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Board Meetings by Rory .j Somers - 10M ago

Ruthless, from Alley Cat Games is very much like a firework.  Not the type of firework that goes off randomly at 11:36pm on a Thursday night in March, waking the dog up, and thus you.  No, Ruthless is like a firework in that despite the fact you’ve played many other deck builders, this one will make you go “Ooohhh”, like you do when watching fireworks, despite having seen many fireworks go off before.

I mean yes, it is very, very, very pretty to look at and let’s face it, the incredible box art is one of the reasons you picked it from the shelf, it’s the reason you had a look for a review to help validate your choice in-game purchase.  Rest assured the Ooohhing only starts with the artwork.

Simply put, you’ll win if you have the most notoriety after a number of rounds.  You’ll claim these Notoriety Points after each round if you have the strongest crew, the strongest crew being the best poker-style hand of cards.

You’ll play doubloons from your hand to trade them in for coins, use the coins to hire pirates from the Tavern to add to your play area and then your deck (or if you want to be thematic to your Deck and your deck).   You can use your Powder Monkeys (part of your starting hand) to bury those cards you don’t want anymore or use them to explore for Treasure, or even just send them to have a punch-up in the Tavern and get rid of the card you know your opponent wants.  So far, so deck builder.

Once all players have used their hand of cards, the pirates are mustered.  The new ones that have now been fully initiated into your crew, and those that you played throughout your turn, are now all arranged to be the meanest bunch of salty sea dogs to ever take to the waves…and by this, I mean arranged neatly into pairs, or straights or flushes, because pirates always look scarier when they are colour coordinated with the one another #TrueStory

From the outset, it all seems so simple, so straightforward, but each pirate card is not only going to be part of a rank system, nor part of a suit, but the pirates, when played or recruited will spring into action.  These actions make the main body of the game, adding both an internal conflict and to the player interaction: you’ll be able to attack your opponent, forcing them to lose cards; you’ll be able to retrieve cards lost to your discard; pick up extra coins or treasure; basically, loads of stuff.  It is this combination of rank, suit, and ability that makes Ruthless so enjoyable.

With every card played you’ll have to think about the long and short-term tactics, and in a slightly uncharacteristic fashion, these pirates are ushering you to think that way each time they are played. Their worth is only realised in the company they keep, their individual ability, although very “powerful” can only become a strategy if you have others of the same suit or rank, as ultimately it is the scoring that matters.

The final scoring naturally matters most, but noteworthy here that it isn’t necessarily the round winners that win the game. You know that saying about losing a battle to win the war?  Each game can be littered with winners.  In the end, you can lose, but not feel robbed, remembering that round where you scored 25 points with that mega flush.  With this comes a sense of achievement, of knowing that for at least one round your deck worked!  Just not often enough.

With any deck builder, there is the opportunity for optimisation, for finding the combinations of cards that just work well together, so if that is your cup of tea then Ruthless certainly won’t disappoint. But as cards of the same rank don’t all have the same ability, you’ll realise quickly that your plans need to be able to pivot, twist and parry like any good swashbuckler.  There is no card that is universally better than another, sure the higher ranking cards often offer some more powerful actions, and the Captain and Quartermaster also come with their own Notoriety Points, but—just as with poker—ace high is a rubbish hand.

I rarely find myself hunting and hoping for that one elusive card, Ruthless gives you options hand over hook, which cards to play and in which order, how to best use the pirate cards in your hand and how quickly can you buy that one you need.  Each round is made up of these tiny little choices, tiny little costs and that’s how this game will get under your skin.  From the outset, the plan is simple, but each step along that path is paved with seemingly innocuous choices.  Even the flipping treasure cards have a choice!  This all contributes to an overarching structure of action for the game, which despite all these little decisions you’ll be making, the pace never slows, the drama of the game builds turn by turn.

There’s a pseudo-narrative here, with the first two rounds being all set-up as players need to recruit quickly and heavily, and as you move into the middle of the game, the action and interaction heats up.  Now your recruiting, treasure hunting and blocking is more focused, more deliberate.  This all builds (hopefully) for the final act, as all those loose strands are pulled together, tightly bound in fortune and planning to create a concrete tactic and well-balanced deck, but it’s one that has grown naturally with you in the game.

