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Game Review

Sunda to Sahul
The game of stone age colonisation

Ages 10 and up
Dr. Don Bone
Game © 2002 Sagacity Games
game in play

1-4 Players45-120 minutes


Take the role of a primitive god and form islands for your tribes to live on.


There are several layers to this game depending upon the level of rules you choose to play. The core of the game play remains the same for most of the rules options.

To begin, players choose the spirit totem to identify them and are dealt a set number of totem markers to use -- for a 3 player game there are 16 markers per player. All of the puzzle pieces are dealt out as evenly as possible to the players. The youngest player places the first piece of the puzzle, which must be a piece that has no land.

On your turn, you place two puzzle pieces into the main puzzle. There is no penalty for a piece that doesn't fit other than having to find a replacement piece. Water sections of puzzle may only touch shoreline or water, similarly non-shoreline land may only touch land when combining pieces.

For a 2-4 player game with beginner rules, players score a point by completing a land "node." A node is created wherever the tips of several puzzle pieces come together, and no more may be added. Nodes can be made with 3, 4, or 5 pieces. When a node is created, that player places his/her spirit totem on it.

The game ends when a player places his/her last totem marker, or players have run out of pieces to place in the puzzle, or all players agree that they cannot legally place any more pieces.

Advanced rules include "water rights", tribes, cooperating tribes, challenges, and extra resources. In most cases these rules are changes in score keeping -- and consequently change player strategies.

Water rights allow for points to be awarded if a player successfully completes a lake on an island.

Tribe rules allow players to stack their totems together whenever they create a node. Additional points are based on the number of totem markers in a tribe. For example a tribe with two markers is worth 4 points (2 points/marker), whereas a tribe with 4 markers is worth 16 (4 points/marker). Cooperating Tribes rules allow players to combine multiple players' totems into the same tribe and players mutually benefit from the size of the tribe.

Challenges for control of tribes are an addition that introduce die rolls into the game. The successful challenger removes one of the defeated opponent's markers from a tribe and replaces it with one of their own.

Finally, resources offer extra bonus points to the most populous tribe on an island.

The advanced rules are constructed so that certain rules may be excluded until players have learned how to apply the more basic rules.

The game may be played in turns or "simultaneously" by all players. In "simultaneous" play, all players place pieces as fast as they can. They only pause from puzzle building when a challenge occurs.

The game may also be played as a solitaire, one player builds an island to match a picture in the rule book.

Early play

Mid game

Winning Conditions:

  • When the game ends, points are counted. The player with the most points wins.

end game

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!This game was described by the Baroness as "like playing a competitive puzzle." The piece placement greatly depends upon the set of rules you are using, and the overall competitiveness of the group.

The zombies have played this twice to date. First, we played the beginner game. This taught us a lot of how the pieces fit together, and how to choose your pieces so that you can build one node almost every turn. It was very balanced, and was a virtual tie until one player was able to place their last totem to end the game denying the other players further opportunity to score.

On the second occasion, we played with the advanced rules of water rights and tribes -- but without cooperating tribes. In this variation, we discovered that piece placement was extremely important. It really mattered that your opponents were building one large island, and you might not be able to keep pace with their scores if you tried to build your own separate island at the wrong time. Limiting the size of islands became critical in mid-game. You desperately want space for your own pieces, but you don't want to give any opportunities for your opponents to prosper from your work.

On both occasions, we all thoroughly enjoyed this game. We played for almost to two hours each time. If you have competitive players in the game, expect this game to last for two hours. Afterwards, we were all mentally tired, but we had a great deal of fun getting that way. The games for us were usually very close, which speaks very well for the game's balance.

"Sunda to Sahul's" presentation is extremely nice. The pieces are made from wood, so they will survive multiple games. The rules are simple enough to learn quickly, but complex enough to actually force strategy changes depending upon the puzzle layout and the particular rules in use. The advanced rules structure is a nice way to learn the more complex aspects of the game in successive steps. It is obviously well designed and well presented.

We recommend this game for anyone who enjoys strategy games, and anyone who enjoys puzzles. This is a game that makes you think as well as compete. It can be played without a lot of interplayer competitiveness, or you can play it with players' competitiveness in mind (include the rule for challenges and agressive players can lead as many attacks as they can muster.)

I will be curious to see if the price changes once it is distibuted in the USA. Right now, it's on the higher end of prices for a game (about US$50), but when you see how it was made, the cost makes sense -- it's not a simple set of molded plastic toy pieces, it's a well designed puzzle. It's definitely worth looking into if you want a new game that is different from the standard pop-culture fare.

Where to buy:

In Australia, check your local game store. It retails for about AU$79.95. Outside Australia, order it at from Sagacity Games -- via paypal it cost US$48.00. Shipping will take 2-4 weeks.

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