Exalted: The Black Heart of the Isles
Noi Poi, or “Great Wave,” is a game of skill and chance played by 2 or more islanders. It is played on a 4-by-4 grid (usually simply a series of lines drawn in the sand) using broad rocks or seashells and a single small, long playing piece (usually just a stick, but some craftsmen have been known to carve small figurines).
The playing piece is a canoe, and the rocks are the movement of the waves; the goal is to capsize the canoe. As the game goes on, the seas are getting rougher. The canoe will be sunk, but each islander is competing to see who will make the last move.
The players each take turns either a) placing a rock (or “wave”) in a free space or b) stacking a wave that is currently on the game board on top of another adjacent wave. To stack a wave higher, the target wave must have at least 2 adjacent waves at its current level (the wave you are stacking from counts at its height before removing the stone). The game ends when a wave is stacked 3 stones high next to the canoe.
Fisherman often start a game in the morning before going their separate ways, reappearing throughout the day to make another move before leaving. It is not uncommon for an unrelated passersby to come upon these unattended games in progress and make a move before leaving, and this is considered simply the randomness of the sea. A wise player will think ahead to who else may be in the area and when the next time they can move may be.
(Ed. Note: I haven’t exactly playtested this, but this was my first draft. Kind of like a 3D Connect-4? I was considering some action the player could take to move the canoe, or some circumstance under which the canoe moves based on the waves, but decided to leave it for now. I’d welcome input. My design principles were:
– able to be played easily with what’s on hand,
– able to be acted upon by a passerby – meaning asynchronous gameplay as well as no opposing “sides” of game pieces – it shouldn’t matter who’s turn it is, so long as you don’t make more than 1 move at a time)