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Hanga Roa. A chess variant inspired by the people of Easter Island. (9x9, Cells: 81) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Karen Robinson wrote on 2018-03-16 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This game has everything I love in a boardgame:  simple rules, interesting play, a fun theme, and unusual mechanics.   The stone throwing reminds me a bit of Amazons, but using the stones as roads is completely new to me.  There's a choice at every turn whether to try to build your own road, or destroy your opponent's road.  

There's also a bit of a hint of hnefatafl with the two goals of surrounding and immoblizing the other piece, and reaching the far side of the board.

I followed the link in the article and read about the history of the Moais, how the inhabitants descended into warfare as the island was deforested, and how they destroyed the Moais of other inhabitants as part of that warfare, which adds a darker tone to the theme.  

What a fascinating and unusual game.  I really love this one.  I wish it were more widely known.  
Would the designers mind if I listed it on boardgamegeek, with a link back to this page?  

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-05-16 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I did not expect it from reading the rules, but after trying it I think it is one of the best games in the data base.

George Duke wrote on 2010-06-11 UTC
Claudio, great! Since Roberto Lavieri of Venezuela is not active, if you care to please start to make as many S. American CVs as possible dedicated 1:1 per country theme-based when imagined. I recommend to follow the coast: in order Brazil (maybe Bizarro?), Uruguay, Argentina, Chile (use Hanga Ra variant), Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela (draw on Lavieri), Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, then Bolivia and Paraguay. Then Falklands (mimic a Gilman), then we go to Caribbean islands for more Latin American. Each should get own CV before domestic Brazilian states get theirs.

Claudio Martins Jaguaribe wrote on 2010-06-11 UTC

Did you noticed that it is unfair?

After all, I guess that I'm the only south-american in the CV?

Should I create ALL cv's or just Brazil's (by the way, I'm starting to think about it)?


George Duke wrote on 2010-06-11 UTC
Easter Island has CV now, so how about some follow-up CV for Chile? There is the sentence ''If an Ariki is surrounded totally [rodeado totalmente]....'' At first blush that would tend to answer my number (2) of yesterday's comment in neither Ariki nor Mato to'a being subject to capture at edge or corner by implication of the complete sentence. Dominguez Placencia and Schweitzer Kirsinger appear to have thought through most special cases and potential rules ambiguities. However on this matter, the same wording ''totally surrounded'' -- totalmente rodeado -- is used for Moais. Yet the intention must be for example Moais at a9 surrounded by enemy stones at a8, b8, and b9, is checkmated. So also Ariki can be captured at edge and corner despite interpretable ''totally surrounded.'' That still leaves the question whether Mato To'a is capturable, and either way would work and have own good logic. They offer flexibility in the array, being one possible CV for Chile at large. As Gilman does for domestic England, someone should make a special CV dedicated to each Latin American country. Great games. NextChess Track I has presently resolved into ordered 20 CVs when and if any outsiders ask what we stand for. The NextChess list referred to is led by Bifurcators #1, Great Shatranj #2, subject of course ongoing insertions shifting any the top 10-20 downwards or out the list. To be later related project is NextChess Track II in 2011, surely to include core Rococo, Philosopher's, Tetrahedral, and this Hanga Ra. No value judgements emphasized in the separation I Track, II Track, just practical matter the degree of dissimilarity to OrthoChess 64 squares. For instance, I prefer playing all the above Track IIs.

Neil Spargo wrote on 2010-06-08 UTC
Mr. Duke:

Thank you for the clarification :)


George Duke wrote on 2010-06-08 UTC
There are three piece-types and many stones. (1) When Ariki moves, he then throws two stones. It is advantageous, and Logs show two stones having been thrown most of the time so far. However, some crowded positions would allow only one stone thrown (at least the one Ariki just stepped from is always possible). And show cases where no stones thrown may help Ariki have pathway to escape later, for example, or that Mato to'a is going to attack. So Juan Kirsinger means that 2,1, or 0 stones at option of Neil Spargo's comment, ''up to two stones'' following move of any Ariki. Ariki must move first, no null move, then throw usually the two stones. (2) Ariki is captured by being surrounded by enemy stones and pieces. There is no displacement capture, except of stones by Mato to'a of either colour or by same Moais. Now Mato to'a away from edge cannot be surrounded by enemy pieces since there are only 7 pieces. Any adjacent foreign stones Mato to'a can just take. However, at corner or edge 3 or 5 pieces can enclose Mato to'a. Is Mato to'a captured there by surrounding, the way of Ariki who cannot eat stones? Or is Mato to'a invulnerable? (3) There is four-year-old question in comment unanswered yet, ''Can a Mato to'a capture the Moais?'' No. Mato to'a just participates in surrounding other pieces, including royal Moais, though plenty able to destroy stones one after another as Arikis throw them.

Neil Spargo wrote on 2010-06-08 UTC
One thing of note that is not directly stated, but I think is specified in context.  When the author writes:

'After carrying out its movement, the Ariki has the right to throw 2 stones in any direction (orthogonal or diagonal) and any number of squares.'  

I assume that it means two things:

-An ariki MUST move in order to throw stones.
-An ariki may move and only throw one or no stones, as specified by it having a 'right' to do so, not an obligation.

If the inventor or any players would like to clarify that this is correct or incorrect, please let me know.  I am playing a game and will assume these rules as such until told otherwise.  Thank you :)


George Duke wrote on 2008-06-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Once a year we remind about this game for what minimal Rules can produce, and Hanga Roa has relevance because of grouping with Latin producers Lavieri and Cetina today. Only three piece-types in Hanga Roa maximize strategy. Lavieri's Comment 20.January.2004 sums it up: ''I figure it is much more complex than it looks at first.'' You learn the Rules in a minute, but the strategy ramifies endlessly. We wonder whether this is just type of CV computers might struggle with for a while.

