We're back with another Imperium: Horizons civilisation spotlight: the Polynesians...

An illustration of an ancient Polynesian steering a canoe through the ocean as a bird flies overhead, alongside the text: "IMPERIUM: HORIZONS CIVILISATION SPOTLIGHTED: THE POLYNESIANS, DESIGNED BY NIGEL BUCKLE AND DÁVID TUCZI"

Today on the blog we are spotlighting the Polynesians, who present the players with a rather different approach to playing the game, as is fitting for the rather different path their historical story tells us. They also provided us with a unique design challenge too: like the Inuit, they exist as a living culture today, rather than just on the pages of history books.

Polynesians trace their prehistoric origins to Oceanic Southeast Asia, and they migrated from there to the Samoan islands between 1500-900 BCE. But there is only so much food one can grow on an island, and by 500 CE they needed to expand outwards across the whole of the Polynesian Triangle, eventually reaching Aotearoa (New Zealand) around 1280 CE.

A spread of sample cards from the Polynesian deck from Imperium: Horizons, reading left to right: Polynesians, Isle-Bound, Voyaging and Waka Hourua (Large Canoes)

We generally recommend players look through the cards of a civilisation before playing, and this is vital to play the Polynesians with any degree of success – their challenges are very different from the other civilisations featured in the game. This is deliberate; the Polynesians faced an epic task of navigating and expanding across a wide ocean containing over 1000 islands. Most contemporary cultures never voyaged beyond the sight of land.

The first thing to notice is the Polynesians have a unique State card which represents the phases they went through in their expansion. Isle-Bound is where they locate and settle new islands, and Voyaging is when they are searching for new land. This State card is flipped back and forth by playing specific cards such as Waka Hourua (Large Canoes). Timing this flip is tricky: all of the Polynesian development cards are regions to be discovered, which you can only do while Voyaging, but staying at sea too long can leave you in real danger of running out of cards, as you can only draw cards from your deck while Isle-Bound.

A spread of sample cards from the Polynesians deck from Imperium Horizons, titled left to right: Polynesians, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Mana and Explorers

You’ll note the development cost of Rapa Nui is mana. This is another feature of the Polynesian deck. Polynesian mythology has the concept of mana; the possession of the energy or power that permeates the universe, giving its owner great authority. We represent this with the Mana card that starts in play next to your power card, and forces you to temporarily remove cards from your deck to be used as mana. Somewhat similarly to the Atlanteans (found in Imperium: Legends) the Polynesians have no history pile (since they did not rely much on written history). They instead have a Legends pile, meaning that usual one-use cards that would be put into history can be reused. Gaining Fame cards is also linked to Mana and the Legends pile, using the Explorers card.

Find out more about the Japanese, Taíno, Mayans, Inuit and Magyars here.
And watch this space a week today for the game's first fictional civilisation, the Cultists...

High res versions of the sample cards above are available
on the the game's
BoardGameGeek page under the images section.

Imperium: Horizons is out February 2024. Pre-order now.