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Store:  Family Games
Edition:  Cartagena
Series:  Cartagena
Theme:  Pirate
Genre:  Racing
Format:  Board Games


original German edition

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 30-45 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Leo Colovini

Manufacturer(s): Venice Connection

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Product Description

The game recalls the legendary 1672 escape of a large group of pirates from the dreaded fortress of Cartagena. Each player has a crew of 6 fugitives which he tries to hurry through the long and tortuous underground passage that connects the fortress to the waterfront. But the task is not easy, because to move pirates forward in the passage you must play appropriate cards, of which you only have a few, while to replenish your cards, you must move pirates backward again.... To balance these conflicting needs requires good timing and judgement. The first player who succeeds in bringing his 6 pirates to the end of the passage and aboard a waiting sloop wins the game.

The rules of the game are simple and easy to learn, and they offer two ways of playing: a faster way that gives more scope to luck, and a tactical way what requires more skill. Players can choose which they like best.

Product Awards

Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2001
Deutscher Spiele Preis
6th place, 2001

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Leo Colovini

  • Manufacturer(s): Venice Connection

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 30 - 45 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 440 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).


  • 6 board-segments printed on both sides. On each is a portion of the underground passage with a different sequence of the following 6 signs: a skull, a dagger, a key, a bottle, a pistol, a three-cornered hat.
  • A small board in the shape of a sloop.
  • A deck of 103 cards; on the face of one is an arrow; on the face of all the others is one of the 6 signs (17 of each sign).
  • 30 pirates (pawns) in 5 colors, 6 of each color.
  • Rules with one illustration in color on a separate sheet.

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 22 reviews

by Wong SH
Simply a great concept
June 08, 2003

I am surprised this game doesn't get more wildly popular, I think it must be the price. Still it cannot be compared to candyland, because of the changable board and the retreating concept. Luck is involved with the drawing of cards, but its deceptively deep strategy always enables the best player to win. I am sure it appeals to most gamers with the open version. The only minus I feel about the game besides the price is that it does not have a proper compartment to hold the cards. Still this game should be one of the best selling game ever. Has anyone tried this game with a trading element?

by Jeff
Extreme Fun-ness
June 02, 2003

Cartagena is really only playable to me in the 'Tortuga' version where all cards are face up on the table. This provides each player with 'perfect information' on which to base there moves. I hate 'perfect information' games.

But I love Cartagena. Conceptually the game is simpler than checkers--either move forward using one of your cards or move back and collect a card or two. But as pirates begin to crowd the halls, the game becomes more complex.

In spite of the fact that you have perfect information, there are enough variables to prevent the 'one right decision' syndrome that some games suffer from. And there are different strategies, if executed well, that can lead to victory, (do you take the patient route and stockpile cards for a massive endgame push, or do you go for a balanced approach and keep moving forward...)

It's always essential to pay attention to which cards your opponents have, and which cards are available for the taking.

A major bonus with this game is that it plays well with 2 players.

It's a game that has been getting a lot of requests and is becoming increasingly 'fun-ner' with each play.

Grab a bottle of rum and escape from Cartagena.

November 28, 2002

I heard about this game and had zero interest in owning it. Until I played it. Now I am just counting the days until the English version gets reprinted.

Simple, each player has five pawns they are trying to move from one end of the board to the other. The board has several types of symbols. Play a card with a hat, and you can move any of your pawns to the next -unoccupied- hat space. That means you can jump ahead many spaces if many hat spaces are occupied. When you need more cards, you simply move backwards to the next space with one or two other pawns on it to gain one of two new cards. Players will be jostling for huge shotcuts (or 'bridges' as we call them) and trying to grab all the 2-card movebacks while preventing quality 'movebacks' for other players. Tons of tactical strategy in such a little package.

This game is not going to replace Taj Mahal in your game group, but it could be one of the best game ever, because of a couple factors: This game takes about 2 minutes to learn for the first time; it takes about 60 seconds to teach. It has a modular board which means that the value of the movement cards changes from game to game, even section to section. It can be played with gamers as very satisfying filler. It can be played with families, even younger children as a family favorite! Two sets of rules depending on if you want a slightly longer meatier game, or whether you want quicker game. It has lots of opportunities for sneaky play and rewards skill. IT PLAYS WELL TWO PLAYERS. It seems to appeal to non-gamers and women. It's my mother's favorite game of all time.

Whew! I've lost track of many times I've played this (thanks, Rick T., from letting me borrow it.) And everyone I play it with likes it: game convention, my mom, my gamer friends, my non-gamer friends, even my game-loathing brother admits he kind of likes it. What tips the balance is the timeless quality about it. The graphics are subdued, and the game is simple, which makes me think I may be playing this game 30 years from now with my grandkids. I really mean that. How many games have that kind of quality to them?

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