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The second card posted in the Sneak Peak is the Tattoo card.

Tattooing was used in ancient Polynesian society to express one's identity and personality. Tattoos would indicate status in a hierarchy society: sexual maturity, genealogy and one's rank within society. Nearly everyone in ancient Polynesian society was tattooed.

Traditional tattooing tools consist of a comb with needles carved from bone or tortoise shell, fixed to a wooden handle. The needles are dipped into a pigment made from the soot of burnt candlenut, mixed with water or oil. The needles are then placed on the skin and the handle is tapped with a second wooden stick, causing the comb to pierce the skin and insert the pigment. The name tattoo comes from the sound of this tapping.

Tattoo was a "tapu" (taboo) or sacred art form. It was performed by shamans (tahua) who were highly trained in the religious ritual, the meaning of the designs and technical aspects of the art. The designs and their location on the body were determined by one's genealogy, position within the society and personal achievements. In preparation for the tattooing, one would have to undergo a period of cleansing. This generally involved fasting for a specified length of time and abstaining from sexual intercourse or contact with women. The patient was immobilized in a sort of vise composed of two trunks of banana trees, between which he was attached and held tight. The tattooer, accompanied by his assistants, sang a sort of chant of the occasion, syncopated to the rhythm of the tapping of his little mallet. Each drop of blood was rapidly wiped up with a scrap of tapa cloth, so that none be allowed to fall to the ground.

The traditional tattoo designs can be divided into 2 groups:

  • Enata: natural symbols representing one’s life history, island of origin, social level, work and activities. Some provided magical protections: a fisherman could have symbols protecting him from sharks, or a warrior against his enemies.
  • Etua: mystic symbols representing past ancestors - chiefs and shamans - and the gods. These symbols would confer honor amongst the tribe and protection from gods (against natural dangers and evil spirits). Etua symbols are closely related to the mana – the spiritual force. The mana was inherited from ancestors but the people were supposed to develop and master this power.
  • In Conquest of Paradise, the Tattoo card provides the player with one victory point, because of its cultural importance. But it also provides a bonus in combat.

    The unique combat system in Conquest of Paradise is simple but interesting: both players line up their units that are in the combat hex, with combat units in front, and other units in back. The attacker rolls one die at a time. The results can remove a combat unit from one player or the other, or more likely, cause a combat unit to panic. When this happens, the combat unit is moved back with the non-combat units. When one player runs out of active combat units, he must retreat from the hex, and the other player wins the combat.

    If a player has the Tattoo card, he can reveal it at any time he wants to. This is usually done right after the attacker has rolled a result that causes his enemy to panic. Then, instead of one combat unit sliding back with the non-combat units, two panic. This can make a desperate defence suddenly quite viable, or make a good attack a sure thing.

    After a player reveals his Tattoo card, it remains face-up in front of him. Now the other players are aware of the particularly fierce tattoos his warriors have! Once in every combat thereafter, he can cause two enemy combat units to panic instead of one.

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