored by looking at the number at the top of the completed column. The player with the most points at the end of scoring will be the winner.
This games has lots of really nice components. The goods cubes, canoes and Haumea token are all brightly painted wood. They look really nice and are very sturdy. I love how the canoe pieces actually look like canoes. Very nicely done. The island tiles, water tiles, favorite crop tiles, depletion tokens and player board are all made of thick sturdy cardboard. The artwork is really nice, especially on the player boards and depletion tokens. The island tiles are pretty basic looking but convey the whole island theme really well. Each game will have a unique drawstring bag to hold the cubes in. So far, I haven’t seen two of the same style bag yet. These bags have a real Hawaiian feel to them that I really like. Yet another really nice touch. I like everything here.
9 out of 10
The rulebook is very nicely done. Everything here is really easy to read and understand. There are lots of great pictures for setup and for explaining certain things on the player boards. There are lots of examples of gameplay as well as several really great pictures. The theme really feels a part of the rulebook. This is nice as lots of time this piece of the game is overlooked in that aspect. Once read, I don’t really see much reason to return to the rules for anything, except maybe setup for different amounts of players. Very nicely done.
9 out of 10
This game is a masterpiece of design. I love every aspect of it. The pick up and deliver mechanic has been made new and fresh with the use of goods vs. rowers spaces in the canoe display. I love the way that you have to balance everything in your canoe so that you can get the most things done on your turn. If you add too many goods, you can move very fast. However if you have no goods you can speed around the board. You just won’t collect any points with an empty canoe. I really like the family favorite tiles. This makes it where you actually have a couple of goods that you will really want to try to get the most of to collect those extra points at the end of the game. I realize that everything comes down to scoring victory points which is kinda boring, but this game makes it where you’re not really thinking about that. You will really get immersed into gathering goods to bring back to your family. Everything here is really smooth and transitions well with any amount of players. I really like it.
9 out of 10
Tahiti is a light game of pick up and deliver with an island theme. Everything feels great about this game. It looks really nice and plays really well. Play time is around an hour. There is no real lag time or massive amounts of down time while playing. Fans of games like Cinque Terre and Burger Joint should really like this game. I really enjoyed the theme on this one. It definitely does not feel just painted on. There’s lots of fun to be had with this game. I highly recommend it and will always be up to play this one. There’s nothing too difficult to understand with this game, but I feel like you probably need to have a basic understanding of math, addition and subtraction. That will help with keeping track of the amount of actions available each turn, as these numbers will always be changing. Other than that, I’d say this game is great for anyone. Pick up a copy and enjoy it today. Like Agent Coulson from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would say, “Tahiti, it’s a Magical Place.”
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Minion Games at their site.