Tactical card battle game has unique Māori edge

By Talisa Kupenga

A young Māori duo is developing a pā versus pā card battle game to expose more people to Māori culture. It modernises gods as warlords and incorporates waiata (song), karakia (prayer) and other Māori tikanga (protocol) through game battle phases.

Mana and power is at stake for Māori warlords fighting to survive the Empire Card game.

Designer Vincent Egan says, "General New Zealanders will be able to play. It's almost like a passive way and contemporary way for rangatahi (youth) to learn about te Ao Māori (the Māori world)."

Based on strategic duelling card games like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Māori cultural concepts are showcased through battle phases, trap cards and power plays. 

Vincent says, "You draw from your whenua (land) deck and you play those cards and you're basically giving a mihi and acknowledging where you've come from and that's what gives power to your warriors. At that stage you can use things like karakia (prayer) to empower your warriors or waiata awhi (supportive song) so that you know that your deck has your whānau's (family's) back. Those are the parts you're playing through as you go through your turn."

Both Vincent and his concept developer brother Luke are crowd-sourcing funds to complete designs for the first two decks Tumatauenga and Te Whiro. The narrative has these gods caught up in a fierce conflict.

Vincent says, "Each deck will be themed around the different gods that are in those decks and that's just to start with. Once we have a few more decks going then people will be able to customise and change them up."

Luke says, "The warriors in his (Tūmatauenga's) deck might be all about the attack so they might have a high attack low defence and have effects that might make them kind of reckless."

Empire cards is designed for all age groups, and the decks will be complete within the next year.