Cartagena: Die Meuterei
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(Worth 3,150 Funagain Points!)
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Players have to take sides: Will they support Captain Valverde or the mutineer Ramon Diaz? Use your cards to swing control of the ship toward the party you favor, but watch out for opportunities to capture gold since that could make all the difference in the long run.
Description written by W. Eric Martin and used with permission of BoardgameNews.com
While this game follows the story theme of the Cartagena series, it plays nothing like Cartagena 1 or 2. I haven't played Cartagena 3 (Die Goldinsel), so can't compare it to that yet. It remains a light game, but there's a lot more to it than Cartagena 1 and 2.
I'm a big fan of the first 2 installments of the Cartagena series, so I was excited to play #4! Gameplay is divided into 2 phases, the first being the voyage and the second the mutiny! During the voyage, players amass resources to help them affect the outcome of the mutiny. It's a relatively short (30-45 mins) and light game and the pirate theme scores points with me! Everyone in my gaming group liked it and no one had any major criticisms. I've listed minor critiques at the end of the review.
Phase 1, The Voyage: During the voyage, players knock on the various pirates' cabin doors to gather information that will help them during the mutiny phase. This is simulated by dealing out a certain number of the 13 pirate card face down, depending on the number of players. The first player reveals the first pirate and decides whether take him and use his ability or to try the next door. The player may keep going until he or she finds a pirate ability they want, but the danger is that the Ghost pirate may be among them and if the Ghost is reveals, the player's turn ends immediately, which adds a nice element of suspense! After the first player selects a pirate to use for that turn, the next player may choose from any previously revealed pirates, or may continue to reveal pirates in hopes for a different ability to use. Once a pirate is passed by, a player may not go back and use them during this round, but successive players in the round will be able to use them. In a 4 player game, 7 of the 13 pirate cards are dealt out per round, so 6 are burried each round, hence not all pirate abilities are available each round. All pirate abilites allow you to do some variation of the following:
After everyone has taken a turn, the pirate cards are reshuffled and dealt again for the next round. During the voyage, the boat piece is moved along a track toward the mutiny at the end. Each round, the boat moves a number of spaces equal to the number of revealed pirate cards that were unused (0-3 spaces). Once the boat reaches the mutiny space, the mutiny begins! Along the way, there are 3 storm spaces that when crossed, one of the pirate gets seasick and a pirate card is removed from the deck at random.
Phase 2, The Mutiny! After the voyage is over, players have amassed a hand of combat cards, a stockpile of gold, and have declared whether they will fight for Captain Valverde or Ramone Diaz (still hidden until the end of the game). The mutiny plays out with 5 sets of duelling pirates. 5 sets of figurines are lined up across from each other on the ship, each with a combat value from 1-10 hidden under its base. During the voyage, some or all of the pirate figurines were assigned one side or the other by the players. Any that weren't assigned by the end of the voyage are assigned randomly. The first of the five sets of duelling figurine's combat values are revealed and players now have a chance to play combat cards to affect the outcome. Once a pirate is determined victorious, he or she is placed on the side of the ship for which he or she fights (Captain Valverde or Ramone Diaz) and the other is thrown overboard.
Winning the game: The first side to win 3 duels is the winning side and the game ends. At this point the players reveal their loyalties. If only one of the players was aligned with the winning side of the mutiny, he or she is the winner. If there are multiple players aligned with the winning side, which is often the case, then the winner is determined by who among them has the most gold.
1. The board is entirely too large. There is no reason for it to be as big as it is and it doesn't make very good use of the space. One simple change could be to create spaces for the pirate cards to be dealt onto each round. There would be plenty of room above or below the ship track with minor repositioning of graphics. Or simply make the board about 1/3 smaller.
2. It should've been up to 5 players. A 5th player could easily be added with the addition of 3 extra cards and the game should hold up just fine mechanically. My group is going to try a homemade verson of this soon!
3. The voyage phase seems a bit short. Everyone in my group commented that they would like the voyage to be longer to allow more time to gather resources and declare loyalty, etc. To be fair, players can voluntarily make the voyage last longer by not flipping as many pirate cards over each round during the voyage phase. This is challenging to do though, because players are tempted to keep revealing pirate cards until they get an ability that is more beneficial for them. Making the voyage longer is an easy house rule to implement.
4. The pirate ship needs a plank! This is only a flavor criticism, but c'mon every pirate ship needs a plank! Pirates that lose the duels could be made to walk the plank and placed there to signify they've lost.
5. It is made for 2-4 players. While it is playable with 2 players, it is much more fun with 3 or 4.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy Cartagena Die Meuterei!