Stefan Feld is an excellent game designer and once again he has come up with a very playable, highly enjoyable challenging resource collection game that uses dice in a different manner to
what would usually be considered as normal.
BORA BORA, from ALEA/RAVENSBURGER, is for 2-4 players, aged 12+, and takes up to 2 hours to play with a full compliment of players. Unlike many games that give an age range for players,
Bora Bora really is for the older, near-teen and above, age group. It is not complicated, neither is it complex, but it does require planning and thought not usually associated with younger kids.
(Please note I did say "not usually"). It is also not a family game, at least not in the general perception of family games - obviously a family of gamers would be the exception - as there is only a
little bit of luck involved (dice rolling always produces the random luck element) - the rest is tactical and strategic decision making.
At first glance the player boards look very busy or fussy. Only some of the spaces on these boards can receive counters, the others are summaries and information spaces. Getting to know your board is
the quickest way to success. With this type of game, one where you are collecting resources - in this case resources are mainly gods and people - I always, at least for the first game, merrily collect as I
am able to, taking not enough notice of what I should be collecting. After the first game, and this is where I am hoping to save you some time, you will realise that there is a knack to collecting resources.
Simply collecting tiles "because you can" is the best way to get yourself into an impossible (as in unwinnable) situation. You need to ensure that you get the correct tiles for both the Men and the Women
actions and you really need to work the god deck, as each card (by colour) has a specific action.
You must also realise that there are things that if you don't do each turn will cost you in VPs when the final scoring is determined. These incluse collecting Jewellery and completing Tasks. When choosing
your Tasks try to select those that you can complete because as you have to finish one, and one only, per turn it is best to have them lined up rather than be hoping that the required resources come along in
time. Not finishing all your tasks can cost you the game.
The thing that most gamers will like about BORA BORA is that there are always options and some of these are frustrating. Depending on the number of players a set number of Action Tiles are laid face up on
the table. Then the players simultaneously roll their three dice. The player whose turn it is places one of their dice on one of the Actions and completes that action. For another player to perform the same Action
they have to place one of their dice on that Action card that has a lower value than the lowest valued die already on it; there is an exception - using a Blue god card. As I said earlier, each god card has a specific
action associated to it. On the subject of gods each player begins the game with a god tile and can gain others during play, each being valuable for either its VP status at the end of play or its use value as a resource
Like most games where money isn't involved the winner is the player who amasses the most Victory Points. As I said there are many options for players on their turns and naturally VPs can be earned immediately by
some of those options or built towards by others. You also get bonuses for Fire, collecting shells, visiting the Temple and Fishing, but I will state one thing about Bora Bora that I have never said about any other game
I have played, ever, and that is it is the first (and only) game I know of where you get bonuses for having men with tattoos.
The are different strategies for playing Bora Bora amongst which are collecting only a minimum of Man, Woman, tiles and relying on the Temple and the islands - the board looks like a series of islands. Another is to
plan on using all of your dice tiles by filling the central resource section whilst also collecting Jewellery and always ensuring you don't miss out on completing your Tasks.
It's good to know that the game runs smoothly, and that it is interesting, has an unusual theme augmented by good artwork and solid components made to last, but it is also very good to know that the rules are written so
clearly that you can set up and play with just one read through which is quite unusual for any boardgame translated into English from its original German language. Speaking of the rules the booklet is full colour on quality
glossy paper, centre stapled to make 6 pages, with quick-play notes in sidebar columns, separated by a different shade of teal. There are three rules booklets that come with the English edition of the game (I say English
edition because the text on the box is in English) game, these being the English rules plus the German and French versions.
I have only one negative comment about Bora Bora, and that is I wish it was for 3-5 players instead of 2-4. That's it, I cannot think of anything more to say except it's a thoroughly good games-players game.