With six of us this week, we decided to try the expanded version of Big Kini, one of the hits of this year’s Essen. Before starting, I warned everyone about the potential problem of too much exploration and suggested that we play two additional turns after the last atoll had been discovered. I think this helped because the last one was discovered on turn 8.
Big Kini is all about exploring islands in the Pacific and trying to place your men in the official posts on the island groups. Each turn players have two actions but choice is limited by what other people before you in turn order choose to do. In the 5/6 player game you get an additional choice of action, taking an action card, which can be saved for use later, effectively giving you a third action on a later turn. VPs are gained through the official posts you hold at the end of the game, collecting sets of three different goods, money left at game-end, and discovering during the game, new atolls. The game ends after 12 turns or once the last of the 18 atolls has been discovered, as modified by our rule tweak. Most VPs wins.
One thing we discovered to my and Mark K’s cost was that money can be very tight and the Income action gets chosen very early on. As a result, I spent three complete turns with no money, which limited my options very severely. The only one I could make decent use of was the Take Goods action, which did help me gain four sets of goods for scoring at the end and helped protect my Bay Barons in the Elections. Nige, however, had started well and was able to expand his population to good effect and take up positions on lots of islands. He didn’t use the Exploration action very much and was still able to win quite handily, which is good to see that Exploration can be beaten.
I am quite impressed with this one in that there is a fair bit to think about and do. Lack of income is very unforgiving in a six player game, maybe less so with three or four. However, the big problem we found was time. Admittedly, Nige did ponder his turns quite extensively at times but it still played way too long in our opinions. Four player games would be quite a bit shorter so this might be the sweet spot for Big Kini. Ratings suffered as a result of it taking about three hours to complete.