Kamehameha’s War of Unification
Review by David Lent
Hawaii, 1795 is a 2-player minigame by Joseph Miranda. It covers the late 18th century campaign by Kamehameha to unify all the Hawaiian Islands under his command. He has his work cut out, because the chiefs of Oahu and Maui have allied to resist him. The real wild card is the island of Kauai, who is neutral but can come into play under either side’s command. There is also the English ally John Young who is the leader of Kamehameha’s musketeers.
Joseph Miranda has created many solitaire minigames for Decision Games. Hawaii 1795’s rules have many similarities to his solitaire games and anybody who has played them will be able to quickly learn this game’s rules. If you’ve played solitaire games like Long Range Desert Group or Vikings Scourge of the North and wondered what a 2-player game with similar rules would be like; here it is.
The components for Hawaii, 1795 consist of an 11×17 map of Hawaii, 40 counters, 18 cards and a rulebook. All of the components are more than good enough quality, considering this is game costs less than $15.00
The rulebook is only 4-pages long and is easy to understand. I did have to look at the errata to clarify one rule though. Many of the previous minigames from Decision Games had a main rulebook and a scenario rulebook. Decision Games’ choice of using just a single rulebook without a second scenario rulebook in this game seems to be a good choice, since no other games use this exact same ruleset.
Hawaii’s counters represent units, cannon, canoes, leaders and earthworks. The units and leaders just have combat strength (number of dice to roll in combat), elite status (represented with a + sign) and type on them. Elite units help with initiative (battlefield advantage) and never panic. Pike units fight normally, but cancel one panic result per round. Musket and cannon units fight before melee units, since they have ranged weapons. Canoes do not fight, but may each carry 2 units plus one leader.
The 18 cards are in 2 different colors (9 for each player). They have special instructions for the phasing player’s turn, the number of units recruited and the number of fleets that can move. The most important cards are the ones that have you roll to see what side Kauai joins.
The map looks good and has sea spaces, land spaces, recruit boxes, battle map, 11-month turn track, terrain key and a combat results table. The battle map is the only part that needs explanation. It has two sections that consist of a land battle section and a sea battle section. The land battle section has a beach, island and cliff hex. The attacking force starts on the beach and the defenders are on the inland hex. If all defending units that are left are panicked, then the defenders retreat to the cliffs and the attackers advance inland. They battle again and if all defending units become panicked, they cannot retreat and are instead eliminated.
There are two separate campaigns in this game. They are the long campaign and the short campaign. The long campaign lasts for 11 turns/months and each player starts with cards #1 and #2 on the top of their decks. These cards recruit pikes, cannons and 2 extra warrior units. The short campaign is 9 months long and both sides start the game with their pike, cannon and extra 2 warrior units. I found that the game plays fast regardless of which scenario you choose.
Hawaii, 1795 has two types of victory: occupation and sudden death victories. The Kamehameha player wins an occupation victory if at the start of any turn, he occupies his two orange fortress starting spaces in Kona and Hilo and any four of the five blue and yellow spaces. He can also win a sudden death victory if both allied chiefs Kalani and Kaiana are killed. The allied player wins an occupation victory if he controls two of the blue land spaces and one of the green fort spaces on Hawaii. He can win a sudden death victory if he eliminates Kamehameha.
Sequence of Play:
1) Play the top card of your deck and implement its instructions
2) Recruit the forces called for on the card
3) Move forces. Since it’s one month turns, canoes may move anywhere on the map
4) Battle phase
Allied Chiefs Turn
Do steps 1 to 4 using your own deck
Battles occur during the battle phase if your units are attempting to enter a space occupied by the enemy. If you are about to invade an island from one or more of your canoes, the defender can choose to attempt a sea battle. He rolls a dice and on a 1-3 he can row his canoes with units out to engage in a sea battle. Otherwise, the canoes land and a land battle is fought.
The battle procedure begins by determining which side has initiative. Both players roll a dice and the one with the most elite units adds +1 to his die roll. The winner has initiative. He moves his units to the beach hex on the battle map and lines them up in any order. He then picks a unit that hasn’t fought yet this round and rolls a number of dice equal to it’s combat strength and consults the combat results table. If there are any panic or eliminated results, the defender picks one of his units to apply it to. However, elite units or units in forts or earthworks never panic. In addition, pike units cancel one panic per round. The defender then attacks with one of his units that have not attacked yet this round. Eliminated or panicked units may not attack even if they haven’t fought yet. Initiative is very important! This continues until all surviving units have attacked. If the defender has only panicked units, they retreat to the cliffs and the attacker advances inland and all units are no longer panicked. They fight again and if all the defending units become panicked they are eliminated. If, at any time all the attackers become panicked, they jump back in their canoes and flee.
Sea battles are fought basically the same, but if one side has only panicked units they retreat to a friendly space and lose half their canoes rounded up.
The initial game setup has some empty blue land spaces and it is very tempting for the Kamehameha player to seize those early on. I found that to be a mistake. It’s important for the Kamehameha player to wait until Kauai becomes an ally before attacking. Kamehameha is at a disadvantage early on, because he cannot completely abandon either of his forts or the other player can seize them and win the game. Any early attack he does, will have to leave units behind and his attacking force will be weak. Conversely, if the allied chiefs attack early with too weak a force, they may weaken themselves and not have enough units to guard their islands. Thus, they may want to wait until Kauai is their ally before campaigning. However, both sides have cards that can cause Kauai to switch sides, so you can lose your important ally after just a turn or two.
I really enjoyed Hawaii, 1795 and found it really easy to learn since it uses many of the same mechanics as some of my favorite solitaire games. In addition, I found the new battle map to be a real enhancement to the old battle method. I’m an impatient wargamer and tend to immediately go on the offensive, but this game taught me patience since it’s unwise to attack before you have Kauai on your side. Best of all, this game only cost $14.95 and it’s hard to find a better bargain in today’s market.
Buy your own copy here.
View the components in the unboxing video below: