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This page is written by both of the game's inventors, Hernán Domínguez Placencia and Juan Pablo Schweitzer Kirsinger.

Hanga Roa

by Hernán Marcelo Domínguez Placencia and Juan Pablo Schweitzer Kirsinger

(Version in Spanish)


Since its discovery by the westerners in 1722, Easter Island has captivated and fascinated the world by the hall of mystery that encloses its culture, its history and above all its famous statues called Moais.

The form in which the Moais were carved, transported and summoned to court is not still entirely resolved, but the magnificence of their enigmatic and silent faces is a testimony for our times of the intelligence and tenacity of their builders (the town of Rapa Nui).

Many board games have originated in the most diverse corners of the world, representing elements of the culture where they have been born. Chess for example is an evident and living portrait of the medieval Christian world, with its representative board of a small kingdom and with pieces that represent the most important figures of the feudal war.

The idea arose in these authors of inventing a board game with elements of the culture of Rapa Nui. In a game of this type the board would represent the island, the pieces the figures of the Rapa Nui culture, and the sense and objective of the play some fictitious, historic or mythological event related to them.

Thus was born "Hanga Roa". We conceive it to be like a fight or competition among 2 coalitions of Rapa Nui tribes. Each one of these coalitions fights by displacing in the quickest possible way a Moais in a road of stone, since it is its goal to reach to the opposite side of the island. The Mato to’a or warlike are the pieces responsible for destroying these roads and for impeding the movement of the enemy Moais. The Ariki, or tribal chief, is a piece that has the power of building the stone roads. Another form of victory is reached if one of the coalitions surrounds and knocks down the Moais of its adversary.

Although only time will determine the degree of success of this game, we believe that an objective already has been completed, to honor the value and ingenuity of the people of Rapa Nui.



The game is played in a board of 9x9 squares called the Island.



In "Hanga Roa" each player has 7 pieces, distributed in 3 different hierarchies.

1. Moais:

This is the main piece of the game. It lacks its own movement. It can only move to squares in which stones of its color exist, which are retired when the Moais occupies them.  During a turn the Moai can displace as many stones of its color as there are in its way, provided that they are connected. Upon being displaced, the Moais captures the stones. The Moais can never capture rival stones or other pieces. In the following diagram, two examples of displacement are observed.


If the Moais is completely surrounded by enemy stones, or enemy or friendly pieces, or a combination of these, it is captured and the game ends.

The player's own stones do not form part of the units that enclose the Moais, since they are a way of escaping for the Moai.

In the following diagrams these situations are illustrated.

DIAGRAM 3 In this position the Moais is captured because it is totally surrounded by enemy stones.

DIAGRAM 4 Here the Moais is captured because it is totally surrounded by enemy stones in combination with enemy and friendly pieces that collaborate in this.

DIAGRAM 5: In this situation the Moais is NOT captured, since there is one adjacent friendly stone which constitutes a way of escape.

It is important to emphasize that it is prohibited to situate a piece next to a friendly Moais, if upon doing so its last free square is removed. This means that suicide is not allowed.

2. Ariki:

Moves in the same form that a Queen in Chess. That is to say as many squares as it can go, in diagonal, horizontal or vertical directions.


After carrying out its movement, the Ariki has the right to throw 2 stones in any direction (orthogonal or diagonal) and any number of squares. Both stones can be thrown in the same direction.

The exception is the first move of the black pieces, in which they can only throw one stone (see note).

Note: For the purpose of making the game more balanced, the first player (White) in his first move has the right to only throw one stone with his Ariki. After this move the game can continue in its normal way (throwing 2 stones).

The stones cannot be thrown past other stones or pieces that are in its path. In the following diagrams examples of throwing of stones are seen.

For the case of stones thrown in the same direction, the player should be careful with the order of throws, since the first stone limits the of distance the other stone can be thrown. 

The Black Ariki moves from a2 to d5 and throw stones to h1 and d8.

The White Ariki moves from h9 to h6 and throw stones to d2 and e3.



For the case of stones thrown in the same direction, one should be careful in the order they are thrown, since the first stone is the limit of distance for the other stone. In the preceding example if the stone on e3 was hurled before the stone on d2, this last one would not be able to be thrown to that square, since would imply jumping over the stone on e3.

It is observed in the previous diagram that the Black Ariki cannot throw a stone to the square d1, since it cannot jump over the stone situated on d2.

If an Ariki is surrounded totally by stones or rival pieces, it is captured.

If an Ariki is surrounded with friendly stones, its owner removes it from the board and may drop it on any empty square of the first own row in a future turn. This piece drop constitutes a turn.

3. Mato to’a

This is a defensive piece, whose mission is to destroy rival stones. Also it can perform offensive functions collaborating with the surrounding of an enemy Moais. It moves in the same way as a King in Chess, that is one square in orthogonal or diagonal direction.

It is capable of capturing by replacement friendly or enemy stones by being moved to the square occupied by them.


Initial position of the Pieces

In the following diagram shows the initial setup of the 2 rivals (White and Black) in facing each other. Each player takes one side, and the first move corresponds to the White side.


The game can be also played with other initial formations, respecting the goal of the Moais, and that the pieces cannot be situated in squares that past the half of the board.



The winner of "Hanga Roa" is the first player that manage to carry his Moais to the last square of the enemy field or to capture the adversary Moais.



The players of "Hanga Roa" can register a game following an algebraic system of annotation similar to that of Chess, and utilizing the following letters to describe the movements of the pieces.

M: Moais

A: Ariki

P: Mato to’a

The squares of the board are described according to the coordinates. "a" to "i" and of "1" to "9" as observed in the preceding diagrams.

The move is described in such a way that the group of letters that appears to the left corresponds to the White player and that of the right to that of the Black participant.

Then the movement is described writing first the initial of the piece that moves, followed by the coordinate of the destination square at which the piece arrives. This it is carried out indistinctly if the piece captures.


23. A 3a P 4i. This illustrates that on turn 23 the White played its Ariki to the square 3a, and the Black player responded, moving its Mato to’a to square 4i.

To indicate stones launched add the 2 coordinates of the stones thrown.


2. A 3b 5b h8. This indicates that the Ariki that moves to 3b throws a stone to 5b and the other to h8)

If 2 or more pieces of the same type can make the same movement, the coordinates of the originating square should be placed next to the letter of the piece that moves.