March 17, 2004

Session Report for March 11, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

Rick and Robert surprised us tonight by showing up at 6:30 on the nose. This should have started the evening off with quite a crowd, but for various reasons, none of the Grimm clan were able to attend and so we were left with the ever-awkward number of six.


Mit List und Tücke

Ed suggested this odd (aren’t they all) trick-taking game. There seems to be an endless supply of trick-taking games with odd twists. This is yet another one and a very good one at that. The deck contains four suits (colors) of cards numbered 1-21. The object of the game is to score the most points by collecting cards in two of the colors while avoiding the other colors, which greatly decrease your score. There are several oddities in the play. For one, players do not have to follow suit. The second is that the winner AND the loser of the trick share the cards. The winner is the person who plays the highest card in the suit led. In a six-player game, he picks three of the cards in the trick. The loser is the person who played the lowest card in a non-led suit and he must take the remaining three cards. Then the loser leads the next trick. Very odd, but once you get the hang of it, each hand becomes very calculating as you try to force players to take cards they don’t want, while figuring out how to win some of the cards you need. It actually was a little too calculating, as a few hands took us so long we decided to call the game and move on to something else. It’s a good game though, with plenty to think about.

Results: Susan 64, Robert 51, Mark 45, Mike 33, Ed 9

Susan, Mark (hiding), Rick, Mike, Robert and Ed opening with Mit List und Tücke.

Pirate's Cove

We then broke into two groups of three, determined not to be limited to games that play with larger numbers of players. Robert expressed an interest in Pirate's Cove, so I offered to teach it to him and Rick, while the others went off to play Magna Grecia. The only problem was, I realized upon opening the box, was that I had never actually played Pirate’s Cove. I had played a couple of games of its German predecessor, Piratenbucht, but there had been numerous small changes to the game. So, it took awhile for me to explain the game while trying to refer to new rules in an unfamiliar rulebook. We had numerous questions throughout the game for which I couldn’t immediately find answers for, but I think we played most of them correctly.

Pirate’s Cove has two mechanisms that make some gamers cringe: simultaneous action selection and dice rolling. These gamers would say the game is only a luckfest, but I must disagree. This is a game of bluffing, light and with a good dose of luck, but also with a couple of strategies to pursue. The winner is the pirate who earns the most fame and this can be achieved by collecting and burying treasure and gold, or by defeating other pirates in battle. Players will be sailing to particular islands with these differing strategies in mind, as each islands offers a particular upgrade to one’s ship and different goodies that change from round to round. Battles are decided with dice, but players can mitigate the luck by upgrading the applicable portions of their ship and/or trying to collect action cards that influence the battles. Or, a player can try to avoid battles altogether by outguessing his opponents and choosing to sail to islands they are less likely to also choose.

I chose this latter strategy and upgraded my hull to allow me to carry more treasure. Then I suppressed my greed and sailed to less attractive islands, collecting treasure and burying it on Treasure Island. I was able to avoid battles for much of the game while Rick and Robert had several skirmishes. Robert built up his ship and tried to take on one of the Legendary Pirates. Unfortunately, the dice were not kind and he had to limp back to Pirate’s Cove for repairs. Rick and I made a desperate attempt to defeat another Legendary Pirate at Treasure Island on the last turn, so that we could empty our treasure-laden holds for some last minute fame, but alas, we were defeated. Those pirates are tough. I guess that’s why they are legendary!

Results: Robert 32, Susan 30, Rick 27

This new edition is top-notch. The bits and artwork are simply fabulous. The Tavern cards are better organized into categories and the horizontal upgrade tracks on the players’ ships make much more sense. Having the different Legendary Pirates with differing abilities adds more spice to the theme and gameplay, as do the Parrot cards. I guess the only change that I don’t like is the Fame cards. These were Tall Tales in Piratenbucht and were much more humorous and fun to play at the end of the game.

Rick, Susan and Robert play pirates during Pirate's Cove

The very colorful Pirate's Cove board.

Other games played: Magna Grecia, Attika, Call My Bluff

Mike, Mark and Ed build trade routes and markets while developing Magna Grecia.

Ed, Mark, and Mike accuse each other of being liars in Call My Bluff.

For more pictures from this gaming session and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at March 17, 2004 12:18 AM

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