“Small, simple and fun” must be the moto for Oink Games, as well as my review for the game. Thank you for tuning in. Goodbye....
Flotsam Fight is another, very small box game that fits in the palm of your hand. And seems to be the model of production for Oink. It’s also a continuation of a story from a previous title, Deep Sea Adventure. In that game, you were bringing treasure up from the depths of the sea to your submarine. In this one, your sub is taking on water and you have to evacuate to the lifeboats with your collection of priceless artifacts.
Unlike the first part of the story, that used a push your luck mechanic with dice rolling and space displacement, this is a pure traditional style card game, in which you still have the push your luck aspect of, which card to play that will let me play more cards and stop the other players playing more of their own. But done in a light, mathematical way, that is not only fun to play but educational for the younger ones at the table.
There are eight lifeboats on the table, each with their own number, between 3 and 10. And you will have a hand of treasure cards dealt to you, each has a different value, somewhere in the realm of 3 and 99. These treasure values are divisible by the numbers marked on the lifeboats. For example, 77 is only divisible by the number 7, so can only be played into the lifeboat marked with that number. Where as treasure 42 can be placed in either lifeboat 3,6 or 7. So far it sounds like a traditional card game, and you’d be correct in that thinking. I have played games similar to this with a standard deck of cards. And they have all been funnish. What makes this game stand out, is nothing to do with the artwork, that you will forget exists when playing, but the restrictions the game puts on the player.
To start, if you load a treasure onto a boat, it must be of a superior value to the previous treasure played there. Of course, the higher the value, there is less chance of another card being played on top of that by any player. And again, even less chance depending of the divisibility of that lifeboat number. You’ll also be restricted by the amount of lifeboat available to load upon, depending on the number of players playing. Therefore, in a two player game, only two lifeboats can be loaded up with treasure. Just until one or the other player can not or chooses not to play.
This resets the the lifeboats, as all played cards are removed to a discard pile and play continues with the one who never passed. Making a two player game quick, but also not so interesting, as there is not really much to risk due to most of the cards not being in play. Where as more players opens up more lifeboats and more risk. You’ll be tempted to play those higher cards earlier, to bring the game to a standstill, then the lifeboats can be reset and you take control of the round, like a trick taking game. You’ll also think a little more about passing, just to save your best cards for the final stretch. As being caught with only one card in your hand after the lifeboats are reset, inflicts a penalty of starting with two extra cards. Unless you haven’t passed. And that last card “can” be played. You can play it and claim that mini victory.
Your objective is to place all of these treasures into the lifeboats and get them safely out of danger. Being the first player to do so will rope you the largest score for the round. The other players will squabble for the second and the last place score tokens, by revealing the highest valued treasure of the remaining cards in their hands. The one that has the smallest value will scoop up the second prize score, whereas the player with the largest remaining treasure collects the negative point token. Their small values of 2 points, 1 point and -1 point are an added bonus to the fluffiness of this endeavor. Meaning that the end of game scoring, after the third hand, is quick and simple.
Technical score 9/10
Aside from a rule book that needs cleaning up a few keywords to help explain the game clearly, there is not much to say. It’s a small deck of cards with a few tokens of good quality. Meaning you can sneak it into restaurants and play quickly before your meal arrives. It’s simple mechanisms that resemble other cards games, make it easy to teach. And the strange art and colour pallet that does nothing, apart from try to make it stand out from everything else out there. And while playing, you won’t be looking at the individual campy art on the cards, but the number and the side numbers that act as a key to which lifeboat this treasure can be loaded on. Useful.
My BGG score 7/10 - Good, usually willing to play
I like playing games like this, especially with a group of players. The more the merrier. Quick and easy, no brainer games that require little to no planning. Maybe it the feeling that you are getting “one up” on the other players as you whizz through your hand. Or that it’s because of the many moments where you bite your tongue, as some gets “one up” on you and stops you playing cards. A good filler and holiday game.
Combined score 8/10
Now it's over to you...
The “Choose Your Own Murder Mystery Adventure” has landed and as well as crossing two game genres,(choose your own adventure & murder mystery) it also crosses two gaming mediums (board game, app game). It’s called Chronicles of Crime, and rightly so. There is a crime that has been committed and the clock is ticking. You’ll be investigating crime scenes, interrogate suspects and drawing your conclusions as quick as you can. Do this well and your team will get a high score. Failing slightly or terribly means that you can replay to see if you can do better. Or just look at the solution.
As you can tell, this is a team game or a solo affair if you wish. Both experiences make a little difference. Play on your own and you’ll be 100% engaged, but may miss certain clues or not be able to think out of the box. Playing in a team, your engagement level is as high as you want it to be. The more you participate, the more you get out of it. Being timid may leave you on the sideline, wishing you said “yes” to TI4 instead. And the more minds there are, the better the chance of succeeding at this puzzle. As this is what the game is. A tangled puzzle of what he said, she said, this clue, that clue and “I think it was…”
At the start of the game, after choosing a scenario, you’ll be given very limited information about a crime. Either a murder, theft or a disappearance. And away you go. If you have ever been on a Murder Mystery Weekend, this game will be very familiar. Instead of going away with some friends, to a hotel and dressing up in period costumes, you’ll be sat around a table, trying to decide what to do and where to go. And instead of bumping into character actors in the dining room or hallway, to get their accounts of what they saw and heard, you’ll have a deck of beautifully drawn character cards, with QR codes to scan. Scanning a card will be like talking to these actors.
But as I said, you will start with just one location or one character. By interacting, you will open up new locations and other characters. The game comes mainly from a very smart app that you will have to download to play. It holds a selection of stories for you to play and there are more in the works. Where as the table will hold a board, that houses locations, clues and characters. Everything has a QR code that you’ll scan into your smart device. A very intuitive system, where if you want to go to a location, you scan it and voila, your there. To talk to someone, scan them and they are now talking to you. But they need to be in the location that you are in. Ask someone about something, scan that person then that item. Scan, scan, scan. There is a lot of scanning in the game. More so at the beginning of the game, as you are collecting evidence and clues to a story you know not much about. There’s so much scanning, you may forget that this is a board game.
Talking of scanning...
If you have an older device to run your game on, you may like I, have trouble running the app. Or find that it freezes while searching for clues. Or it may struggle to scan codes, sending frustration through the group as you wait for a response from your number one suspect. Where if you have a brand spanking device, the game will run seamlessly. And fun will be had.
I’d say that around 70% of the game is on the device, the other 30% is at the table or in the imagination of players, trying to piece together this mystery. The game tries to get everyone at the table involved in the form of a light virtual reality, search the crime scene segment. One investigator will be given the app and using it, look around the location, calling out thing of note to the rest of the team. While the team will be flicking through a deck of clue cards, trying to find cards that correspond to what the investigator is seeing. The cards are vague in substance. Stating “bags” or “decorations.” The vagueness works well as player can discuss and debate whether it was a clue or not. It also leaves this items open for use in another scenario, as they could be shopping bags, hand bags or luggage bags.
The virtual reality that the game uses is like a 360 degree image that the investigator can either scroll through with a finger and zoom. Or if you have purchased the Kickstarter addon of the 3D glasses, you can slip these onto you screen and look around the interior of a bubble image. A very nice use of technology in a board game, as it inserts the player right into the world they are playing in. A time limit is added as well, meaning you will frantically be shouting out all kinds of things, in vain hope that your team can find the right clue cards. This adds some of the tension to the game, because as the titles states, you are up against the chronometer.
Every action you perform with the app, costs “in game” time. Your case may be on a time limit, were every minute count. As a team, you’ll be talking back and forth about what to do and what questions to ask. Every question, location change and search of a crime scene costs a different amount of in game time. Before you know it, it’s the evening, in game that is. And each character has a real life in this virtual world. Bob may be found in his Camden Town office during the day, but at night, he is at a little bar in Soho. And because of the way the game is written, Bob may be happy talking to you, up to a point. But asking him about one particular thing may result in him taking a dislike to you or maybe not wanting to see you at all. He may disappear entirely from the game. And that’s a hat tipping moment of the game, to the writers and programmers. You feel this world is alive.
The scenarios and dialogue are top notch. Nothing overwhelmingly complicated but still intriguing deep and perplexing. When characters speak, it’s not pages of exposition. It’s short, sweet, to the point and laced with clues. The language is not overly elegant like in Doyle’s Sherlock, but more in the realm of a TV sitcom, meaning everyone will understand what is being said. And everything that is said will make you go, “oooh!” In the scenarios I have played, there always seems to be a myriad of possible suspects or interwinding connections between the cast. The more you learn from the world, the more the path becomes clear. And before you know it, you are debating with your fellow detectives, that your account of the story is the correct one. Once you’ve persuaded them to take you to the station, to file your report to the chief, your in end game mode. You’ll answer a collection of question about the scenario, scanning the appropriate responses. Finally, you’ll get to see if your deduction skills have paid off, with a final score. This score will be made up from the correct answers plus the time that is took you to complete the story.
Each story will, after a time of discovery, get conversations started at the table. You’ll be recounting the events, drawing lines and connections between all the suspects. Laughing, arguing and brainstorming all the possible events that have come to pass, that have lead you to your conclusion. A real team game, where you may be making notes, taking names and placing bets on the outcome. You’ll soon forget that you are sat around a table will a smart device in your hand. You’ll actually feel that you are in New Scotland Yard, with Inspector Morse, Columbo and Jessica Fletcher.
Once you have completed a scenario successfully, it’s gone. You can replay it if you wish, but you’ll not be surprised by anything. Even if you play with a different group, months later. Something will trigger a memory and the answers will come flooding back. You could hold your tongue and let the others discovery the wonders of the game, but there’ll be nothing in it for you. Making replayability null and void. Although, replaying a scenario you failed at miserably, is a little more rewarding. But like the Choose Your Own Adventure book, when you die and restart, you’ll be zooming through the starting pages of text because you already know it. Until you get to that branching point in the story were you find something you didn’t see before or get a different response from a character. It is still satisfying when you finally get the correct conclusion. But again, unplayable after. A nice touch is that if you do fail, there is no obligation to replay, as there is an option to see the solution. Clicking on this option and you’ll get the who did it and why. So if your friends can’t come back next week, they have some closure to the story.
One other bug from playing a set in stone story is that, sometime you may miss a clue, not shown the right clue to the right person and feel that you have walked into a dead end. Not sure of where to go and what to scan, you do this frantically until something falls into your lap. Or not. The game does try to help you in the form of, if you pass a certain amount of in game time, you’ll receive a text from the chief of police. This will inform you that maybe someone else has been killed, and you need to get your ass to a location to interview someone. This puts pressure on you, but also help the story move forward. But if you are prudent about your scanning and not wanting to waste time, you may pass a lot of real game time, look blankly over the table, retracing your actions. What did you miss? Luckily, there are four, on hand experts that you can call on, who deal with forensics, medicine, data information and phycology. Always a phone call away. Another nice feature in the app is the ability to go back through the history of your scenario, reading everything that was said and done. A great feature if you have to stop playing for lunch, to recap “previously on…” And useful if you are all clued out.
Technical score 9.5/10
The presentation of the game is extremely well put together. From the wonderful (slightly to big) box insert to the simplistic rule set. And the artistic palette used in the locations and characters is pleasing to the eye. Cartoonie, but relatable. The fact that everything can be reused in another story and be something different. Like the characters, who are like actors. In one story, character 52 is a gardener and in another story, the politician. There are even linked stories that continue off from the previous ones. With the same roles designated to characters and seeing the repercussions of you solving a case. There is infinite stories that can be told with just this base box, as long as there are more available for download later on. And the app handles really well. Any bugs that crop up are cleaned up quickly, thanks to the quick response from the team at Luck Duck. Although the app lacks one small thing that will help immerce the players into the game further. Sound effect. The music is good (yes, I’m kissing my own ass as it was me that did it) but very repetitive. Many will just switch it off. Shame!
My BGG score 8/10
This is why we get around a table. To debate, discuss and have fun. And that’s what this games does. Although there is a long period at the start of every game of silence and scanning. Are real detective game that feels like a detective game. Just needs either a random element or a bucket load of scenarios to play...right now! =)
This game is my cup of tea
Board games are magic. They can create an air of light, puzzling enjoyment or deep, perplexed confrontation. Normally ending with a in-depth discussion of how things could have gone, one way or the other. And some games have the bizarre ability to make laugh in the pursuit of achieving your goal. Party games fall into this cauldron of games, casting a spell that makes you say or do silly things.
A previous title from Buzzy Games, Top Face, preformed this trick seamlessly. Where one player would draw a card from a deck. Then have to make the same grimace as the image depicted on this card. While the other players had to race to find that face, from a large selection of face-pulling pictures scattered on the table. Simple, amusing and fun for 10 minutes. Longer, if playing with a large group of children and even longer, with a handful of tipsy adults.
