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Captain Blackheart lies in a drunken stupor, and the pirates scheme to choose a new leader. In order to seize this position for themselves, the candidates must win the trust of the five most senior members of the crew in the only way they can bribery! However, they'll need plenty of doubloons and rum to gain the loyalty of this treacherous crew, and a pirate's word is only good until the money is spent.
In Mutiny!, each player bids for the right to use the special abilities of the five most senior crew on the ship. However, they must be careful not to bid too heavily on any one crew, because bids linger from turn to turn, making it difficult to adapt to the other players' changing strategies. Worse, the ship might sail to an island filled with danger for the crew they've just spent their hard-earned bribes on, costing them the advantage they've just gained, or worse.
My friend Joe, a historian, is always amused by peoples romantic fascination with pirates, like my own. I love pirate movies, pirate games (except Blackbeard), etc. but in reality the life of a pirate was not nearly as glamorous. I dont really care about the historical inaccuracies of games and movies, however, because realism rarely makes for a fun game. Thus, when I heard that Fantasy Flight games was releasing a new game in their recently christened Silver Line about pirates, I was interested in it.
And what is the verdict on Mutiny! (Fantasy Flight Games, 2003 Kevin Wilson) The theme of the game is great (something Wilson seems adept at), but you are only going to like this game if you like blind bidding games, and even then you may not enjoy it that much. Now, I enjoyed the game, but most of the other playing did not and it takes a game to be a real stinker for me to actively dislike it. Im a big fan of blind bidding games, but often, during the course of the game, I kept thinking how Fist of Dragonstones did it so much better. But then again, perhaps pirates are your theme, rather than fantasy, so keep reading!
The theme of the game is that the captain of the ship is apparently an idiotic cretin, and needs to be mutinied against. The question is, who will lead the mutiny? Each player (up to five) takes eight doubloons of their chosen color and three rum tokens. The remainder of the rum tokens, doubloons, and cutlass tokens are placed in piles at the side of the table. In the middle of the table are placed five large hexagon markers representing the key crew members needed to complete the mutiny. Finally, sixteen chart markers are shuffled and placed in a pile underneath the pilot (fourth crew member). One player is given the large spyglass token, and the game starts.
First, the top chart marker is flipped over and placed next to the pilot. Then, the player with the spyglass calls out each crew member in numeric order (its the same, every turn). When a crew members number is called, all players secretly bid any amount of coins and/or rum tokens that they wish. Each player places their bid tokens next to the crew marker, near the side of the marker with their matching color. The player who has bid the most tokens on a crew member may use that crew members primary ability, and the player who has bid the second most tokens uses the secondary ability. All ties are broken by the player holding the spyglass. The abilities of the five crewmembers are as follows
- #1, Deck Hand: The winner can move any one token bid on any crew member to any other crew member, with the second place winner able to move any of THEIR tokens bid on a crew member to any other crew member.
- #2, Gunner: The winner gets two cutlass tokens, second place gets one.
- #3, Cook: The winner gains two rum tokens, second place gets one.
- #4, Pilot: The winner picks which way the ship will sail on the chart marker (this will determine if certain players will gain and/or lose tokens (doubloons, rum, or swords), and second place gets one cutlass token.
- #5, First Mate: The winner gets the spyglass token, and second place gets one rum token.
After bidding, all tokens remain on that crew member. When all five crew members have been bid on, all the rum tokens are removed from the board back to the general pile of rum, and each player, starting with the player with the cutlass, can take back up to three of their coins from the board. Another round starts, and rounds continue to be played until one player gets eight cutlass tokens (or 10 in a three-player game). That player is immediately the winner!
Some comments on the game
1.) Components: First of all, the artwork for the game, done by Brian Schomburg and Anders Finer, is absolutely fantastic, and certainly revives those romantic notions of the pirates! The tokens are all of good sizes and quality, as is typical for FFG (Fantasy Flight Games). I was a little disappointed with the plastic inset to the box, as there were many small tokens, but really nowhere to store them, I had to add plastic bags to keep everything straight in the box. The box itself, besides being beautiful, is typical good quality from FFG and I really appreciate how all their Silver Line boxes easily stack on my shelves.
2.) Rules: The game rules are very clearly written, in seven languages with illustrations and examples. Every question we had, especially an important one on whether the person with the spyglass broke ties regarding the chart tokens, was answered, and I was able to teach the game in about five minutes. All the game components are language independent, and each of the crew markers has pictures on it, explaining what their primary and secondary abilities are.
3.) Blind Bidding: As I said in the introduction, if you dont like blind bidding, you wont like the game, because thats all thats ever going on in this game. If you like blind bidding, but need variety, you also wont be a big fan of this game, because you are bidding on the same five things, every round.
4.) Theme: However, at least the game really does have a pirate feel, (even if its not historically accurate). The rum, the swords, the artwork, the doubloons, etc. it all works together to give this game some flavor that many games sorely lack. If you are a big pirate fan, Id have to say this is a must-add to your collection.
5.) Strategy and Fun Factor: I enjoyed the game, but found that I was in a minority on that aspect. Some complained that the game felt a little stale. Others got tired of bidding for the same thing over and over. Still others thought that the strategy was lacking, or that there were only a couple viable strategies, bringing down the fun factor of the game. Teenagers, on the other hand, are enamored by the game, and because of the theme, can look past the mechanics (this is almost always the case), so for them, the Fun Factor is huge.
Sadly, this means I cant recommend the game to anyone, unless you LOVE pirates or you LOVE blind-bidding games, and must own them all. The only exception to this is that families might like the game if they have teenagers who can handle blind bidding strategy. Personally, though, there are better games out there, and I would recommend that you pick up one of them instead. Love the theme, wish the mechanics were as interesting as it!