Ruthless manages to feel familiar and new all at once, deftly dodging that games-ja-vu feeling and instead hits that sweet spot of familiarity without drowning in its theme or core mechanic.  It has an exciting and engaging arc as you turn a bunch of Powder Monkeys and a few doubloons into a dynamic and rollicking band of pirates with enough variety to grant a multitude of options for any play style.  The familiarity makes the game very easy to teach, the artwork makes it look great on the table and the mix of mechanics will convince you that next game your deck will be that little bit better.

Ruthless is available to pre-order now through the publisher’s website (or designer’s for non-English versions of the game as well as some extra bling for your copy of it) and will be available at Essen in October.

This review is based on a prototype copy of the game provided by the publisher, as such the final contents may vary – in fact they certainly will.

This review was first seen on Polyhedron Collider

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Board Meetings by Rory .j Somers - 1y ago

Boardgames are not like chocolates. They have very few things in common, however. However, much like that familiar Gumpism; with some boardgames, you never know what you’re going to get. Thus, a new boardgame term is coined: The Chocolate Box Game. Star Scrappers: Cave-In from Hexy Studios is my first Chocolate Box Game.

The box art features a surly looking sci-fi bloke reaching for a sci-fi glowing thing, while typical sci-fi looking robots are in the background doing sci-fi stuff. Flip the box over and you’ll see it’s a modular board and with cards, and the description will tell you that you’ll be mining crystals (the board) using mercenaries (the cards) and also that you’ll have to be mindful about being attacked/raided by other players. The premise of the game is very simple, in fact, the game itself is pretty straightforward. Your goal is to collect as many crystals and in as great an array as possible. You’ll do this by playing cards that colour match those crystals and where their combined total power equals or exceeds the value of the token you’re after.

This is much like the back of a chocolate box telling you that the ingredients are cocoa, milk and sugar.

As a Chocolate Box Game (look, I’m making it a thing ok, #ChocolateBoxGame) what you get inside the box is far more than this. Cave-In, on my first play, caused lots of the those “Oh that’s interesting” moments. There is a deck drafting element to this game, a set collection angle and a sort-of programming thing going on too. But, these are all just small parts of the bigger whole and it does each of these things just ever-so-slightly different to what is “normal” and to what I was expecting. For one thing, the crystals are really the reward, mining them is actually very easy, getting to the point where you can do that, well, that’s different.

“So how do we get new cards?” was the first question asked after player one had taken their turn.  Well, there are two ways. The “Nice and Slow” or “Fast and Nasty”. One of the actions a player can take is to recruit just one mercenary from the docks, paying the cost by a card in hand that is one rank lower. But as you can only do this action once, and for the biggest crystals you’ll need to equal 10, this is a very arduous way of drafting your “deck”. The faster, more erratic way is to Raid your opponents. This method wins you all but the top card of their discard pile. But, it’s the only thing you can do that turn, and because you didn’t draft/choose the cards yourself, it means you are essentially playing out of someone else’s pocket.

The rulebook calls it a ‘Raid’, invariably, we were calling it ‘Attack’, but actually it’s more like ‘Head Hunting’. Why bother regaling you with this distinction, well, because there is an interesting (and slightly masochistic) twist in that you can ‘Raid’ yourself, re-circling those spent cards back into your hand, which sounds great if you’ve got loads of good cards, but, timing, or rather; the sequence, is everything. Cards played don’t go into your discard pile straight away. They go from hand to table, and then once everyone has taken their turn, they are then added to the discard pile. This is important because in the turn you play all your good cards, you are basically advertising your wares to your opponents: those cards will be in your discard pile next turn and be ripe for the picking. Turn order comes into play here, but so does the hand limit.

I’ve called it a deck drafting, but really it’s just a hand of seven cards, with up to another seven in your discard pile. Hardly a deck, by any stretch of the definition because of this re-circling aspect to the cards; Cave-In creates this “collective deck” between all players, which will be completely unique each game, even if the same factions are used, as it will depend upon how players recruit and interact with one another. The cascading cards means that the concept of ownership is smudged and muddied too. You can recruit the merc you know an opponent wants, but unless you plan on keeping it in your hand, they’ll be able to pinch it in a turn or two. This creates a sense of movement, of fleeting fluidity, that you’ll have to work with what you’ve got now because it could all change very quickly.

There is also something rather brilliant going on with the discard pile, the phase of a turn is to put all played cards in your discard pile, once you hit 7 cards, those on the bottom of the pile are removed from the game – which is a nice way of thinning out those starting weaker cards without having to spend an action or time doing it. The last card on the deck is your Leader, this means that their special ability kicks in at the start of your next turn. Low-level cards will let grab the appropriate coloured crystal, but the higher-ups, they can play a pivot role in your tactics. It feels like the natural order of board games has been subverted, “But, but, I’ve used it. I’ve discarded it. What do you mean I use it…again?” I know, I know, calm down, it’s okay. This double whammy of programming style card-play was a standout feature of the game for me, it really caused every player to stop and really think, not just about their short-term goal of this term, but their next, and the one after that. Weighing up the potential reactions of their opponents. The ability to plan ahead in any strategy game is vital to success but rarely does a game guide you on the process like this does.

You’ve mined, recruited and even picked up a useful artefact or two but now the mine rumbles its imminent collapse. In short, the endgame is brought about by the mine collapsing – hence the name of the game. You’ll advance along the Cave-In track each time any resource deck or pile is depleted, with some crystals adding to it too. This rather nicely pulls the game together, creating a funnel of action as, to begin with there seems no threat, but soon, that treat of collapse is all too real.

You’ll gain victory points in various ways; mostly through mining crystals but it feels a little more fiddly than it may need to be, especially given the flow of the game, the allocation of points seems jarring; each time I’ve played we’ve resorted to grabbing a piece of paper and pen to tally everything up. One of the best ways to score points though is by collecting crystals with symbols markings, collecting a full set of six will seriously bolster your score, if you are fortunate enough to get a few partial sets too and you are laughing. However, the scoring of these sets seems so big that it forces play in that direction and only that direction, to the point where it doesn’t seem to matter what else you have collected en-route to this finale, as long as you have a set or two, this also devalues the “normal” crystals somewhat too, making them feel more like an inconvenience that they are there instead of their higher point scoring kin.

This #ChocolateBoxGame surprised me when it first hit the table, the novel approach to the discard deck and the lingering power held within it, the cascading and collaborative pool of cards used really caught my attention and these aspects of the game that will still be there next time it comes down from the shelf. I love the way this game encourages you to think and plan, how you can play this game either defensively, aggressively or very fluidly and still get a lot out of each experience.

This review was based on a retail edition of the game provided by the publisher.

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Board Meetings by Rory .j Somers - 1y ago

Those of us who lack the always enviable skill of artistry, especially that skill of painting can rejoice, finally, that there is now an alternative to colour-by-numbers and those adult colouring books (which failed my expectation on the adult front) with Sunset Over Water, a lightweight, quick game of painting landscape masterpieces and selling them off.

Warning: This review was written with a thesaurus close at hand, primarily used for synonyms of charming and delightful, because, well, Sunset Over Water is both charming and delightful.  Indeed, you will be enchanted by the simplicity of the rules, and you’ll find the artwork presented on the landscape cards to be quite enchanting, but there is more to this game than meets the eye, in fact, you’ll have a very jolly, if not somewhat twee and bohemian time playing this little gem.

For this game, you need not a beret, paintbrush, easel or pallet, just your eight little action cards and your colour matched lazy-arsed, yet fetching artist meeple, posed sitting down, staring off into space not really doing anything.

Twenty-five landscape cards are arranged in a five by five grid, a number of art studios (one more than there are players) advertise for specific commissions, and then there are the typically artistic daily goals to be attempted.  Now, before you start playing the game take a moment to stop and smell the roses-look at this tremendous and beautiful artwork, then consider the very accessible, easily understandable and yet utterly understated graphics present on the top left of each card.  Sunset Over Water is a simple, beautiful and graceful set collection game, that wants you to take your time with it, to enjoy each turn and minute spent playing.

Each turn you’ll draw three of your action cards, select one and once all players are ready you’ll reveal that chosen card.  A neat aspect here is that the two you rejected are placed at the bottom of the deck, in the order of your choosing, meaning they will reoccur in a later turn, or as they are amusingly referred to in this game, days, making the game six days long.  These action cards dictate the time of the day you’ll awaken (turn order), which direction you’ll hike with a canvas under the arm, and how productive you’ll be by the number of landscapes you’ll paint.  These cards all have typically varying limitations such as an early start but not much movement and only one painting, against sleeping until noon and still managing to paint three lovely landscapes.

The simplicity of these choices and the scope for error are engagingly juxtaposed, you’re all working towards the same commissions, you can all see the same possibilities, your previous positioning in the play space, the cards you declined for later use all come together in a fascinating mixing pot.  And those days fly by, the actions, once chosen are rapid with commissions flying out at a sometimes-alarming rate-particularly for the artist that had a lie-in.

Sunset Over Water does apply a soothing balm for the last player though, that although may not feel like much at the time (each Daily goal is worth but a lowly 2 prestige points) these soon stack up.  Awarded for the player to last perform an action, such as move horizontally, or to end in a corner: always the last player tough.  This catch-up mechanic does feel very, well, mechanical and so stands out a little from the otherwise delightful and unobtrusive rule set but is a necessary system within the game.

The captivating artwork that I have gushed about all through this review, is, however, not beyond critique; the one simple flaw being its duplication. On the one hand, I can appreciate that sixty unique cards would have had an impact on the price, but there is a small pang of disappointment often accompanied by an audible “Oh” when the same landscape artwork occurs on adjacent cards.  It’s like going to the sandwich fridge at the shop, seeing it fully stocked but then realising it has only Tuna Cucumber and Egg Mayo available – yes, they’re sandwiches, and yes, they’ll do the job, but one cannot help but be a little dissatisfied, and left wanting just a little bit more; like a coronation chicken, or maybe something with pickle.

Sunset Over Water also sports a solo mode, which I was pleased to see in a game that is about a very solitary pursuit, and happier still to find it an equally absorbing puzzle – this mode introduces a vexing variability to the available commissions by way of the alarm clock system used in the multiplayer, and Ranger Stations which cannot be painted but are one of the few ways to replace the vacant slots from previously painted landscapes.

This pleasingly minimalistic set-up from simple, yet considered insert makes Sunset Over Water very quick and easy to set up, and more importantly, to refresh – which given the brevity of this game is, I think, is a huge part of its appeal.  This game is very light, offering fun and interesting choices in small doses.  I cannot help but feel the similarity between this and Splendor, not that this is a contender to that game’s shelf space, but it feels like a relative to that modern classic.  There is little in common mechanically, really but there is that sense of familiarity between them.

A game about painting pictures, should, and in this case, does, have artwork at its very fore – making the game hugely accessible and I really wouldn’t be surprised to see this box soon gracing the shelves of a Waterstones or Borders near you.  It certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the gift shop of an art museum either, albeit a more forward-thinking one.  It is light, quick fun, with enough allure to make it a welcome visitor to my gaming table again and again.  With a theme and art that really is alluring, this game can be introduced and enjoyed by new or veteran gamers, young or old.

This review first appeared on Polyhedron Collider.

This review was based on a full priced retail edition paid for out of my own money from my own pocket.

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On Saturday 2nd June, at approximately 2 pm somewhere near Birmingham International airport, I liaised with a tall mysterious Polish man and three other rookie sleuths to find evidence to support the claim that when playing Portal’s Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame “You are not playing a detective; you ARE a detective!”

This is all the board you get with this game

My ‘demo’ game of Detective covered the first of five assignments and covered the first four days of working a much larger and overarching case. With this game not only are you (hopefully) solving crimes, but you are also telling an elaborate and complex story, where each choice branches off to reveal or hide more. The first case sets into motion events and leads that will run throughout the entire campaign, weaving and telling an epic tale of murder, betrayal and adventure.

Jaffa Cakes not included

Now, I’m not one for listing components of boardgames, but in this instance, it’s worth noting that the board, tokens and pawns you get with this game are largely left to one side. In fact, you don’t even really need a table to play this game on (we used Ignacy’s hotel bed), a deck of cards (one deck per scenario) a laptop, and lots and lots of paper is what will take centre stage. It was recommended to us that one player looks after the board, tokens and cards, another be the key computer operator and that we have a narrator and a scribe to take notes but I’d recommend that EVERYONE take notes, you’ll also want your phone nearby. Why have this division of labour? Why describe these aspects of a recreational activity as labour? Well, once this game gets going, it gets a little full-on, especially for the scribe.

Needless to say, a bad thing has happened and to begin with you’re presented with three options, interview person A or person B, or take evidence to the lab. The only resource that you really have to manage in this game is time, you have eight hours a day, and only four days to crack the case, what and—perhaps more importantly—how you get to your answers comes down to how you manage it.

Listening very closely to every word spoken

The deck of cards, through which you‘ll be exploring this world, will also be the biggest cost to each day. Each is marked with a unique hashtag number representing another ‘lead’ or avenue of investigation. They’ll also come with a location; which takes valuable time to travel to and the task at hand which—depending on the difficulty—takes time to complete. You’ll find other clues along your way, such as the @ symbol where you’ll enter data into the game’s online mock Antares police database. You’ll access lab results, crime reports, and profiles of suspects, witnesses and officers, and it all looks very cool and nifty. Finally, you have what was one of my highlights, the Wi-Fi symbol. This is where you’ll literally have to Google something. This game takes place in the real world, so as much as some might not like the idea of using a computer or phone to play a game, it is not only essential here, but doing so further grounds this game in reality.

At points throughout the game you can delve, dig and press, in other words, go that little bit harder and further to get your answers. This will allow you to flip a card, read an extra report etc. but these all have an additional cost of skills, something that can only be used once per case….and you kind of need to use them, in fact, you’ll find very quickly you’ll need to use them all the time. With every card drawn or flipped, with each entry on the computer and Wikipedia entry read you’ll come out with more questions than answers, more choices and less time.

Using the database to look up suspects and persons of interest

Unlike any other board game I’ve ever played, what Detective gives you in spades is an invitation to come in. What you as a person, an individual can bring to this game, this experience, can and will dramatically shift the game experience for everyone playing. This game of “who-done-it” is not a case of lining up prescribed dots that have been left under a rock for you to find. Far from it. You as players, as people in the room, are given information that you then have to stitch together to form the solution. Things you, yes you, dear reader know about performing an emergency stop on a wet road, or self-defence, or assistance animals might all of a sudden become very useful and insightful. (Please note that I may, or may not have made those examples up).

I only got to read one card…it wasn’t a good card

“What about replay value?” I hear you ask, well, this doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Since Detective takes you on a story, once you reach the end and know the outcome, you can never truly “unknow” it. However, you can still explore the route to that end. One investigation can differ widely from another all depending on who you talk to and what you do. For some, those that are happy to re-watch films, and re-read their favourite books, Detective will continue to deliver even once the mystery is solved. For others, you’ll simply get around fifteen great hours of gaming.

I mention that the board itself is kept to one side while you play this, it’s because Detective is more than a board game. The board, the cards and counters they are simply platforms for this grand experience. Is it then more like an RPG, or a choose your own adventure? I’m afraid that will have to be for you to decide, all I can do here is present the facts. What I can tell you for sure though, is that for me, playing Detective was one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had.

The master sleuths all together post game!

You can pre-order Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame from Portal Games.

This review was first published on Polyhedron Collider this version just has some extra pictures, courtesy of fellow sleuth Gareth from Board Game Meeple

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Board Meetings by Rory .j Somers - 1y ago

Publisher: Façade Games

Designer: Travis Hancock

Artist: Sarah Keele

Players: 2 – 7

Run Time: 20 – 40 mins

A dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.” – Jack Sparrow, on the issue of hidden role board games.

You’re right, sorry; Captain Jack Sparrow.

There is little doubt or argument that Walt Disney and Johnny Depp made Pirates cool[er] again…a least for a little while, until the whole Mermaid thing – anyway.

Pirates = awesome.

Boardgames = awesome.

Boardgames that look like books = erm…

So, what else could a triple-decker awesome sandwich be, other than timber shiveringly awesome? Ladies and gentlemen, polish your brass monkeys, as I present to you a review of Tortuga 1667 from Facade Games.

You’ll play as a dubiously real pirate, in and around the island of Tortuga in, well 1667. You’ll hop back and forth between the Flying Dutchman, the isle itself and the Jolly Roger all in an attempt to horde as much of the treasure in the hold belonging to you and your countrymen. However, you don’t know who your countrymen are. Also, the whole hoarding thing is a little bit tricky, as it depends where you are, who you are and, who is with you.

This game has a smattering of worker placement, area control, variable player powers, bidding, and hidden roles to label just a few of the core mechanics. If that sounds like jumble ingredients doomed to failure then you are in for a pleasant and sweet surprise because it is the blending of these that makes this game worthy of your gaming table and shelf.

Picture this, you’re on a ship in the bay of Tortuga, across the halcyon blue waters are two other ships. One with loads of gold, the other bustling with another group or unruly pirates. Now, if you’re the captain (taking the number one spot on the ship) you can order an attack against it to try and get some of that treasure. If you’re the first Mate (number two spot), you can try and mutiny against your captain and dispatch him to the Island. If you are the very last in the line on the ship, you’re the Cabin Boy (Roger!), and you can shift one of the treasure chests from the French hold to the British hold or vice versa. With the exception of the cabin boy, everything comes down to a vote (I know, I know, these must be the most democratic bunch of pirates in the history of Piracy) where everyone (except the captain during a mutiny) on the ship gets to cast their vote, plus the top card of the Vote Deck. Failures don’t do any harm, except potentially reveal whose side you’re on. Successes result in capturing a treasure chest- and then placing it in a hold (careful now), or you get promoted. But may also reveal whose side you’re on.

About this voting business, it’s not quite as clear-cut as saying “yay” or “nay”, your hand of just three Vote cards dictate how you’re going to vote on any one of the three viable actions: Attacking, Brawling (vying for control of the island) and Mutinying. An attack needs at least one cannon and one torch – where each bucket of water nullifies a torch. The brawl action is either British or French flags, suggesting who piles into the fight to half-inch the treasure, and Mutinying boils down to a steering wheel or skull and crossbones (obviously). What makes this interesting is that depending on the action, your allegiance and perhaps, more importantly, the allegiance you are trying to present, you can only vote with the cards you have in hand. And you have to vote (hand management, there’s another mechanic for you). This creates an interesting mix, as there are cards you really want to keep for your actions, your plan, but you have to vote when called upon, and that can mean giving up a card you want for a result that might favour you, use a card you don’t want to hang on to, but in doing so you’re either sending the “right” message about your allegiance, or the “wrong” one.

If that wasn’t interesting enough, you’ve also got the Event Cards, a whole deck of them, and these set the pace for the game. The game-ending card – the Spanish Armada – hidden at the bottom. Until that card turns up though, there is a whole deck of shenanigans to get through, and most of these are varying degrees of bad, from the innocently named albatross to the ominous Black Spot. How you get these cards is one of my favourite parts of this game, in your turn, regardless of where on the board you are, you can interact with these cards in a couple of interesting ways. You can look at any two of these cards, you can demand that another player chooses between any two cards, or you can reveal one yourself. Knowing, and keeping track of these cards is almost like a metagame that goes on throughout, this part of Tortuga is about memory, manipulation and backstabbing.

On top of all of this, you’re trying to figure out who everyone is.

Being a hidden roles game, there is the potential downfall of it being very easy to suss out who is on which side, but, I’ve found that to be hugely player dependant. How good you are at lying, bluffing, and how much of a risk you are prepared to take as that deck whittles down. The deck acts not only as a countdown to the end of the game but to a player’s plans. Remaining hidden is of the utmost importance in this game, but you want to strike that delicate balance of also finding out who is on your side. When its crunch time, you need to ensure that you can shift that treasure quickly, you need to know who you can rely on, and who you throw overboard. Be wary of the honest ones!

There is, however, an elephant on the boat, and I think a much-needed caveat when it comes to playing this game: the player count. Technically, it plays two to seven people. Technically. But at two players it is kind of a drag, your actions are pretty prescribed. Three players is much the same. At four you get a big ol’ chunk of flavour. At five it is like you’re playing a different game, but at seven (I know I missed six, get over it), at seven this game is rollicking good fun!

Tortuga 1667 relies on, and flat out requires player and social interaction, so with more players, there is more of that, thus more fun. Further to this, the game becomes more volatile, swaying a vote becomes harder, and more involved. The odd player is Dutch, winning if the English and French draw, it is a brilliant twist on a hidden roles game that I’ve not seen before and Tortuga pulls it off with style. The variability and independence of the Dutch player can have massive consequences, and if played right can hold the tide of the battle in their hands.

And talking of style, I hope that my photos of this game do it justice. The game, the box, the board, art, components everything is flat-out gorgeous. And yet, manages to never feel over produced. It is tight, succinct and comes in at around £25. The neoprene playing ‘board’ juxtaposed by the simple, almost old-fashioned pawns is quite simply delightful.

Tortuga 1667 is one of my favourite games of 2017; it does everything a really good game needs to do. It gets you thinking, gets you interacting and playing. You never feel like you don’t have a choice of actions, and whatever you do you’ll be moving towards your ever approaching the goal. Ultimately the game comes down to being able to carefully balance subterfuge with careful, planned strikes against those players you think/hope are your enemy. Played at the higher player count this game will not fail to entertain and enthral, and oh my, doesn’t it look very pretty on your shelf.

This review was based on a full priced Kickstarter campaign at the Early Bird pledge level.  

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