Friedemann Friese

2F SPIELE 2006




G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game :

Fiji is a game that is settled on the lonely island Fiji some centuries ago, when there lived cannibals somewhere in the ocean. James Cook found this island in 1774 and it became quite famous for his shrinkheads. Now, three years later in 1777, there is an increasing demand for these shrinkheads and so a lot of adventurers went on a journey to Fiji to get some. Unfortunately, the original inhabitants of Fiji had no ambition to give the shrinktheads away and put the cost very high. Although they appreciated the glass pearls from the visitors very much, they couldn't be persuaded to sell their valuables without inviting the visitors to one of their famous "meals". Only one visitor with the most pearls would have the chance to leave the island after this delicious meal with the valuable shrinkheads, all others would find their end in the cooking pot and eventually become s shrinkhead themselves.

The aim of the game is quite simple: to be the one who survives. And so a wild competition for the glass pearls breaks out. The game lasts 4 turns with 5 phases each. At the end of each turn the player who fulfils the requirements best, gets a specific number of shrinkheads. But back to the beginning…

In the first phase each player gets 5 green, 4 red, 3 yellow and 2 blue glass pearls. Then the conditions for exchanging the glass pearls are specified. After this the victory conditions for this turn are drawn and then a phase of changing and betting begins. Finally, in the fifth phase, the shrinkheads are divided and the next turn begins. With this basic structure of a turn laid out, let us now discuss the details:

The second phase begins by placing four cards - called the condition cards -face up in the middle of the table. Next to each of these cards another card from the so called consequence cards stack is placed, so that four changing conditions are generated. The fist card shows either one or two hands with a number of coloured glass pearls. With a one hand card the player with the fewest number of the indicated glass pearls wins the exchange condition, with two hands the player with the most pearls. So for e.g. a one hand card with a yellow and red pearl on it, the player with the fewest yellow and red pearls in his hand wins the condition and must then fulfil the consequence card.


After determining these changing conditions, the victory conditions for the turn are drawn. Four cards, each representing one of the colours of the pearls, are mixed up and placed face up on the top of the table. It is very important not to turn the cards or to change the order, because this would change the victory conditions significantly. Each card has a big and a small pearl on it. Depending on which of these pearls is on the bottom of the card, the victory condition is either to have the most or to have the fewest of the pearls of this colour at the end of the turn. The player who fulfils the condition of the first card on the table (the one which is on the left edge) wins the turn. Only if there is a draw the second victory condition (or the third and fourth) has a relevance to find the winner of the turn.

How a player places his bet and wins a changing condition is determined in the fourth round. Each player secretly takes one to four of his pearls in his hand. At a command the players simultaneously show their bet for all four faced-up changing conditions on the table. Because consequences must be fulfilled, it is very hard to decide which bet to place. There is always a chance to get a positive consequence, e.g. taking four yellow pearls that are important for the victory condition number two, and a negative consequence at the same time, e.g. getting two blue pearls, while the victory condition one is to have the fewest of the blue pearls. So it is always a tricky and sometimes not fully logical decision to find the right bet. The more players are involved, all the more luck becomes a major factor in the game, because it is nearly impossible to consider all possible bets of the others in all of the four changing conditions.

The shrinkheads for the turn are divided in the last phase. The player who fulfils the victory conditions best, gets one shrinkhead less than the number of players, the second one one less and so on. At the end of the fourth turn, the player with the most shrinkheads has won the game.

To be honest: After reading the rules first time, I was not really positive about the game. I could not imagine how these rather easy rules could guarantee an exciting game. But after a few rounds I had changed my mind. Fiji works very well. Even with the special two-player rules the game is well balanced and gives a lot of fun. The design is quite simple and functional but fits the rules well. And I must confess that the game stressed my logical comprehension highly. The difficult task is to consider the consequences of your bet in all four changing conditions simultaneously. What I liked for tactical purposes was the fact that you bet three times in a row with the same changing conditions. So you can conclude from the bets of your opponents what could be their next bet. For this reason, I also consider the minimum age requirement of ten years given on the box a bit low. Okay, the game can be played totally by chance due to the easy rules. But to consider all consequences of the four changing conditions a little more tactical understanding is definitely necessary. Nevertheless the game is a hot tip for everyone who likes easy rules and does not avoid logical and tactic thinking. And my wife was convinced of the game, too, so that it surly will be played often in the future.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]


Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany