Tag Archives: pirates

Kickstart Your Weekend – #2 – 22.11.13

Another week and another whole bunch of Kickstarter projects are unleashed! Every Friday The Little Metal Dog Show looks at some of the new and exciting games that have arrived on the site and attempts to draw your attention towards them… Here’s this week’s selection.

1. Pirates!

Pirates

Kickstarter is has now moved to Australia, and Pirates was one of the first projects to launch celebrating this fact. Pirates is a card and dice game where the players must seize glory as they sail the seven seas – so much so “we’ve heard this before Michael, get on with it”. However, unlike a lot of games where you’re already established as a villain, Pirates seems to start you with the barest of set-ups then sees you actually progress. Gaining extra weapons and upgrading your vessel is the order of the day as you take down merchants aplenty. Sure, it seems to be filled with tropes and is a little factually incorrect (pirates were actually very democratic, you know), but when did facts ever get in the way of a good game? Pick up a copy for $40 AUD which works out at around £23 GBP!

2. Wands

Wands COVER

Billing itself as a combination of Magic: The Gathering and UNO (don’t run away, it seems OK!), Wands is a simple to play magical battle game which is way simpler than your average CCG. By casting spells  and counterspells, you’re looking to take your opponent down to zero health. Blasts help you along the way, superpowered unstoppable spells that are rare but ever so useful! The thing that really grabbed me about Wands though? The graphical style totally jumps out, with fantastic, crazy looking art from Lindsay Lea. It looks to play in a pretty simple fashion, but would work well as a little filler when you’re waiting about for another game to finish.

3. Elevenses – The Card Game of Morning Tea

Elevenses

Look at that title. Then look at the box. WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT THIS GAME IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Another release from Australia, this time Sydney’s Adventureland Games, I don’t think there’s ever been a game based around this subject. Players begin the game with the same set of cards, each of which has its own power – the lower the number, the greater the power – and look to serve up the best morning tea . By placing cards in specific locations, sugar cubes are handed out and rounds are won should you happen to have the most when an Elevenses card is played. I’m getting a bit of a Love Letter vibe from this one – simple rules, simple gameplay, but a splendid way to pass the time. Just like having a brew!

4. Brew Crafters

Brew BOARD

And on the subject of brews, how about something a little stronger? Dice Hate Me Games have just under three days left on their Brew Crafters campaign. Designed by Ben Rosset, players run their own microbreweries and attempt to construct the tastiest ales, lagers and stouts they can. Using a bit of worker placement, you’ll be looking to get your hands on the finest ingredients and turn out the very best brews in this game that reckons it’s “Euro Style, American Finish”. As always with DHM Games, the production is through the roof with beautiful illustrations throughout, mini-expansions built into the game from the start… Utterly lovely, and yours for a $60 pledge ($75 if you’re outside the US).

5. Pandante

Pandante STUFF

David Sirlin is a guy who knows a thing or two about games. Having been responsible for Yomi, the fantastic card game that worked like a 2D beat-’em-up, as well as the awesome Puzzle Strike, he’s now back with a game that involves… gambling pandas? Taking Texas Hold ‘Em as a starting point, he’s developed a game that uses a lot of the same rules (so there’s a lot of familiarity in there) but added in special powers and abilities to spice things up a little. Players can bluff about the cards they hold, others can accuse them of lying… it all sounds very boisterous and splendid. Get yourself in on this for $30.

And that’s it for this week! If you’re running a campaign (or are about to) and reckon I should know about it, drop me an email via michael@littlemetaldog.com and I’ll take a look. With us only covering five projects a week, space is short so get in early!

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Going for Gold – Libertalia review

For me, a great game is one that that has moments to get the heart pumping. This can be anything from the tension of a particularly tricky placement in Bausack, feeling your heart race as you try to steady your hand, to the nerves of a big dice roll in Lords of Vegas that could well turn the game in your favour. There’s now a new game to add to the list that will amp up your adrenaline production, if only because you’re hoping that your meticulously crafted plan will pay off. Libertalia is here, and it will fill you with rage in the most delightful way.

A little history: it’s said that way back in the 1600s the colony of Libertalia was founded on the island of Madagascar, a place where pirates could live out their days safe in the knowledge that they were essentially untouchable. A utopian but warlike state that was more than happy to protect its own, Libertalia supposedly only lasted around twenty-five years until it collapsed in on itself, but for that short period of time it was a paradise for rogues and pirates. In the new game from Vasco de Gama designer Paolo Mori, between two and six players have the chance to enjoy one final voyage and pull in as much booty as possible.

If you’ve ever played the classic Citadels, you’ll already have a heads up on how to handle this one. All players begin with the same nine randomly selected characters (as chosen by one player) and the game takes place over three rounds, each one consisting of six turns. Players will select roles from their hands in secret, laying them out in order of seniority when they’re revealed. From the lowly Parrot all the way up to the Spanish Governor, the chosen characters each have special abilities; moving along the line from left to right, these are triggered if they show a Daytime icon and can be anything from gaining extra doubloons (the game’s currency and points) to removing opposition cards from the board. This is where the heart rate starts to rise as you hope that you’ll end up in just the right position (and that no-one else’s pick has a major effect on yours).

Lots of lovely pirate-y goodness including doubloons aplenty!

Step Two: Dusk is where you divide the booty up with the most senior character going first. Before each of the three rounds, tiles are drawn from the bag and laid face up in six spaces. Treasure chests, jewels or goods are all worth points while treasure maps are worthless unless you manage to get a set of three. Not everything is good, however; cursed treasures deduct points and Spanish Prisoners will destroy your character should you be unlucky enough to be forced to pick one up. Sabres are a little more useful, allowing you to kill an opponent’s character that is sitting in their den.

Their den? Ah yes. Once the booty is shared out, we move to Step Three: Night. All character cards return to the players to be placed face up in front of them in the Den. If the card has a moon symbol on it, this action is triggered now and can potentially pull in some decent revenue – after all, a decent pirate will take the opportunity to get their cash no matter what the time…

Keeping characters alive in your den is key to winning the game, especially if they happen to have the Day of Rest icons that can truly swing a game in your favour. At the end of the round, any of these special one-off actions are worked out, your total for the week is worked out and the game is essentially reset – all used characters are removed completely from the game, you start with ten doubloons all over again… Six new character cards are selected at random that all players will use, then the action starts all over again for another two rounds. Once the third is over, the winner is whoever has the most points – simple.

The four icons that will help you plan your game. And don’t try to tell me that the Waitress isn’t Elisha Cuthbert.

And that’s where the real pleasure in Libertalia comes from – the sheer simplicity of it means that the game is explainable in minutes; then you get to focus on how you’re actually going to try and win. With only nine cards available to you at the start of the round (and even less as the turns progress), your options are actually pretty limited but it’s easy enough to form a plan of what you want to do. Unfortunately, as everyone knows what cards you’re holding and also see the limited booty available for that day, it could be that they have the same ideas as you. The true path to victory lies in being tricky, in taking the path less obvious and hopefully getting away with the loot – you know, just like a pirate might do.

Initial plays may seem somewhat overwhelming as you try and work out the optimal combinations to get exactly what you want. Sometimes you may have to take a hit (or a cursed treasure) in order to make sure your longer term plans work out, but you can never be certain that everything will end up perfect. The more players in the game – remember, it handles up to six – the more chaotic things get and the less likely things will go your way. However, as you learn the workings of Libertalia you’ll soon realise the little tricks you can pull off to turn the tide in your favour. It’s certainly a game that warrants multiple plays, and with games taking under an hour even with the maximum amount of folks sitting round the table, you’ll have it out again and again.

Production is of a high quality throughout; the rulebook is well written and laid out with all the information presented in a straightforward manner. The various bits and chits are on thick punchboard and cards are on great stock. Everyone gets a little playmat that explains precisely how the game works and what they should be looking out for. A special nod must be given to the artwork which is excellent – each of the thirty characters in the game are beautifully realised. You’ll be able to see a few inspirations here and there; the Captain himself could well be Geoffrey Rush’s brother, and I’m sure that the Waitress was Jack Bauer’s daughter Kim in the first few seasons of 24…

Libertalia is a game that is slowly building a great reputation which is well deserved. Simple to pick up yet filled with options, it’s taking the Role Selection genre and adding something a little bit special to the mix. I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be in a fair few Top Ten lists when the year comes to a close.

Libertalia was released by Asmodee in 2012. Designed by Paolo Mori and playable with between two and six people, you’ll be looking to pick up a copy (and believe me, you’ll want one) for £33 from the fine folks at Gameslore

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Ship of Fools – Castaways of Deadman’s Bay review

When it comes to the eternal debate that rages around the internet – what’s better, Pirates or Ninjas? – I’m often found happily sitting the whole thing out playing in the corner with robots. The salty seadogs seem to have the edge at the moment, riding the waves of popularity that have been no doubt heavily inspired by the Pirates of the Carribean movies and the fact that kids love shouting ARRRRRR while brandishing swords. The world of gaming has its fair share of releases that focus on a life on the ocean wave – Pirate’s Cove and Merchants and Marauders spring to mind immediately – but what if you want something a little speedier?

