Drake & Drake
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1695... The Caribbean... At the head of your crew of cutthroat pirates, you set full sail for a small island indicated on the treasure map you took from the most feared pirate of the Spanish Main while he was on his deathbed. This map also shows you the spots where he buried all of the treasure and rum he "collected" over his career.
As you approach the island you see another suspicious ship approaching the tiny island. It's another pirate... In fact, it's your brother! How did he find you? Throughout your life he has always tried to steal what was rightfully yours. He must have a copy of the map too, and is trying to claim the booty for himself!
A merciless struggle ensues. To win, you must be the first to land on the island and claim the treasure, you must conquer the greatest number of territories, and you must throw the most enemy pirates into the sea....
Yo-Ho-Ho and a Race to the Rum!
Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirates life for me. For some reason, a pirate theme is a common theme for a board game, yet very few games invoke that true pirate feeling. Drake & Drake is an example of the middle ground. Its not dripping with pirate theme, but there is enough to satisfy theme-based folk. Its a two-player tile laying game by Bruno Cathala, and is more about tile laying then it is about pirate wars.
So is the game worth buying? The short answer is that if you like two-player games, and already have the best of them (Lost Cities, Odins Ravens, Hera and Zeus) and still want more then yes! If you are looking for your first two player games, Id recommend one of the others first.
And now for the longer answer.
First, a short description of game play
The small board has thirty-one spaces on it, in a semi-grid. Eight of the spaces have a keg of rum on them, while two of them bear treasure chests. The object is to control the most spaces by placing pirates on them, with 10 points being scored for a normal space, 30 for some rum, and 50 for the treasure chests. A player is also trying to get as many of his pirates next to one another, for a territory bonus. Each player chooses a color, green or purple. All the pirate counters are two sided, with purple on one side, and green on the other so players draw from the same common pile.
There is a deck of forty-six cards, 10 orange, and 36 yellow. Each yellow card allows you to place a pirate on the board (of value 1, 2, or 3), Each orange card allows a special action, as follows:
Elimination: Lets you kill a pirate adjacent to one of yours. Kill, maim, and destroy!
Epidemic: Lets you kill one of your own pirates to kill the adjacent opponents pirates.
Falsification of orders: Cancels any orange card played by the opponent, and allows you to place his pirates this turn.
Shanghai: Lets you pull an Othello type move, where you capture all pirates between two of yours.
No Quarter: Lets you push pirates (maybe into the ocean!)
The deck is shuffled and split into two decks, one for each player. Players take the top 8 cards from their decks for their hands. On each turn, they can play 4 yellow cards, 2 yellow cards and one orange card, or 2 orange cards. Both players play cards at the same time. Each card is numbered from 1 to 46. The lowest numbered card is played first, etc. Each player refills their hand and continues. The game ends when a player can no longer play cards, or when all the spaces on the board are taken up. At this time, points are totaled up, with a bonus being given for amount of pirates of the same type next to each other. This ranges from 5 points for having two pirates adjacent, to 400 points for having twenty pirates adjacent! The higher point total is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: Im a huge fan of all Euro Games boxes, as they keep their sizes standard, and everything fits inside Their new two-player series is not exception. Drake & Drakes box is small, compact, and sturdy. The inside of the box shows a picture of each card, so that you can look at all their text. The board is quite small, and has some gorgeous artwork on it. Its covered with water, palm trees, mountains, and grass. Of course, all this is just aesthetic, but its still nice nonetheless. The artwork on the cards and the tokens invokes a pirate feeling, and is nicely done. The card are a decent stock, with full descriptions of what each card does written on them. A card comes with the game that shows the treasure map (board), so that when the pirate tokens are covering up the treasure chests and rum barrels, you can still know where they are. Its a clever, and very nice touch. Another card lists all the orange cards and tells what number they are. The pirate tokens are nice and thick. My only negative reaction to them was that I wish they had picked different colors besides dark purple (red?) and dark green. Brighter colors would have been easier to tell apart, and would have gone well with the pirate theme. This is a game I am proud to pull out, as its components are top-notch!
2). Rules: There are three pages of rules that come with the game, including some optional rules for those who want more strategy. The rules are very, very clear, and two more pages are included that give examples with pictures. Pictures are very evident throughout the rulebook, and the font is easy to read. One problem with the rules, however The Victory points for territory calculation are NOT in the rulebook. Rather, they are on a card that comes with the game. While that makes it easy to figure out scores, if you lose the card, you are in trouble. I dont plan on losing my card, but I still think the point values should have been duplicated in the rulebook.
3). Strategy: This is my favorite of the three Games for 2 games designed by Bruno Cathala because of the strategy involved. Yes, there is a good amount of luck involved in which cards you draw. But you have so many choices with those cards, that I think a better player will win a majority of the time. We found that while the treasure chests and rum barrels were nice (and you cant ignore them) that it was crucial to get large amounts of territory to win. And orange cards cannot be ignored they can really do some crucial damage to your opponent. Several times I have broken up my opponents large territory with a well-played orange card.
