The next big release from Azul publisher Next Move Games will be Maui, a 30-minute board game about competitive beach towel placement. Yep, you read that right.
Set on the titular Hawaiian island, Maui tasks two to four players with finding the perfect spot on their individual beach boards to lay 13 towels side by side.
Each towel takes up three of a possible seven spaces in each column, with some of the board’s spaces taken up by eight parasols placed randomly during setup.
The towels each have three different patterns, which must be placed so they match at least one pattern of the previous towel. As you can probably guess, matching more patterns scores more points, with each pattern having a separate score track. Covering a parasol collects the token’s bonus - either additional points for a specific pattern or pearls that reward bonus points at the end of the game.
Towels also score points based on their proximity to each of the board’s top and bottom edges, representing the ocean and a line of shade provided by trees. Getting as close as possible to the water or shade is required to score maximum points, but placing part of a towel outside of the beach - presumably leaving your beachgoers wet or cold - loses points.
Players can buy additional towels from a market board using sand dollars, which are subsequently placed back in the market for other players to optionally pick up instead of claiming a towel.
Once a player places their final towel, the game ends. Players add up the points from their towel patterns, pearls and sand dollars to determine the winner.
The game’s board can be flipped over for an alternative mode that replaces parasols with sand crabs that lose points when covered with a towel.
Maui comes from co-designers Grégoire Largey, Sébastien Pauchon and Frank Crittin, who previously collaborated on last year’s steampunk garden-building game Botanik and 2019’s ancient Egypt-themed Ankh'or. Pauchon previously created two-player board game Jaipur and Spiel des Jahres-nominated trading game Yspahan, while Largey and Crittin collaborated on the retro video game-inspired ‘board game console’ 8Bit Box.
The upcoming board game is the latest four-letter title from Next Move, best known for acclaimed tile-placement game Azul and its sequels. The studio has also published the colourful coral-stacking game Reef and nectar-collecting title Beez.
Maui will be released this summer, with a price to be announced.