Haul up the chest from the briny deep! Kick it open with a swift kick of your wooden leg and see what you find. What’s that, glistening beneath the dubloons? Why, it’s a copy of Castaways of Deadman’s Bay from Ponder Zombie games!

Strictly for two players, Castaways is a quick battle of bluff and strategy where working out what your opponent’s next step could be is the diference between glory and ignominy. Taking control of a potential captain, you battle your opponent to win the game (and control of a fine ship) in one of three ways. We’ll cover those in a moment, but first a brief explanation of how the game runs.

Yo ho ho and a box full o

Setup for Castaways is super-quick. There’s a “plank” in the middle of the two players made up of ten cards, the centre two depicting the player characters. Each player also gets six crew cards (two each of three different types which can be stolen back and forth) and eight little glass health tokens. You also start with three Attack/Defend cards (labelled as ‘Strike’, ‘Charge’ and ‘Insult’) and three Base Power-Up cards (marked with the same). Once those are handed out, you’re good to go.

In a turn, you draw two cards from your pile and place one of them on top of the Power-Up card of the same type (so if you choose to keep an ‘Insult’ one, it sits on top of your Base Insult card). At the top of each card is a type of move – either Damage, Push or Crew – each one causing a different type of misery to your opposite number. They’re not triggered quite yet though; first you must Attack!

This is done by secretly choosing either your Strike, Charge or Insult card. At the same time, the other potential captain must try and work out which card you’ve selected. The choices are revealed at the same and if the enemy shows the same as you chose, there’s no effect. If you outwit them, however, then every attack in that stack is unleashed upon them. For example have a look below:

If you selected Insult (and the other player guessed incorrectly), according to this stack you’ll do three Crew, two Push and one Damage attacks – and these are the three ways in which you can win the game. For every Crew attack, you steal one Crew card of your choice from your opponent (gaining bonuses if you manage to get all four cards of a certain type), winning the game if you get hold of all twelve Crew. Push Attacks involve the Plank, nudging the opposing character slowly towards the edge, one space per card. Think of a daring duel in those classic Errol Flynn movies, albeit with slightly less movement – just push the enemy off the edge and you win! Finally, Damage simply involves taking a Health token away for each card, and getting down to zero means that you lose. So, the above attack would see you take three Crew cards from the other player, push them two spaces along the plank and make them discard one Health token. Not bad…

There’s also a whole bunch of blue cards as well which – while not adding to your attack piles – do grant you boons. These could be anything from forcing the enemy to remove a Power-Up card to getting rid a piece of the Plank, meaning that the journey to the bottom of the briny deep is a little bit closer for them… You won’t win just by using these cards, but they’ll certainly grant you some much needed advantages – don’t underestimate them!

One really nice thing about Castaways is this different paths to victory idea. By spreading out the different type of attack cards that you get from your draw pile, you’re able to either mix things up meaning that you get a good range of different attacks, or you can try to focus on a certain type. Obviously, a lot of the game is luck based (the cards you get to play with, the fact that you have to outwit your opponent to actually get an attack in), but what’s wrong with a little chance now and then?

Castaways of Deadman’s Bay is a good little game. It’s well produced, easy to explain (seriously, you’ll be up and playing within a couple of minutes) and just what I want from a two-player game; lots of confrontation, quick to play and good chaotic fun. I really don’t want to refer to it as a filler – it feels a little derogatory to do that – so I’ll just say that it’s quick and dirty pirate-y goodness. Nothing earth-shaking. It’s not going to change your view of the universe, but you’ll have a few laughs as you bid to become captain. Just don’t expect to stay in that role for too long.

Castaways of Deadmans Bay is published by Ponder Zombie Games. Designed by Ian Volkwein with art from Brandon Bittner, it’s available from Amazon for $25 – maybe a little expensive, but support your local indie developer! They’ve done a very good job putting the game together, producing a high quality product that you really should check out. Aye aye!

Update: Ian got in touch with me after the review was posted to let me know that you can actually pick up Castaways even cheaper… put the code pzgames2 in the checkout on Amazon and you’ll get 20% off. Not bad!

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