|2-4 Players||1-2 hours|
Create Pirates from random
body parts -- form a crew and set sail.
To begin, players determine
who will deal, and who will play first. Players are dealt ten
(10) cards each. In the center of the table nine (9) cards are
placed face up -- these are the Commons. The remaining cards are
placed nearby as the draw pile.
The primary action of the
game is playing a pirate. A pirate is composed of three cards: a
head, a body, and legs. On your turn you may play a pirate by
placing these cards in front of yourself or another player -- thus
adding them to a crew. Once a pirate is in a crew, it stays there
unless an event card or a pirate's ability changes it.
It's good strategy to place
pirates with unpleasant abilities in your opponent's crews.
Your goal is to create a
crew of a particular size (based on the number of players), and then
set sail with them. The first player to successfully set sail,
Each player's turn proceeds
During your turn, if you see
a card in the commons that you would rather have you may trade for it
-- but there is a cost. To trade, you must first discard a card,
and then exchange one card in your hand for the card in the commons
that you want. Subsequent trades on the same turn require you to
discard additional cards: 2 for the second trade, 3 for the third, etc.
Many pirate body parts have
special abilities. You can't use these abilities in most cases
unless the pirate is "Active". To make a pirate
active, the pirate must have certain body parts that match -- that is
correspond to the original artwork. (You can tell if they match by an
index number on the cards, or by the name on the left of the
cards.) When a pirate is matched -- the matched cards become
active, and their abilities take effect. Matched pirates are also
immune to the Skallywaggs event which swaps body parts between pirates.
Along with the pirate body
parts, there are event cards. Event cards allow you to exchange
pirate body parts with pirates that are in play, eliminate specific
pirates from a crew, swap pirate crew members, or stop an opponent form
sailing for a turn. A few events affect (or counter) other events
outside of your turn. Most event cards are self explanatory.
To win, a player must
declare that they are sailing. After that, the opponents all have
one last turn to stop that player form winning. If the player
still has enough pirates to sail when it is his/her next turn, they
win. If they fail to win, then the game proceeds as usual.
far as innovation, and being altogether different -- this game is
good. However, the rules themselves leave a few too many holes
which make for a frustrating game experience.
With regard to modern card
games, this game has several plusses. First, it isn't a
collectible game... all of the cards are in the box -- you don't need
to buy more unless you so desire. Second, the art on the cards is
quite good and adds good color to the game -- certain pirate
head/body/leg combinations are hideously absurd which does add a good
comedic value to the game. Third, the basic rules are brief to
read through (one double sided page of rules.) Fourth, younger kids can
have fun assembling pirate bodies for hours and not need to know how to
The rules of the game are
brief, and that is good -- however there are some important
distinctions that need to be better explained. We resorted to asking
the creators some basic questions via e-mail -- those answers are now
in the game's FAQ. The rules are loosely worded in key situations
-- for instance certain pirates are "immune to
arrest", but the event card is actually called
"Arrest warrant". Other abilities affect only one of
the three cards in the pirate -- like the ability to draw extra cards
from the waitress; but similarly worded abilities on other cards affect
the entire pirate (the monkey make the whole pirate immune to
skallywaggs.) Again, you have to check the online FAQ to be sure of the
ruling. For competitive card players, this is frustrating.
The one page of rules wasted a lot of space describing the card artwork
when it needed to clarify some of the rules more.
Another bothersome detail in
the game is the card design. The artwork is great -- but we
didn't think that we needed a special symbol to tell us which cards
were heads, bodies, or legs...it's pretty obvious. The flavor
text on some body parts is in the same location as the abilities -- you
have to stare at every card to tell which ones have important
abilities. The card names on the left (e.g. crewman, Cap'n Starr,
Ship's Surgeon) are in a font that is challenging to read from a
distance. The color of this text is also supposed to be
meaningful, but it's also a strain to see.
The game is enjoyable to a
point -- but hardcore card players may not like it. As we played,
it had flashes of brilliance, but it frustrated us more often than it
should have. Our opinion at the start of the games that we played was
that game seems good -- but as each game progressed it became unwieldy:
you couldn't keep track of pirate abilities in your opponents crew, and
the game tends to be dominated by players who successfully control the
pirates with extra card drawing abilities. Overall, it left us
neutral -- None of us hated the game, but it didn't inspire us to
play it again, either. If you can pick up a cheap copy of the
game, you might like it -- it's a toss up.
Where to buy:
This can be ordered at www.skallywaggs.com.
It costs US $18.50.
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