Abra Kazam builds off of this game, which is basically the same concept. One player takes the role of the spellcaster and performs an action and the others race to find that action. In regards to the action, Abra Kazam has you casting spells, Potter style. The game comes with a cutely decorated magic wand, which players will be waving in the air, instead of pulling a face. It will be the movement of this wand that will point the other players (or wizards) to discern which spell is being cast by the spellcaster. Unlike Top Face that has around 60 different cards to choose from, this game has a select 24 cards. Narrowing down the choices a tad, but by no means making it easier.
There are four different coloured sets of spell in the game, that are housed in a beautiful but slightly strange box insert. Only two of these sets are used per game, which leads to a slightly different game each time you open the box. On one side is the spell name and a star constellation like drawing, that the movement of the wand needs to follow to activate the spell. The reverse side of the card has the effect of the spell, which I will get to a little later. A duplicate set of these spell cards, with only the spell image are also in the box. These are the cards that the spellcaster will draw from after they have been shuffled. The nice subtle thing about this smaller deck of cards, is that the drawn spell is the reverse to the larger spell cards. So when a spellcast cast their spell from the small card they have in their hand, they will be drawing it in the air, in the correct orientation for the other players.
Each player will have one chance to guess which spell is being cast. Pointing to it and shouting out it’s name. The fastest to do so will win you and the spellcaster a point. Carnage will ensue when kids all scream out, what they perceive the spell and spell name is. “Intellectualis” will become “Intolltacules,” or “Gallinarum will become “that one.” Fingers flailing everywhere. One minute here, the next there, and all because their mother pointed to the same spell too. Guessing incorrectly will mean that you sit out for a while, until someone or no one finds the spell. Finding the correct spell means, both the spellcaster and correct player, takes either the small or the large card into their spell book (a coloured card with a book on it). Each card in your spell book is a point at the end of the game.
Here is another change from Top Face, and evidently, the magic of this game. The player that guessed correctly becomes the new spellcaster. But they have had the previous spell cast on them. They will read the spell effect on the card they have just collected and have to perform the next spell in that fashion. You could be transformed into a Unicorn and have to attach the wand as if it was your horn, casting the next spell with your head. Or a smoke spell covers your eyes, meaning you cast the spell with your eyes closed. Or you are transformed into a snail, casting your spell extremely slow. Whatever you do, the game forces you to mime and act a little. Not too much that you feel like a fool, but a bit. This generates giggles from kids as they watch their parents do crazy things and fits of laughter when merry Uncle Mike does something very bizarre. Performing these actions with a spell becomes a challenge for the young one and also a source of amusement. And once the laughter has died down, the wand has changed hands and you carry on playing.
The game never outlives its welcome, with it’s built in timer. 10 spell remain on the table means it’s game over. Count your cards. It also balances itself, becoming quicker as you remove spells, leaving less possibilities to choose from.
In amongst it’s four types of spells, there are the red spell cards. These are not recommended for your first game. Although there is nothing difficult about them, they add another layer to the game. Making it more of a party style game. These cards have permanent spells that, when cast on the player, stay with them until they guess the next spellcasters spell. Nothing to difficult. Maybe you are now a Cyclopes, watching the game with one eye open or you’ve been turned into a dog, panting with your tongue out. This adds more amusement to the game but only to those who wish to participate in the crazy shenanigans. It might not be ideal for Grandma Gladdis to be tip-toeing around imaginary mice, at the age of 90.
At its heart, this is a family game, aimed mainly at children. And those of a disposition to all things Potter. Adults will probably take it or leave it, but the kids will want to play again and again. And hopefully won't start fighting over the wand. As a party game or cocktail game, it will work at certain parts of the evening. But the game nudges you to be silly, without pushing too hard. And you may or may not like that. Plus, you must alway have space around a bit table, for arms and legs to go flying.
Technical review 9/10
Some magical artwork with a cool magic wand and interesting, yet quaint insert. Simple presented rule book with light mechanisms for families, but party style may not be for all. Not interesting with 3 players.
My BGG score 6/10 (OK - will play it if in the mood)
The presentation is well done, but I like my humor in a game to come naturally. Always fun with new people and when I’m finished. I’m finished. I don’t feel the need to replay. I would recommend playing Top Face instead. It’s cleaner, more natural and you know what your letting yourself in for.
Combined score 7.5/10
As far back as I can remember, I have always enjoyed sitting at a table with my family. A handful of cards in front of me. Brainstorming, which card to play to win the hand of cards already piled on the table. Contemplating the number of trick I had said that I would win to gain the maximum points. Yes, I'm talking about playing a game we use to call “Trumps.” Where players would start with a number of cards, a designated suit would be the trumping suit and we'd bid on the number of tricks we believed we would win with that hand. All from a standard 52 card deck.
Jump many years forward and my family still love playing that game. Although, this time I am what you'd call a gamer with my head filled with other ways of playing. I introduce The Great Dalmuti from the renowned Richard Garfeild. The guy who created Magic: The Gathering and Netrunner. Two very intricate card games that are so revered in our circles. Unlike those titles, Dalmuti is at it's core a very simple trick taking game, like Trumps, with no scoring but bucket loads of fun.
The funny thing is, I was introduced to a French tarot card game a few years before buying my copy of Dalmuti, that very much resembles it. This French version carries a slightly vulgar name with it, although that is part of the pleasure of it. In the forward to the rules, Garfield acknowledges that his game came from many traditional card games from around the world, that used these mechanisms. It's just that he took it and published it as his own. Very brave of you Richard.
One of the major differences of this printed version of the game is that it has a distinguished deck of cards. No suits, just numbers. Each numbered card contains that number of cards in the deck. Starting at 12 number 12 cards, 11 number 11, and so on. Just until the number one card, aptly named The Great Dalmuti. The most powerful card in the deck. There are also two Joker cards that have a hidden number of 13. The weakest cards, possibly. We'll talk about them a little later.
The deck is designed for 4 to 8 players, as the less of you there are, the bigger your hand of cards is. Not that this detriments your game. Playing as 4 or 8 the game scales and feels the same. Although, the position you sit at on the table may feel like a detriment. This is because this trick taking card game has more of an air of a party game. Before starting, players will draw a card from the deck to be allocated their position in the world. If you have the lowest card, you become the Dalmuti. ruler of your wonderful kingdoms and all it's subjects. The player with the second lowest becomes the Vice Dalmuti and sits to the left of their King. And so on around the table until the last player sits on the right of the esteemed leader. This player is the lowest of the low. The Peon. It is their job to deal out the cards and collect the cards in every round. Maybe even be told by the Dalmuti themselves, to bring everyone drinks or snacks. Or scratch a back or two.
It is the job of the Peon to elevate themselves into a position of power and for the Dalmuti to keep their own. This is done in a trick taking fashion. Be the fastest to discard your hand to become the Great Dalmuti, or the second fastest to become the Vice Dalmuti. So on and so on.
After the Peon has dealt out the whole deck, there is a taxation phase. The Peon is obliged to give 1 or 2 of their best cards, depending on the number of players, to the Dalmuti. While the Dalmuti does the opposite. Bare in mind, the low the card, the better it is. The Vice Dalmuti may have to do the same with the Vice Peon, if there are more players. So already, our Peon has got it hard. Collecting the rubbish from the top chair. In fact the Peon player may get down hearted by starting a game with a hand that they can never win a trick with. But with a little patience and timing, a Peon can jump into the number one spot. Or at least climb the food chain without the aid of luck.
As the Dalmuti, you'll lead the game by playing a card or a number of cards of the same value. Maybe 3 of the number 12 cards or 1 number 7 card. All players are inclined to play the same number of cards but of a lower value, or pass. It might be even advantageous to split a group of same value cards, just so you can play in that round. You may even decide to pass, while holding cards you could have played. This will continue around the table until everyone has pass, making the player who added the last cards to the pile the winner of the round. The Peon collects the played cards, and the winner starts a new round. As stated before, a player that empty's their hand is considered finish, gaining a position that for the next game. This is easier said than done with big groups, remember who finished third or fourth, but you can rely on the Dalmuti to sort out any conflicts as that player always knows when they have finished.
Card counting is a trick that you will utilise when your hand is not up to snuff. Where as if you're the Dalmuti, you can normally play the cards willy nilly and win. Judging when to pass and jump back in to snatch the win, making you the lead player is a skill that can be overlooked in all the fun. You'll need to be aware of how many cards the others have left, because if everyone passes, you may not get the chance to steal the lead. And you may even force the player to your right to win a round, just so they can start the new one with some higher cards, giving you the possibility of removing a few from your hand. There are so many slight little things that you can do that can swing the game in your direction, so the game doesn't feel like, the luck of the draw. You see one player is down to two cards and a possibility of becoming the next Dalmuti, you play you 11's. All four of them. You know that they wont be out this round. Then maybe someone else can hold that player up in the next round.
