A perverse hunting board game for 2-5 players from Historien Spielegalerie, Germany
This review copyright 1999 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated June 3, 1999

Halali is a very silly game with a wonderful premise: eighteen hunters are out hunting the last hare in Bavaria. Unfortunately for them, they never hit the hare, but do manage to shoot each other ...

The game comes a cardboard tube and has a vinyl board that curls inside. There are also eighteen wooden hunters, with different colored hats to denote which hunting club they are with, and a wooden hare and a little wooden bush. There are also two sets of cards: one set of six with the club names and colors on them (each club has three hunters, but at least one club is neutral - owned by no one), and a set of 24 Rifle cards. A pair of unique dice are provided. The components are a strange mixture of attractive and bland, and don't seem to go together totally, but that's okay. The theme is so delightful no one minds.

Finally, there are the rules. These are frankly among the most confusing and incomplete rules sets I've ever seen. I've had to work closely with a friend in England in order to figure out how the game works - at least, how we think it works. We're not sure. But the rules we've evolved are fast and fun, so we're happy with them. This review is based on that interpretation, which should be found at BoardgameGeek.

To start the game, the hare is placed in the center of the hexagonally-shaped board, and the hunters around the edges. The board is eleven spaces across, from one point of the hexagon to its opposite, so none of the hunters start very close to the hare.

Each player draws a club card, denoting which color hunters are his own. This is kept secret from the other players. The first player then rolls the dice and the game begins.

The dice are six-sided, but have Blank, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4 on each of them. If a 2,3 are rolled, for example, the player whose turn it is decides whether that means he moves two hunters up to three spaces each, or three hunters up to two spaces each. For one movement point, a hunter can either move one space directly forward (they all have little rifles which should point to one space at all times - that's the only direction they can shoot or move) or it can rotate 60 degrees. A player can move a hunter of any color he chooses - no one knows which hunters are whose, and since the object is to shoot all the opponents' hunters and not your own, you don't necessarily want to move your own, anyway. Except maybe to throw the others off track about which color is yours ...

When all movement is done, check to see if any hunter is aiming at the hare. If so, roll the dice again, this time adding the numbers together to see how far a shot goes. If you get blank,blank, a gun blows up (remove a hunter). If you shoot far enough to hit the hare exactly, it blithely moves out of the way instead of being hit. If you roll the exact distance between two hunters, they shoot each other (if both aiming at the hare - otherwise, only the one not aiming at the hare is shot) - remove the hunters. If you roll a number greater than the distance between two hunters, one of them dies - take your pick. (I should make it clear that a hunter may not fire his gun unless he's aiming at the hare. To shoot directly at another hunter would be murder, and this game does not condone that, of course. These are strictly accidentaly shootings, when two hunters face each other with the hare between them ...) Pass the dice to the next player, and the game continues.

The game has short and long game end conditions. In the short game, it's over when all three of one player's hunters are removed from the game. That person loses and everyone else wins. In the long version, play until only one player has any hunters left, and that player is the sole winner.

The Rifle cards allow you to do various things, such as prevent one color hunter from moving (lunchtime) or allow a second shot if the first one missed, or allow movement of five for one color's hunters, etc. You can play one card each player's turn, but only one card per color can be played in a given turn.

All in all, a silly game, but actually not bad in the strategy/tactics department. It requires some thought to save your hunters without being obvious about it, though shooting is pure luck, I admit. Still, it's a very satisfying game, watching the hare skip out of harm's way consistently, while the hunters drop like flies. Expensive, due to the handmade parts, but fun.

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