A New Pirate Game from MAYDAY Games designed by Christopher Urinko & Daniel Jenkins
Continuing the Pirate theme from "Get Bit" and "Walk the Plank" Mayday Games have added this nice little card game to their ocean going mix. Currently playable by 2-4 players, it will soon (or is already) be for 5 - 6 players as an expansion has or is soon to be available (I saw a note on the internet about it).
The crazy Pirates are up to their old tricks of being particularly stupid for the fun of it. They (may) have heard that deep down on the ocean floor is a treasure chest filled with oodles and oodles of bright shiny baubles - Davy Jones' locker ? So they decide to go looking for it. Of course they aren't that stupid, they know it's a long way down and so they devise a way to rehearse for it, and that is to see how deep they can swim while holding their breath - and before the sharks get them.
The players use cards marked with Bubbles (Air) or Flippers (Swim) to propel their chosen Pirate in a downward direction(descent) on the sea-board (to begin with) and then upwards once the game turns around (the deck expires and has been reshuffled ready for the next, the upwards (ascent) phase).
The Air and Swim cards have numerical values of 5 or 10 and have to be played in tandem with each other. For instance, if the Pirate is to swim down 10 they need 10 Air minimum (which can be a single 10 Air or 2 x 5 Air). Players may play as many cards as they want from their hand, after being played and activated the cards are discarded, with exceptions for cards played against other players which remain in place until removed. There are PANIC and CALM cards - Panic cards prevent players from playing SWIM cards and Calm cards remove Panic cards from in front of you. Pirates Panic when they have either a Panic card or a Shark played in front of them - here the rules are a little ambiguous as they say Additional Panic cards cannot be played on a player who already has a Panic card in front of him, and then goes on to say that the Shark can be played as an Additional Panic card even if the player has a Panic card in front of them. We took this to mean that a player may have a Panic AND a Shark in front of them and thus be double-panicked, though the rules certainly aren't clear if this is correct.
Every card bar the Shark, the Dolphin and the Kraken, offer a choice for their use. The Dolphin counts as a Joker and can be used for any value (5 or 10) Air or Swim but not both unless you play 2 Dolphins. The Shark is played on another player and acts as an additional Panic card (as previously mentioned). The Kraken can be played to get rid of a Shark from in front of you OR to make ALL other players currently holding 5 cards to discard one. The choices on the other cards are either Swim or Air or there is an action such as Draw a card from the Deck or force another player to Discard a card.
There is an anomaly in the rules where the players need to be sure of what is meant before playing. This is the rule that states "After a player has played all the cards he chooses to play from his hand, he may discard any remaining cards ...... " Does this mean that they may discard any cards remaining in their hand (as in all cards remaining) or any cards remaining (as in they can choose to discard some and hold onto others) ? As the game is played in two phases, changing from phase one to phase two (and then the end) when the deck is exhausted and the discards require reshuffling, we played allowing players to choose which cards to hold or discard from their hand. This was decided after playing a couple of games discarding all cards from the hand each turn which then made the game move too fast for comfort.
When the first phase ends each player places their Anchor piece on the lowest space on the board that they have reached and then they try to swim back to the top. The winner is the Pirate who swims the lowest AND returns safely to the surface.
This is an amusing, manic game playable by 8 year olds and upwards. It isn't rocket science or a brain busting challenge but it is good clean family fun in what is becoming a tradition for Mayday Games.