Power comes from the numbers. If you have been dealt a large number of one value, this can be great. As in one play, you remove a chunk of your hand in one swoop. Or it may not help at all as the other players play their sets of 2 or 3 cards, diminishing their hands slowly but surly. You'll then be tempted to break this large group of same numbered cards into smaller groups, just to you can play something this round. The Jokers do the reverse of this. A Joker can be added to a number of cards and disguise itself as that number. One minute you have three 3's in your hand, play it with the Joker and you now have four 3's. If your lucky to get a one of these, they add a little advantage but also a handicap. If played alone, they are a value of a 13. So saving them can hinder if that is the only card you have left. But sneaking them into another group, especially if it helps you win the round, is a great feeling. An even greater feeling that the Jokers can provide is a 'Revolution.'
In the Taxation phase, if a player has the pleasure of owning both Jokers, they can overthrow the government. If they wish. This throws the balance of power on it's head as all player change their position with the player of their polar opposite. In other word, the Peon becomes the Dalmuti and vice versa. And ever player in between does the same. Which is great if your at the low end of the food chain, but not so if you are in the higher echelons of power.
Leaving the game after playing your final cards will give you your position for the next hand. Being first will automatically make you the Dalmuti, second the Vice, all the way down to the last, who becomes the Peon. Or retains that same post, due to the bad hand of cards they couldn't get rid of. This game is a struggle for those at the bottom of this power struggle, but they will be totally overwhelmed to move up a post from hand to hand. Or even jump straight to the top position, without the help of a revolution. So far, so card game...
The party game part comes from the fact that the new Dalmuti gets to sit in their chair while the other players change places, depending on where they finished. A kind of musical chairs that places the new Peon on the right of the majestic “D” and then beckon to whatever they crave. And the fun can mount if insults are spray by those in power and if you inject props into the game. Giving the Dalmuti a crown and the Peon a baseball cap just adds the the ambiance.
All in all, as a family, we love this game. It's simplicity to play works great for the young players, who many not see the card counting as essential. While older players will grasp the concept as they have played similar traditional card games. We love this game. No scoring is necessary, we play it until we are bored. It's nothing much to look at though. It's cards. And they even deteriorate with multiple plays, much like mine in the images. The art itself is nothing spectacular and adds nothing to the game. The theme is weak if you play it flatly as a card game. You need the swap chairs. You need to role play. And you definitely need props. Shame there was none in the game, even if is was a badge or folded hat.
One of the greatest games on my shelf. One that I would drop anything in an instant to play. Shame it is not technically a great production, but some of the best games don't need to. Think, Werewolf.
Technical score 6/10
My BGG score 9/10
Combined score 7.5/10
There's no pirate like an old pirate
Golden oldies. Family favourites. Or as we now call them in the board game world, “Evergreens.” Games that are as old as our oldest child, or one of the first that got you hooked on the hobby (that made you part with copious amounts of money, trying to keep up with the fashion) are having a bit of a revival. As more and more of us can't catch up with the speed of which the market is growing. And we'd rather play a game that we know well. Or play without reading another rule book just to learn what this die result will do with that card effect. So we revert back to an older game, one that still feels fresh, even to this day. Hence the term “Evergreens.”
One of mine is the old pirate racing game by Bruno Cathala, Jamaica. An 11 year old game, that is classed as a roll and move (think Snakes and Ladders). With outstanding components that are still highly regarded by today's standards. It's simple nature of pirate ships racing around the island of Jamaica, while collecting food, cannons and gold, to keep moving in the game and score points when a player crossed the finish line. Although it's not a true roll and move, where you throw dice and advance the number of pips displayed. One player will have the honer of being the dice chucker and then allocate one of the two dice to a morning action and the other to a night time action. Players simultaneously pick a card from their small hand of cards that depicts the actions they wish to do in the day and night. These actions range from moving forward, loading food, looting gold, loading cannons and even moving backwards. Depending if this icon is in the left corner of the card or right will designate whether it's a morning or night time action. Then all players, in turn order preform those actions. So you may loot 3 gold in the morning the move forward 5 spaces. Or load 3 cannons in the morning then 5 food at night. Some fun can be had if you miss play cards that cause a little headache for you. But brings laughter to all at the table, as you move forward 3 spaces... Then back 5.
