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Store:  Card Games, Strategy Games
Genre:  Role Choice
Format:  Card Games


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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 45-60 minutes 3-4

Designer(s): Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle

Manufacturer(s): Adlung Spiele

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Product Description

This is not an expansion to Verräter, but an entirely new successor game from Verräter designer, Marcel-Andre Casasola-Merkle. With the highland pacified in Verrater, we now move to the ocean. Through bluff and strategy, players try to turn against the ship's captain, seizing the profits intended to be turned at the next port. Game includes a Pirate variant.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle

  • Manufacturer(s): Adlung Spiele

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 3 - 4

  • Time: 45 - 60 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 110 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components contain foreign text that does not impact play. An English translation of the rules is provided.

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 3 reviews

Yo-ho, Yo-ho, A Mutineer's Life For Me!
August 09, 2004

Well, I admit that 'mutineer' wasn't the first vocation I thought of when people asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. And I suppose I really don't want to be a mutineer -- not really...not when I could be a Trader and get more money for my bolts of cloth on Highland Island. But if that scurvy sea-dog of a Captain takes us to Thimble Island, I'm in BIG trouble! Hmmm...? Oh, you mean in REAL life? I was talking about this GAME! You see in Mutineer, you won't be just a mutineer; you can be any one of a handful of professions (trader, captain, loadmaster, ship's mate, cabinboy), often changing roles round by round, trying to eke out as many points as possible.

What the designer has done is effectively (and brilliantly) squeezed a boardgame's worth of play into an eensy-weensy, itty-bitty box about the size of a regular deck of cards. Trying to descibe such a big game is such a small review in no easy task either, but I'll sure try!

First everyone is dealt a hand of 5 'ware' cards. These cards depict one of the 6 different types of wares: rubies, wine, cloth, corn, salt, and CONFLICT! (Conflict may not be a ware, but it sure makes for a great game.) Since you only ever have 5 cards in your hand in a round, you need to plan where you can sell your wares for maximum profit. During a round, players play one card at a time, competing for victory points (VPs) at the various islands. Different islands (12 islands, each depicted on cards in a circle) want different goods and offer different prices. So if you can sell at a '?' island and a 'ruby' island, and you have 2 rubies (out of a possible 4 ruby cards in the deck), you know you will at least tie for the lead. And then you could also be playing one other ware set to compete at the '?' island (any one commodity of your choice can be sold there). Since players only have 5 cards, there are many ties in the 'selling' part of the game. The more people who tie for the lead in a sale, the less points each player gets. And each commodity has a different amount of cards available for it from Corn (8 cards) down to Rubies (4 cards). This leads to greater uncertainty and tension during competitions during the selling phase, (since a commodity like corn is a lot harder to control a lead in than rubies.) This system, while excellent, is only ONE part of Mutineer!

You see, at some point you will either lock up a lead in a commodity or two, or call it perhaps a few card plays into a round. When the captain drops out, his remaining cards in hand determine how far the ship will move, and he marks that with a destination card. But whenever someone other than the captain drops out, that one gets to choose a 'role' on the ship. Since the sooner you drop out of a round, the sooner you choose, this creates another level of tension to the game. On one hand, you want to win at a 'corn' island, on the other hand, you really want the ability of the mutineer, which may not be available if another player grabs it first. What do you do?

The roles play a key part in this game:

Captain: is the only role assigned at the beginning of the game. The Captain is known to all players at the beginning of each round (the role card is face up in front of him) and will make an offer of a certain amount of coins (from 0-3 income) to try and hire a Ship's Mate. He also will try and control which island the ship will travel to next. The island he sails to will depict a commodity and a VP value, and this determines what will be able to be sold next round, AND how many VPs the captain gets (minus his offer to the mate).

Ship's Mate: fights on the side of the captain in the event of a mutiny. If one player chooses the Ship's Mate, and the 'good guys' defend against the mutiny (or there is no mutiny), then the Ship's Mate gets 1 VP + how ever many voctiry points the Captain offered as income. Also, the Ship's Mate also has a conflict icon depicted on the card: if someone picks this role, the good guys get an extra conflict point in addition to whatever they play.

Trader: gets more Victory Points (VPs) in the event of a tie. If there is a 3-way tie on Highland, wach player gets 2 VPs, but if one of those players took the Trader, they would get the full 4 VPs while the others still only got 2 VPs. Very handy role.

Loadmaster: when restocking his hand to 5 cards at the end of the round, gets 3 extra cards to choose from, allowing him to make his hand from his restock deal and the bonus cards, still limited to a hand of 5 cards. This is HUGE in this game because with only 5 cards in a hand, each card is extremely valuable.

Mutineer: will try and take over the ship from the Captain. If he fails, he gets nothing. If he succeeds, then whatever island he chose to go to, he gets FULL points for.

Ship's boy: helps the Mutineer. He gets 2 VPs if they are successful.

So then the question begging to be asked is: how do you fight? Simple: most conflict points. During the 'selling' phase, instead of laying down one ware card, a player may play a Conflict card. This makes a huge statement to the other players, often affecting which roles players will take as they weigh who might win a potential conflict. The Captain, if he has conflict cards will often play one or more to try and intimidate the crew (other players) into humbly accepting his leadership. =) Once everyone has finished selling, then each player flips over their role card to reveal who he/she is. If someone took the Mutineer, there is a fight. In ADDITION to the Conflict cards already on the table, players involved in the conflict (captain, ship's mate, mutineer, ship's boy) now have one chance each (starting with the captain) to put down as many conflict cards as they want. Once all players involved in the conflict have done this, winner takes control of the ship. If it is a tie Mutineer wins.

The significance of the conflict can not be understated. A captain chooses the destination of the ship, and will, of course, take the boat where it most benefits himself, both by commodity to be sold, and by number of VPs for arriving at the island. An opponent may not like how many easy VPs the captain is raking up, and may also not benefit from the commodity to be sold next; this may make him take the mutineer. This consideration forces the captain to try and make everyone reasonably happy but trying to still benefit slightly more than other players. And, of course, when he makes an offer of 3 VPs for a Ship's Mate, it's amazing just how loudly money talks...

I can not even descibe to you all of the game. I am leaving out the VERY clever mechanism for moving the ship (which involves how many cards are spent in a round) which makes cardplay even trickier. Also, selection of roles is a huge part of the strategy: once one player chooses a role (keeping it secret to the end of the round), the next player to drop out takes a look at the cards, realizes what the first drop-out took, then bases his role selection on the effect the previous player's role will have -- and boy, is this part of the game tricky! And there is also a Pirate's Ship variant that adds even more spice!

SOOOOO, SOOOOO much game in this little tiny box. The rules aren't the easiest in the world to understand, but by reading through the example game, you quickly pick up on it, and once you have played it once, the whole game makes a whack of sense, and rewards the player with a tight tactical, strategic game with bluff, conflict, trade, compromise -- yowzah!

It's a bit tricky, and probably best for 12 years or older. And the game plays fairly with 3, and spectacularly with 4. But whenever I have a group of 4 intelligent game players at the table, you better believe Mutineer is going to come out!Absolutely no doubt: after playing this game over 15 times in 2 weeks, it is a rock-solid 5 stars.

Nice theme and mechanics
July 22, 2003

Although the available English rules leave something to be desired, this is an easy, quick game that provides a lot of room for tactical thinking. There are three ways to get points: by trading a majority of goods in an open port, by controlling the movement of the ship as Captain or Mutineer, and by taking the role of the Mate or Ship's Boy and being on the winning side in a mutiny (or, in the case of the Mate, just discouraging anyone from becoming the Mutineer). Every turn you must decide what goods to offer for trade and what cards to retain in your hand for future use or ship movement; when to pass and choose a role (too soon and another player may outbid you in an active port, too late and you may not get the role you want); and whether to participate in a mutiny or stay out of it by choosing one of the purely mercantile roles. In addition, the Captain has to choose how many victory points to offer anyone who might choose the Mate role; and rather than choosing another role when he passes, he sets a destination for the ship based on the cards left in his hand. The fact that trading is done at the last two ports visited, not the one where the ship heads at the end of the turn, makes it difficult to plan trades, throwing more weight on the other ways of making points -- probably overall a good thing, though it doesn't make much sense thematically. This is an excellent game for four people, marginally playable by three.

Merchants and Mutineers
December 27, 2000

While Meuterer shares a common heritage with Verrater, it is definitely its own game. While Verrater was almost a wargame disguised as a card game, Meuterer is lighter fare and more accessible.

A ship travels around a ring of islands stopping occasionally to let the crew sell its carefully hoarded goods. The Captain usually decides on which port to visit next, while players are deciding what merchandise to sell. If the crew members are unhappy with the Captain's choice, a mutiny might occur, and a new Captain appointed. Throughout the game, players earn points for having the best selection of goods for sale as well as points for being on the winning side in a mutiny.

Conflict in Meuterer is less overt than in its predecessor, and therefore can be enjoyed by a wider range of players. While it lacks some of the subtleties of its carefully-crafted parent, it also has a breezy charm of its own. Recommended.

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