Fabrice Besson


No. of Players:
3 - 5

G@mebox Star



A publisher which is quite famous for its fabulous looking games is MATAGOT from France, and as it seems this year they have outdone themselves. Before the SPIEL 08 images of their new game Giants were circulated only very sparingly, and after seeing the teaser on their website and learning that the game actually would be about the huge stone statues (Moai) of the Easter Islands, I was rather eager to see this game.

And indeed, upon setting my eyes upon this game I was rather impressed of the level of graphical perfection which had been reached. Very nice figures of the Moai (and their Pukao hats), three different kinds of tribal figures for each of the five tribes (players), and a stunningly beautiful gameboard. This game is setting a standard which can hardly be improved upon, and for me it is definitely the most beautiful game of the convention.

The game itself is about the erection of the Moai along the outer coast of the island. The figures all are produced in a quarry which is situated far in the western half of the island, whereas their final positions are marked hexagonal squares all along the coast. The more remote a building site is from a quarry, the more victory points a player will score if he succeeds in erecting a Moai there, and these victory points actually will be multiplied by two or three if the player does not build a small Moai but a medium sized or a large one. But how does the who process work?

The tribe of each player has a Chief, a Shaman and normal tribe members (I will term them Workers). At the beginning of a round the players roll a hand of dice (their number corresponding to the number of players), and these dice determine which kinds of Moai will be available for the round. The players then take a number of workers ranging from one to three into their hand and reveal them simultaneously. The size of a players workforce determines the size of the Moai a player can build, but the order in which the players may chose is depending on the current start player and on the fact whether the players have bet tribal tokens as well. A player who has bet tribal tokens may chose first, and then the rest of the players may chose in playing order, beginning with the start player. This procedure may result in the fact that some players may not be able to take a Moai this round because the cheaper smaller Moai might have been taken by earlier players so that the bigger Moai possibly could not be afforded. All workers and tribal tokens used in this auction will remain in front of a player's viewscreen so that the player is not allowed to use them for anything else during the rest of the turn, but he will get all of them back when the turn is over.

The auction is followed by the placement phase in which the players in turn either place one of their figures or put another tribal token in front of their screen in order to indicate that they want to skip placement to the next player. This might be useful to get a more developed situation on the gameboard so that placement of a figure can be calculated better. Also, a player who skips receives a Rune tablet.

The Moai now will need to be transported from the quarry to their final positions, and the number of workers which needs to be present in each space to ensure that the Moai can be moved forwards depends on the size of the Moai. So, a small Moai only needs one worker, whereas a big Moai needs three workers to be moved. Here the workers of all players are cooperating, so that three workers from different players actually are enough that is needed to move a fourth player's Moai. However, each worker how has been used on the transport route of a Moai will bring its player a victory point. The Ciefs of the tribes are very strong, and they actually can do the work of three men. Thus, during the placement of the figures routed for the Moai will be developed, and a Moai then may be moved as far as there are enough workers to move him. All the owner of a Moai needs is one of his own figures on the space before the desired building site. This allows him to stand up the Moai on the desired site, marking it with a face-down tile depicting his tribe symbol.

However, the whole process of building and transporting firsts needs to receive a higher number of workers before larger distances can be bridged. Here the players have to build up a force of workers, since each player only possesses one worker at the beginning of the game. The Shaman of a tribe may be used to organise new workers, and so a player receive a new worker for his force when he puts his Shaman into the village. Actually, the village is not the only place where the Shaman can be placed, and so he may also be used in the workshop to produce an additional tribal token, in the forest to get some trees felled, or at another quarry at the eastern half of the island where he produces a hat for one of the Moai. Furthermore, the Shaman also may be sent to a building site, allowing a player ro reserve the site for one of his Moai in the future. The Chief actually may also function as a Shaman, but to make use of one of the Shaman's actions with the Chief the player must additionally discard two Rune tablets.

The trees which a player acquires actually can be placed together with a worker, and each tree in a space actually reduces the number of workers needed to transport a Moai by one (moving the heavy stone by rolling the trees). However, this benefit is only temporary, and the trees will be removed after the round. The hats on the other hand need to be transported with workers just like the Moai, but only one worker is needed in each space to transport a hat. If a Moai receives a hat the player who has built that Moai will receive additional victory points at the end of the game, and once again the number of victory points depends on the distance between the quarry for the hats and the final position of the Moai.

The game ends when a player has placed his fifth Moai (in a five-player-game), and then the tokens will be revealed which show who had placed which Moai. The victory points will be added up and the player with most points has won the game.

I had playtested Giants together with Chris Leonhard (author of 1960: The Making of the President) at the SPIEL 08 convention, and after the game we both agreed that the game functions rather well. For me, it is hard to remember any games from the last few years which actually had a story line which was followed by the rules to such a high degree. The different actions available to the players correspond rather well with the general background of the erection of the Moai, and this makes of Giants an impressively whole game. At the beginning most of the players naturally will focus on building up their workforce, but the way in which they might plan to win the game will differ by some degrees as the game progresses. So, some players might try to build some cheap Moai rather soon in order to go for valuable hats, whereas others might try to get their Moai moved to far-away places. This brings up competition and makes the players look for upcoming opportunities, and keeps the game rather entertaining for the whole playing time.

Even small components like the symbolic overview tables behind the player screens are well designed and an invaluable assistance to novice players, and coupled with the great artwork and the beautiful playing pieces Giants makes up a rather unique, extraordinary game which can be enjoyed by families and hobbyists alike.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany