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A Tale of Pirates


Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, Daniele Tascini

Cranio Creations

No. of Players:



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

More and more publishers try to combine the classical boardgame with electronic elements. Sometimes this works well, sometimes it doesn't. I must say that I am personally always a little bit sceptical towards electronic devices in boardgames, but of course, I was also anxious when I heard that CRANIO CREATIONS had published such a game. In A tale of Pirates the electronic part is an app for our mobile phone that must be used to play the game. So the first action after buying the boardgame, is to download the companion app.

The app more or less leads us through the game. First of all it briefs us how to set-up the mission, explains us new rules that are gradually introduced during the game, and acts a counter. So the mobile phone lies next to the board and does not really disturb the players. Despite my initial reservations, I liked this guidance of the app. Each game is accompanied by a music and sometimes special sound effects tell us that something happened, for example that a we are hit and must take some damage.

A tale of Pirates is an impressive game, because it mainly consists of a huge three dimensional ship with a lot of holes in the bow. These holes are our action holes. To perform an action, each player has his or her own sandtimer that must be put in one of the free action spaces. First thought of me was that you have time to do your action as long as there is sand in the upper part of the timer. But it's the other way round: you have to wait until all sand has fallen down, before you can perform your chosen action. So, what do you do in this time? Well, this is the time to plan and to coordinate your next actions with your fellow players. And this planning phase is extremely important, because only by coordinating we have a chance to win the game.

As you will already presume, A tale of Pirates is a real time game. And as a result, all players do their actions simultaneously and so coordination is more than important. It is necessary to win the game, because our ship has multiple tasks to fulfil in each mission. The game is story-driven with consecutive missions, each in a sealed envelope. So it is advisable to play an adventure with same group of friends, because more and more rules are introduced and the challenges become more and more complex.

The set-up for each mission is similar. Our ship is placed in the middle of the table, so all players have good access to reach it, and place their sandtimers. Then more or less dangerous cards are shuffled together with the mission goals, and randomly these cards are placed face-down in six cardinal directions around the ship. Only the card in front of the ship is flipped and revealed to the players. During the game, it is the players task to discover the mission goals among the face-down cards and get rid of enemies in form of hostile ships or worse. To do so, a player can use the lookout of the ship or turn the ship one or two steps further. And you can shoot enemies on both sides of your ships, but of course only if your cannons are loaded. So there is a lot to do in a mission.

The missions are manifold: sometimes passengers must be carried from one place to another, sometimes pirates threaten our ship. As the challenges so our actions: we can move, shoot, navigate and a lot of other things during the game. But, as it is a real time game, not everything will run perfectly. There will be occasions, when you wants to shoot the brigade that was just now in front of your canon, but one of your fellow players decided that it would be a good idea to turn the ship. As a result, you are only facing the fog.

Each mission consists of two or more real-time phases. At the end of each real-time phase, it is time to reveal all cards that are still on the table. And then all hostile ships and enemies shoot our ship. As a result, the ship can be damaged, and more and more of the action holes become unavailable to use. Of course there is also an action to repair the damage, but this again takes our precious time and prevents other important actions.

Playing A tale of Pirates is a great experience. For the first time in a game I had the feeling, that the mobile phone was not a foreign body, but really belonged to the game. On the other hand, the game is not designed for strategy players. And you must be able to bear pressure, because the game is frantic and sometimes also chaotic. My wife called it burstling. A big fun for the whole family, but also a challenge, at least after the third mission.

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Copyright © 2017 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany