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‘First Inuit-designed board game’ Nunami strives for a natural balance

Always make room for polar bears.

Thomassie Mangiok says Nunami is the first Inuit-designed board game. Meaning “on the land” in his language, the Ivujivik, Quebec resident said it is “meant to show that managing our place of living is important through a fun game.”

In Nunami, two to four players compete to manage the terrain across six hexagonal tiles by arranging triangular cards corresponding either to humans or nature. The tiles can be dynamically placed at the start, changing the flow of the game and how cards will interact with one another. Cards from a community deck are placed facedown during setup, and each combatant draws a hand of five that they will alternatively place during their turn.

Placing cards from your hand may allow you to access the facedown cards on the hexagonal board, thereby earning you those points. The goal to winning Nunami is balance; inhabiting the land metaphorised by each board must come at the cost of some natural space, but aggressive expansion leaves no room for non-human life. Earning points requires a balance of both kinds of cards, forcing players to consider where to foster nature and where to build homes for people.

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This design ethos was always at the heart of Nunami. “Players can win only if they don't overpopulate their bases with their units,” Mangiok said. “I love nature and I intend to have players strengthen their relationship with it through Nunami. Play this game to reduce our tendencies to be conquerors; let's become participants of a healthy global ecosystem.”

According to the Nunatsiaq News, Mangiok attempted to Kickstart Nunami in 2018 but was ultimately unsuccessful. He took the time to address problems with the design, expand the number of players and enhance the overall production of the final product. He relaunched in September 2019 and was successful by the end of the month.

Mangiok recently updated the Nunami Kickstarter campaign to announce that it is now available to purchase through Amazon. He remains active in the community and on Reddit, taking feedback for future changes and tweaks.

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