4). Fun Factor: While the theme is not very strong it is there. You can make yourself feel the pirates as they slash and hack at one another. We find ourselves yelling Arg Matey and Walk the plank! The game is very simple to teach to beginners, and is easy to play. But more than that, it is a good bit of fun. The numbered card idea is a good one, and solves all timing rules, and game play runs very smooth.
5). Colors: As I said before, the game is awash in color. The rulebook, the board, the cards, the back of the cards, the tokens (kind of), the box all are brightly colored and help invoke that pirate theme. It also stands out on my rather large game shelf. I have to admit that I like colorful games.
So in conclusion, I have to admit that I like this game. Im not drawn to it like I am to Odins Ravens or Lord of the Rings: Confrontation, but it is a quick, simple game to pull out. The theme is not strong, but it is there, and that helps contribute to the fun. That, coupled with the fact that I can get a non-gamer to play this makes it a winner in my book. Its not too expensive, so if you already have Lost Cities and the other great games of the Cosmos line, give this game a try!
An island of 36 spaces provides those three picaresque mainstays: treasure, rum, and fighting. You and your opponent each get half of a shuffled, consecutively numbered, 46-card deck from which you draw a hand of eight cards and replenish as necessary. Each turn, you both select up to four cards and reveal them simultaneously. The cards' actions are carried out in ascending numerical order. Yellow cards allow you to place a pirate of your color on a vacant space. Orange cards let you unleash several kinds of mayhem, such as shanghaiing enemy pirates, or doing them in with plague.
Most points wins when all spaces are filled. You'll score handsomely for large clusters of pirates, with bonuses for occupying squares illustrating treasure chests or rum. Yo-ho-ho!
Eurogames' entry into the two-player market is a one man show, and that man is Bruno Cathala. These three games were released simultaneously and share many traits. All use event cards as a primary mechanic, play in about 30 minutes, are nicely produced in common-size and well-colored boxes, and have a decent strategic component. As a set, they make a nice addition to the two-player game library and stack up well against the more mature Kosmos "Spiele fr Zwei" series, though these games are a bit lighter overall.
War & Sheep!
[page 13755#007324]jump to War & Sheep! review
Tony & Tino
[page 13753#007322]jump to Tony & Tino review
Drake & Drake
Card play is taken to another level in Drake and Drake, the final game of the series. We're now in the Caribbean in 1695, and the board shows an island in a (guess what?) 6 by 6 grid, but some of the spaces are removed this time. On some spaces there is a Keg o' Rum, on others a Treasure Chest, and the rest are empty. Pirate tokens are placed onto the spots. These are valued from one to three and are dual-sided, each side showing one player's color. You win this one by controlling the special spaces on the board at game end, but more importantly by having a large set of connected tiles. The value of connected sets at game end is basically the square of the size, rounded to the nearest five (thus seven connected tiles are worth 50, not 49). The sum of your "territories" plus board spaces equals your total points.
The card deck this time is a single deck with 46 cards, numbered in sequence. There are two types of cards: "Landing Cards" let you place a specific value Pirate token in your color onto the board. "Action Cards" let you do things, like push Pirates around, flip Pirate tiles over to become yours, remove tiles through disease, and cancel your opponent's actions. It is the play of these cards that makes this game both more sophisticated but also more random than Tony and Tino.
The 46 cards are shuffled and dealt out to each player. Each player draws a hand of eight cards, and then plays a "trick". A trick is either four Landing cards, two Landing cards and one Action card, or two Action cards. Choosing the cards privately and revealing simultaneously is important, since the number of cards played indicates your general intent. The cards are then revealed and played out in card number order, lowest to highest. So, when playing a trick, you need to think not only about what you want to do but how your actions are likely to be spaced relative to your opponent's.
The board fills up quickly and the Action cards make use of the Pirate values. Unit-value Pirates are just as valuable at game end if they are part of a territory or holding down a Treasure Chest. But, during the game the Action cards allow Pirates to "push" others as long as the group pushing has greater value than those being pushed. So, putting your 'two' and 'three' value Pirates in the right places has a lot of importance. Creating a large connected territory for yourself without letting your opponent do the same will dominate most of your placement decisions. The cut-out spots on the board help make it difficult to get a territory that is too big since it creates certain spaces that are likely destined for attack. The game ends when the board is filled or when one player cannot play a legal trick.
The card play in Drake and Drake is clever, but ultimately somewhat random since the single card set is initially divided. It is possible to end up with a real advantage in Landing cards or Action cards, and thus its suggested variant is highly recommended. This allows each player to look at all of their cards initially, and thus know the relative strength of their hand, and then shuffle them before drawing eight. This does not change the fact that the card draw could be inequitable, but it at least creates the chance to set a strategy based on that fact.
While all three games are worth playing, Tony and Tino is the most strategic and is the best bet for me. This is followed by Drake and Drake, and lastly War and Sheep (Molly and Lore). Each of them is nicely designed, has great artwork, is obviously playtested well, and has enough strategy in a fast play to recommend it. I look forward to seeing the upcoming games from Bruno Cathala who seems to share some traits with our favorite Bruno (Faidutti) by finding good ways to mix some randomness and chaos into a well-playing and ultimately enjoyable contest.