It's ZOCH time again!
Gezanke auf der Planke from Zoch is a 2021 game and is not a revision of the 2006 Winning Moves game of the same name.
For the uninitiated, Zoch zum Spielen was an independent games publisher that produced mainly family games, with most of those created to ensure that the youngest members of the families could join in, understand the game, and have great fun playing with their parents, elder siblings and friends. Zoch are now under the Noris-cum-Simba umbrella and have been for a good few years now.
When they joined the bigger conglomerate it was feared that only their most popular titles would continue, games like the famed BAUSAK, designed by Klaus Zoch and published first in 1987. Thankfully Noris had no such intentions and instead has let Zoch continue to publish the family games it is renown for, but with the financial expertise and backing of the massive Simba Toys.
Anyone who has followed my reviews on Zoch games over the years will know that almost from the off myself and my gaming friends and family have found in Zoch family games, better strategies than many so-called-strategy games can muster. Play a Zoch 'kids' game according to its rules, but with youngsters in mind, and you almost always (Zoch rarely publish a game that doesn't amuse us) have a game that will have young players squealing with delight and older children and adults laughing along with them.
When the children have gone to bed and only the 'adults' remain at the table it is time to play Zoch games using your 'gamer' head instead of your family head. This is when you start questioning the basic simple plays and actually think about each action instead of just playfully taking it.
My lack of being able to read, write or speak the German language really frustrates me. After something like 25 years visiting Essen Spiel and more years than that playing Euro-style board games, mostly published in Germany, I should know a lot more than I do - it's embarrassing to be honest. Luckily Zoch games (and the majority of Euro Games publishers) include English rules in their games or have actual English editions, so once again the arrogance of the English speakers (expecting every other Country to speak English) wins out. I am, for one, very grateful for the patience of these companies.
I mention my lack of speaking/understanding German because in my mind GEZANKE auf der PLANKE reads as WALK the PLANK, this is because it is a game with a ship, planks and Pirates. It actually translates to QUARRELING on the PLANK which, once you have played the game makes more sense - no Pirates are killed or injured during the playing of this game.
There are a few minutes after opening the box for the first time where you take the time to build the ship. There are lots of cut out card pieces that slot together. As is almost always the case with cardboard slots, they take a little bit of fiddling around with and a lot of care so as not to bend or tear them. Zoch have been thoughtful about this though because, if you want or need to, you can use adhesive and glue the ship together - there is room in the box to keep the assembled ship. Just be careful not to get any sticky-stuff on the planks as these need to be able to move.
The six planks are of differing lengths, each with the ends in one of six colours and each divided into movement spaces/squares. You can put them on the ship in any order, the only format being that the spaces which show Rope must align with each other down the centre of the deck from Bow to Stern. If the ropes align then the spaces on each plank will also align (except for the longer planks that overhang the deck).
There are 7 Shark Fins which are the game timer mechanism, thus there are seven rounds in a game. For effect these are placed on the table around the ship, they do not attack the Pirates (though I'm sure we will soon think of a way of incorporating them into our way of playing). One of these is placed back in the box at the end of each Round, and when the last one is returned the game is over.
When moving Pirates you can push other pirates towards, or from, scoring spaces. Ideally push your pirates to the scoring spaces and opponents to the edge of the plank. Each pirate has a shiny sticker on its base (put there during original setup) which prevents the pirates from getting a good grip on a sliding plank - you are very fortunate if any pirate stays on a tipped plank. It can happen but not very often (if you count 'almost never' as not very often).
Pirates like Doubloons and on some of the Plank spaces either One or Two Doubloons are printed. Having Pirates on these spaces after a Plank has toppled into the water is how you score Doubloon Points. However, if you have any Pirates floundering around in the sea at any time you can forefo the collecting of Doubloons to rescue the Pirates. It is not lose One Doubloon to save one Pirate it is do NOT collect any Doubloons and save as many Pirates as are swimming - you can only not collect Doubloons if there are Doubloons for you to collect. You cannot save Pirates if Doubloons are not available for you to collect.
There are two dice which have coloured faces instead of numbers. The colours equate to the colours on the Plank ends. Each player rolls the 2 dice and is required to have a result of different colours. One of the dice is used to move/slide the plank with that coloured end, it slides the number of spaces as there are Pirates on it. The second die is used to move one of your Pirates onto the plank of its colour if possible.
With children playing they are really happy to see the Pirates topple off the planks into the sea and they don't think much about how they do it. Nice parents usually do their best to allow their kid's pirates the best chances to stay onboard, at least for a while. Gamers will strategise about placement and movement of pieces, when to save Pirates, when to take the money etc.
However you play, it is a highly amusing game, lots of fun and lots of replayability. The kids love it, teenagers put down their iPhones for it. Adults? Well I'm never going to admit to being one, but I think it's hilarious.
Below are reasons why you should look around before buying if you can. Prices online. Here
UK: Meeples Corner £30.98 (discount of £1.37 and postage of £3.95). Thirsty Meeples £32.00 (£28.00 + £4.00 post).
Germany: £34.08 (£22.97+£11.11 post) or £30.74 (£20.52 + £10.22 post) or £39.18 (£25.58 + £13.60 post) or £35.91 (£23.94 + £11.97 post).
Italy: £32.48 (£25.65 + £6.83 post). The Netherlands: £36.73 (£28.18 + £8.55 post).