Here is my original review
This is a game, that contains some luck from rolling dice and card draws, but not as much as the reputation of “Roll 'n Move” is infamous for. Careful planing and calculating can be effective as well as playing cautiously. And because of the familiar mechanics, this is a game that I have introduced to many new player to. Young and old, experienced and not. Everyone has picked it up with ease and had great pleasure playing. Especially when their teacher, who was leading, falls behind because they mixed up the number of pips on the dice. (Forward 1. Back 6. Nuf said) So when news of it's first and only expansion "The Crew" hit my ears, this was a definite “must have” box for my shelf.
So, what does this box add to the game, I love. Well, sad to say...not much. But is that a bad thing?
Technically, all of the components could have been on cards and squeezed into a box, the size of your fist. You wouldn't be missing anything as the game could still function. But this comes in a box the same size as the original game, minus half the thickness. There is a small deck of new treasure cards that replace the base game deck. This new deck is full of treasures (points) and curses (negative points), removing all the special power cards that help in combat or let you draw more cards. But don't panic, as there are “the crew” tiles, who carry these original powers, plus a bucket load more ability's.
99 bottles of rum on the wall...
The big box holds an insert that resembles the deck of a ship. Some stairs in the box, lead up to the deck, where you'll place a wooden rum bottle (well, what else would it be!) All the new crew tiles can be found loitering about the deck, face down. Except the tiles adjacent the rum, which are revealed. These tiles slip into the insert, that can easily pop up from their individual spaces, by applying a little pressure from your finger. Aesthetically, this part of the game looks fantastic and holds up to the base game in terms of quality. From the character designs and the box art that resembles a book. Boat. Book. Boat...I can't decide. Everything is stunning. The rule book explains everything clearly, although on a fold out poster. Many people were unhappy with the original games “map” like rule book, that was like unfolding a...map!
there she sails...ahrrrr!
How does this change the game? The game functions like normal. You'll still be racing around the island, collecting treasure or cursed treasure. Paying food to your crew to stay in a spaces and paying dock fees to stay in port. But it's while you are birthed in these ports that you can acquire a new member to your team. You will have a choice to recruit one of the face up crew members, next to the rum bottle. There are total of 20 characters, each with a power, gold value if you win the race and value if you don't. They fall into 5 different categories, that you can identify from the 5 different colours on the back of their tile. Some help in combat, some with gold. Some at moving your ship, some at paying costs and finally magic. Which is some very wild powers. In fact, one of those voodoo swinging magicians has the ability to win the game instantly if they posses 3 cursed treasures.
you're gonna need a bigger boat
Taking on a crew member is a big choice that was not in the original game. Normally you'd pick a treasure card and it would contain a power that you could use, without a penalty. Loading a character on your ship means you are actually loading them onto your ship. They take up a space in your hold, meaning you'll have less spaces for carrying cargo. Taking on several crew will clog up your inventory, making it more of a analytical puzzle for you to navigate the sea currents. But this may be the risk you take. The right combinations of powers may help you sail to victory, or not. As each character has two gold values that you add to your score at the end of the game. One of those values is for you if you arrive at Port Royal first. The other value you get added to your score if you don't cross the line, which can still help push you to a victory, as gold equals points. And it all seems well balanced as some of the really powerful pirates you can recruit have little to no gold value. Possibly a negative value too. Good news is that any crew member that you have can be jettisoned overboard at anytime. Following the normal rules, you can dump something from your hold as long as you replace it with something different. Therefore, if you feel you have no chance of winning the race, it might be worth loading up one crate of food just to throw The Witch into the big blue.
splittin' up da booty
Having this Caribbean cast of characters is definitely advantageous to the game, giving you choice of powers, instead of randomly being dealt them. As the game goes on, you'll have the ability to influence the bottle and move it around the deck by paying gold. Although costly, you might not find a power useful until halfway through the game. The downside is that there are a lot of new icons to learn and the first few game, you will be referring to the rule book. Plus a bonus to having the box insert is, it can be handed around the table for those that can't see their choices. As opposed to the small deck of cards idea I had earlier. Which would make the annoying for those seated far away in a six player game.
The Crew is a board game expansion