Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



AMIGO Spiele 2007




Being a true publisher of family boardgames and cardgames, it is worthhile to mention that the people of AMIGO never have lost their open-mindedness towards new playing concepts, and over the years this resulted in the publication of uncommon games like Diskwars or Drachenreiter or even a whole series of role-playing games. Thus, it is not surprising that once again AMIGO has decided to try a new playing concept, and with Piraten - Das Gold von Davy Jones the players now are taken back to the Golden Age of buccaneers where they take their ships to the Caribbean in search of some famous treasure.

Thus, the game comes with a rather huge gameboard, showing lots of open water and a few small islands which are evenly distributed over the playing area. However, the real stars of the game are the ships: a total of 8 ships is included, so that each player becomes "Admiral" of a rather small flotilla of two ships. These ships are not just simple tokens or pre-formed plastic figures, but instead they are three-dimensional miniatures, built by the players from included parts for hulls, decks and masts. The parts for each ship are punched out from two credit-card sized plastic cards, and with these parts the ships are assembled rather quickly. One of these two cards also shows the characteristics of the ship which has just been assembled, so that the player keeps the remainder of this card as a reference throughout the game. Preparing the gameboard for playing, each of the players now is assigned an island among the outer rim of the gameboard as a "home island" where he positions his two ships, and then a number of treasure counters is randomly mixed and distributed evenly among the islands at the center of the gameboard. It will be these treasure counters which the players try to collect and take back to their respective home islands.

The most unusal aspect for the common boardgamer will be the fact that the gameboard shows no spaces or playing-grid whatsoever, but instead each of a player's ships is assigned a movement range (measuring the longer side of one of the punched ship-parts cards) for which the ship can be freely moved on the playing area - provided that it does not run ashore and does not collide with or try to move through any other ship. Using their ships' movement allowances, the players then move towards the islands on the center of the gameboard where they are allowed to draw and load treasure counters up to a ship's capacity. Having loaded their ships, the players then try to return to their home islands where they can unload their treasures to the secure vaults of their own treasure hoard.


However, fun comes into the game when they ships of two players get so close to each other that they get into firing range of their cannons (measuring the shorter side of one of the punched ship-parts cards). For each cannon in range, a player may fire a volley and possibly damage the ship of his opponent. The result of the volley is determined by the roll of a dice, and for each hit which is scored the targeted ship needs to remove a mast which basically means the loss of a cannon. If a ship looses its last mast, it is returned to the player's home island for repairs whereas the winner of the sea battle may steal some treasure from the heavily damaged ship.

More action is introduced by the horrible Curse of Davy Jones. Thus, some of the treasure counters on the islands do not show gold but will result in a curse of the player's ships, forcing that player immediately to withdraw both of his ships to the corner of the gameboard assigned to the specific curse (e.g. storm, reefs etc.). In his following turns, the haunted player now has to roll a dice for each of his ships, and only if he can reach a certain result a ship comes free and may return to the general playing area. This may delay a player's actions considerably, and an unlucky hand when drawing treasure counters may lead to a setback which becomes nearly impossible for the player to catch up with.

Another kind of curse which can be triggered through the treasure counters are the two sea monsters - the Kraken and the Sea Serpent. Like ships, these figures are assembled from a number of removable parts, and when triggered they come into play at specific positions and any player whose ships get within the range of such a monster will be forced to fight a sea battle against it. Thus, sea monsters usually can be avoided by taking a detour, but there also exist some kinds of treasure counters which may force a player into battle against a specific sea monster so that a detour is not longer a valid option.

Finally, there is also Davy Jones himself who moves among the islands of the gameboard, and if a player should be able to get to the island currently occupied by Davy Jones he may challenge him for a duel. Rolling dice and adding the respective swordmanship values of Davy Jones and the player's Captain, a player who succeeds in defeating Davy Jones will receive a special Davy Jones Treasure marker which is more valuable than the usual treasure markers which may be found among the islands, and the defeated Davy Jones will move on to haunt another island.

The game comes to its end when Davy Jones has been defeated four times, and then the players will add up the values of their collected treasures plus possible bonus points from Davy Jones treasures and defeated Sea Monsters. As may be guessed, it is the player with the highest total value of counters who has won the game.

The playing concept on which with Piraten - Das Gold von Davy Jones is based known a bit longer under its common title Pirates of the Spanish Main. In fact, Pirates of the Spanish Main is something like a collectible card game, since the players buy their new ships in booster packs containing cards for several ships and also additional playing material like crew markers and special characters, islands etc. Both - ships and markers - are of varying rarity, and thus the players have to collect and trade to get the right additions to increase the power and skills available to their flotilla.

There also exist expansions following different themes, like the Pirates of the Revolution which introduce American ships, or The Curse of Davy Jones which features different kinds of monsters, ships with unnatural crews etc. This also is the origin of the boardgame tested here, since Piraten - Das Gold von Davy Jones features a number of elements coming from this expansion. Thus, in comparison to the collectible game, Piraten - Das Gold von Davy Jones is something like a big starter pack which the players can purchase to get a good, fairly balanced starting equipment to play the game. However, the expansions available not only feature new ships and crew markers, but also new types of units like Fortresses and new rules so that the scope of the game may be enhanced considerably.

To my mind, the publication of Piraten - Das Gold von Davy Jones by a traditional publisher like AMIGO is a move which is strongly influenced by the highly popular Johnny Depp movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" which also deals with Pirates and the menacing Davy Jones. The game is meant to get the players into collecting more ships and expansions, and here Piraten - Das Gold von Davy Jones is a perfect possibility to get a first taste of the game mechanics and flair.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany