Saturday, August 1, 2009


Subject: Geography
Category: Maps
Ages: 8 and up
# of players: 2 to 4
Time to play: 30 to 45 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: Pick up and deliver; Simultaneous Action Selection

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 3 (excellent map)
Gaming value: 4
Aesthetic value: 4
Price value: 4
Ease of play: 4
Younger adaptability: 3

My comments: This is a cut-throat game, no doubt, fitting in well with the pirate theme. Players bribe (with barrels of rum) six pirate ships (their names beginning with the letters A through F) to capture and deliver treasure chests. Players have bidding tiles, one each from -1 to 5. Each round players decide how much rum to bid for all the ships by placing each card rum barrel card in a tray labeled with all the ship names, leaving one tie-breaking tile left over. Starting with A (for Aribba) players reveal their bid, and the highest bidder gets control of that ship. You move the ship as many spaces as barrels of rum you bid, minus any -1 cards your opponent may have played. You pick up treasure by sailing to a port, or by stealing it from another ship. If the ship moves into a square of your color, you get the gold. After A ship is moved, bids for the B ship are revealed, and so on. The first player to capture so much gold (based on the number of players) wins the game.

The game not only involves anticipating what other players might do but also a lot of abstract strategy to figure out if it is better to do a straight move to a harbor and then to your color, or to use a less-sought-after ship to steal it off another. The gaming value will far outlast it's educational value.

The board is an attractive, realistic map depicting the Caribean and all the major port cities, although countries are not named, nor are their boarders shown. The ships are neat and can be taken apart for flat storage but they do not always stay together well. The treasure chests are very small and can be difficult to read. They are thick cardboard, as are the rum barrel tiles, with colorful designs.

Minimal reading is involved, but the bidding process makes the game are to adapt to younger players, though they'll want to play with the ships. You can get this game for just under $20, making it a good value given it's attractive components and long game life. link to this game:

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