George Duke wrote on 2008-04-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
'9x9' percentagewise has far and away the most Excellent Chesses, however it may be broken down to get subsets of 0.1% to 1.5% of the 10*4 CVs invented per grouping: whether by such board sizes, or by locale of invention(Hanga Roa is South American), or by Western or Xiangqi-based(further subdivided to get < 2%), subsets of Mutators versus new piece-types, any way that can be thought of to slice it. '9x9' is the pinnacle, however weird it seems. Among the several acme 9x9 is Hanga Roa, already analysed couple of times. Hanga Roa does so much with only three piece-types. One of the two win conditions has kinship with just-discussed Melee preceding it chronologically.

George Duke wrote on 2007-10-31 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Easter Island is proof that rapid deforestation is not monopoly of the 21st Century. How could a complex society descend into ecocide? Or become vanished civilisation in environmental ravaging causing eventual collapse (contributed to by invaders, called 'explorers')? Yet the carving and erection of Moai statues testify something peculiar having happened, and Chess being inherently optimistic facing adversity, 'Thus was born Hanga Roa', Easter Island's (and Chilean Juan Kirsinger's) game of chess. Hanga Roa has but three piece-types on yet another 9x9, together with Lavieri's Altair the best of the 20 or so extant on 81 squares. The initial position comes at the end, a nice touch. The winning conditions are either to get one's Moais (King) across the board (other side of Island) or capture the opponent's Moais by totally surrounding it with any combination of pieces of either side excluding same-colour Stones offering escape. Moais only moves over a string of own Stones, displacing and removing them one and all passed over by the very movement. Ariki moves like Queen, except for no capturing, and instead throws two Stones upon completion of move. 'Mato to'a' moves like King and captures normally by displacement, chiefly Stones. Critical Stones are not pieces as such in that they do not themselves move once placed. Tending to reappear once gobbled up by Mato to'a, there become a lot of Stones on squares even 50%, 75% or more, like encroaching so-called 'civilisation' itself. Great. [Larry Smith adds ''The fact that a computer program has difficulty playing this game increases its potential.''] Smith's quote is said about Go too, with Hanga Roa and Go itself having their similarities.

Anonymous wrote on 2006-03-30 UTC
Can a Mato to'a capture the Moais?

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-05-13 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
The rating 'excellent' is for the beautiful set of pieces!. (the game itself is very nice too, although more complex than it appears at first. It is not easy stablish strategies, and if both bands play well, the path for a victory may be relatively long, I think, but I´m not completely sure because I don´t know how to play it really well. Some experience is needed, without doubts...)

Michael Schmahl wrote on 2004-03-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
It's a very interesting game. I wonder if it would be better if the Ariki moved like Kings (still throwing stones any distance, though), and the Mato'Toa moved like Queens.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-01-21 UTC
Hernan, Juan Pablo: As good contributors, I think you may be Members of The Chess Variants Pages. Read about, and if you are interested, register as Members. The only things needed are your eventual contributions to the Pages, as Hanga Roa (no money!), and it has some benefits, as the possibility of enter the Contests, write comments directly, vote in all the Polls, etc, apart from become part of this nice community. Think on it.

Larry Smith wrote on 2004-01-21 UTC
Since this is a game which involves the goal of a stalemate, the
possibility of a cluttered field is actually desired.  A player would be
wise not to impede their own progress with stone-throwing.

Capturing the opponent's Ariki will be an in-game strategy.  With three
of them, this will be a tough objective to capture them all.  But the
potential is there.  Impeding this piece's moves and stone throws would be a good tactic.

And once a player loses all their Ariki, they might not have the ability
to make their cell goal but they still might capture the opponent Moais. 
Or even to draw the game.

The Mato to’a can only be fully impeded by their own stones or enemy
pieces(not enemy stones).  They cannot be captured.  Send them into the fray.

Remember that the Moais can move swiftly across the field, it is merely
dependent on the connectivity of its stones.

The fact that a computer program has difficulty playing this game does not
negate its potential.  In fact, it increases it.  Once a game has been
fully quantified, although it may have a high degree of difficulty, it
becomes trivial.

For now, this game might best be played between two humans.  Once certain
patterns of play can be discovered, a good computer program might be
worked out.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-01-20 UTCGood ★★★★
It seems to be a nice game. I figure it is much more complex than it looks at first view. I´m not sure if the throwing of two Stones adds too much to the game, the density grows quickly, and some tactics would be difficult to perform, so there is the need of some non-trivial planning from the beginnings. A question: Can Arikis throw only ONE stone?. Can they move without any throw?. I have not played a complete game yet, I have only moved the pieces for a while, taking an idea of the game play, but I think that it is very difficult reach the other side goal, it looks more easy the surrounding objective of the game. I spent one hour this afternoon trying to implement a primitive version of a ZRF, but I have had some troubles with it. My impression is that Zillions is going to be a poor Hanga Roa player, I don´t know if there is other person trying an implementation, but the main problem may be the incapacity of Zillions to avoid fast losing positions in this kind of games, because the objectives of it.

Larry Smith wrote on 2004-01-20 UTCGood ★★★★
I like it.  I like it.  I like it.

The opponent Mato to’a are unable to keep up with the stone-throwing
Ariki.  So the field can become littered with its deposits.

In addition to the goal of a cell, the win by immobilizing the opponent
Moais is a nice condition.

Nice work.  The rules are not complex but the game-play will definitely

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