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Games you might have missed: Polynesia

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Welcome to Part 2 of my new weekly blog post series called “Games you might have missed”. In this blog posts, I take a look at games that have been released in the last two or three months but have somehow fallen through the cracks. This time I’m looking at Polynesia, a new game from Peer Sylvester.

Polynesia Box

The frequent tremors, the looming clouds over the crater, and the ever-increasing smell of sulfur make it clear that it is time to escape. Direct your tribe through the waters of the Pacific in search of a new home, safe from the impending eruption of the volcano. Explore new sea routes that lead to unvisited islands, collect resources on those islands to offer to other tribes in exchange for their knowledge, and continue sailing in search of a safe place — all this being done to save as many of your tribe members as possible and lead them to new lands where they can prosper. The most successful individual through this difficult mission will be appointed the supreme chief of the Polynesian tribal group.

In Polynesia, players must save their tribe members from the dangers of the volcano by taking them to the islands that will give them the most points. At the same time, players must try to reach the objectives set by the tide cards, which will vary from one game to another. To succeed, players must collect resources in the form of fish and shells that will allow them to explore new sea routes, use the routes of other players, and sail from one island to another.

Polynesia is played in rounds, and each round is divided into two phases. In the action phase, each player has three turns in which they can perform one of three actions: sail, explore, or populate and fish. In the maintenance phase, the volcano activity is checked for activity, and each player can collect resources depending on the islands where they have tribe members.

(Source: BGG description)

Polynesia is a Network and Route Building game for 2-4 players (according to BGG it works best with 4 players) recommended from 12 years and older. The average playing time is 60 to 75 minutes. The complexity level is rated at 2.27 which makes it a medium-lightweight game. Fans of the game also like games like Bonfire, Red Cathedral, Monasterium, London or Bruxelles 1897. And one of the written reviews on BGG states that Polynesia is the perfect game “when the right game to play is something like Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride, but you can’t face playing those warhorses again.”

The rules for the game are available on BGG and thanks to an Unboxing video from The Dice Tower we can also have a closer look at the game components:

So all in all this game makes a very good impression. So why is it not more popular/better known?

Peer released two other games last autumn: The King is Dead (2nd Edition) and Village Green. Both games made a much bigger splash in the UK, which could be because of the publisher (King is Dead/Village Green are both from UK publisher Osprey Games, Polynesia from smaller Spanish publisher Ludonova), but I think it is mainly due to the lack of conventions this autumn. Essen is normally the place to play all these shiny new games and a chance for publishers to get the attention of board game fans. Without Essen this year, there was not much hype around new games if they didn’t get a glowing review from one of the leading board game Youtuber.

But there is good news: when the game was released back in November, it was very quiet on BGG with only a handful of ratings available. If we take a look at the BGG page now, we can see that the number of ratings is steadily going up with 127 at the number with an average rating of 7.4

Game Details
NamePolynesia (2020)
ComplexityMedium Light [2.33]
BGG Rank3947 [6.79]
Player Count (Recommended)2-4 (3-4)

And in the last two month the BGG Rank has gone up from 9082 (15th November) to 5901 today:

BGG Rank of Polynesia in the last two months

So it seems that people who are owning/playing the game are enjoying it and that the game slowly but surely gets more popular.

I haven’t played the game yet, but based on the artwork and the track record of the designer I’m really tempted to give this a go as soon as we are allowed to have Game Nights at the shop again or even try it at home with the family when I don’t want to play Ticket to Ride again.