Halunken und Spelunken
from 3 customer reviews
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Place and Time: An English port, 1750. Welcome to a period of unrivaled prosperity and economic growth. Maritime trade has expanded across the seven seas; never before have so many British ships plied the ocean waves. As a result, qualified sailors are in extremely short supply. The players are sea captains whose ships sail at dawn, but who have yet to complete their crews. It is late in the evening, and each captain has only eight hours (eight game rounds), to search the dockside taverns and "recruit" enough drunken sailors to complete their crews.
The board is beautiful and the premise is... well, fun! The sailor cards alone caused laughter and the strategy, yea it's light, made for a 'let's play again' atmosphere. Everyone wanted to land on a fellow player's space thus moving them ahead a space and totally messing up their next move. And adding Black Jack for the standard game provided an extra strategy component. The weight of the game reminds me of Cartegena. Fun but not complicated. Great ,lighthearted fun!
After playing this game through once, we immediately played it twice more. It definitely has a fun element of chance and strategy, and the winner is not always obvious. We had many laughs trying to figure out which card each other would play. When all was said and done, however, there were some shortcomings.
First of all, the rules were not as thorough as they should have been. We found a few situations that were not covered, and we had to make adjustments accordingly. The main one being empty taverns and how they are counted, or if they are just skipped over.
We also changed a rule so that the game became more interesting. At the onset, the rules state that each player chooses a sailor (a card that is face up) to start the game. We found that doing this gave all the other players a very good idea of what each other was trying to collect in regards to a color group. So we decided that the first card would not be revealed to everyone, and only after each player had chosen a card would the identities of the sailors remaining in the taverns be revealed. This adjustment added a lot of intrigue to the game.
After we had agreed on house rules and come to terms with the empty tavern discrepancy, this game was a total hoot. We very much enjoyed it and will probably add the black jack element soon. As far as replayability, this is a winner--on our first night of playing, we ended up playing a total of 4 times--a very positive response.
Rounding up sailors from taverns makes a delightful family game. A murky, atmospheric board has 14 taverns printed clock-like on which 3 cards per tavern are placed. The amusing cards depict, in 4 suits, would-be sailors of various point values. Players use a set of 1-7 plus wild card to move their token to a tavern and collect the top face-up sailor card. Players see what move cards the others have used and then all reveal their move card for the current round. If two play the same card, they remain in place, which can be a good move.
Adding to the intrigue is the dubious Black Jack, a token players bid on each round--he'll cost you a sailor, but he may kidnap others' cards per a 1-12 move. After 8 rounds, points are totaled, with double points for the suit you have the most of. Perhaps a bit pricey, nonetheless this is an easy-to-learn, entertainingly interactive game. It was an instant hit at our house, where we start seafaring music when H&S is on deck!
This was the game that I kept meaning to check out at Essen but never got round to. It was my old failing of being much better at making lists than at remembering to look at them. By the time I did remember it was Saturday morning, the hall was standing room only and my suitcase had been officially declared full. So all I did was glance at the board from a distance, decide, wrongly as it turns out, that the game was an Under Cover/ Heimlich & Co spin-off and move on. Fortunately, a couple of months ago one of my friends was down in London on business and called in at Just Games on the lookout for games he could play with his 10-12 year old kids. After buying Seefahrer, he moved on to the next Kosmos box and bought this. The kids like it and so, when he brought it round recently, did we. As a gamers' game it is yet another fighting for the "half hour filler" spot; enjoyable, but then so are lots of the others fighting for the same spot. However, as a game that manages the crossover in appealing both to gamers and the folks who have to live with them, it is in less crowded company.
The story line is that you are an 18th century English sea captain and that you are out to assemble a crew. To do this you do the circuit of the inns around the harbour, of which there are 14 arranged in a circle. Movement is by cards and so is the collection of the crew. At the start of the game the 42 crew cards are dealt out, three to each inn, with one card in each pile face up and the other two face down. You each have eight movement cards, which are numbered 1 to 7 together with a joker, and on each round you play one of them, with the game ending when everyone has run out of cards. The movement cards are played simultaneously, initially face down and then turned over. If you have played a numbered card that has not been duplicated by anyone else, that is the number of spaces you move. If you have played the joker, and again if it has not been duplicated, you choose one of the numbers that nobody has played this round and move that number. If you have played a card that has been duplicated, you stay where you are. Movement is low numbers first. After your move (or non-move, as the case may be) you take the face-up card from the inn and turn over the next card. Played movement cards are left face up so that everyone can see what has gone and can work out who is left holding what. If it stopped at that, it would be an entertaining enough mixture of calculation, guesswork and bluff, but there are a couple more features which lift it from the quite good to the really rather clever. The first is a refinement to the movement system: if your move ends on an inn occupied by another sea captain, then not only do your collect your crew member from the inn, but you filch one from your rival and you knock them on one space, thereby almost certainly messing up any calculations they have made. These opportunities are obviously worth looking out for and they work rather neatly with the "low moves first" mechanism. The second is the scoring system. Each crew card has a basic value in the range 1 to 15 and is also in one of four colours. Your score at the end is the sum of the values of your crew cards, but those cards in the colour of which you have most count double. So, as you move round the board, you are not only looking for the good numbers, but you are looking for cards of the right colour and also for ways to stop your rivals getting cards of the colour that you think they are collecting.
That is the basic game, the one you play at the beginning and the one you play with the younger children. The so-called standard game introduces another piece, Black Jack, the corrupt harbour master. This character has his own set of movement cards (with values 1-12) which are shuffled and stacked face down. On each turn players bid for his services and he moves using the topmost card from his deck. As he does so, he robs cards from those captains he passes over and who have fewer crew cards than his controller. If nobody has bid for him, he moves and robs anyway, but this time the stolen cards go to his own ship in the harbour. Both the basic and standard games are for 3-4 players, but the rules come with a special tactical variant to be played with two and the whole package adds up to a very skilfully designed family game of the sort that usually ends with the question "One more?". Recommended to anyone with kids or with a family containing fringe gamers. They'll enjoy it, so will you, everyone will have "if only" stories at the end and there is enough luck to ensure that the wins get spread around.