Ready for something a little more piratey? Tortuga 1667.

Ahoy Landlubbers, settle ye down while I tell ye about Tortugaaarrrhhh. What better day be there for reviewing a pirate game. Why? It’s only talk like a pirate day! Arrrhh-where’s me rum?
Don’t worry I’m packing it in now. There will be no more pirate talk. (Well, maybe a bit).
It would be criminal if I did not start with the box. To say it is beautifully presented sells it short. The box is a fake antique book with a distressed leather bound look. Inside there is more than adequate room for the gorgeous play mat, pieces and cards. It couldn’t be any more beautiful. It even closes with a satisfyingly secure thunk. No elastic bands holding this lid on!
Another lovely feature of the game is how well it adheres to the theme. The cards are well designed and beautifully illustrated but just as important is the text: clear instructions with appropriate vocabulary – cards like Cabin Fever, Crow’s Nest all add to the atmosphere of the game which at the end of the day is quite piratey!
All ‘brethren of the coast’ (character) cards are based on real pirates which is interesting to read about in the Instruction Booklet. But… once again I find myself faced with two token girl characters. Small mercies – they aren’t busty or simpering. But two?? There are 5 people in my household – 3 girls, 2 boys. To play this game as with so many others one of us will have to be a boy. Maybe it’s deliberate, some sort of cynical preparation for girls, readying them for a future where what’s in the front of your pants decides how much you earn. But more likely it’s just thoughtless, a kind of casual acceptance of everyday sexism. But, as with so many other games we move on from that and enjoy the game.
Roight then landlubbers enough of all this parlez. Let’s gerron with the game…
The object of the game is to grab (and keep the other team’s mucky paws off) the treasure. One of the first nice twists is that everyone has loyalty; either French, British or in a nine player game – Dutch. But this loyalty is hidden from all other players. Even your crewmates.
In fact there are lots of murky depths* to this game. There are a good variety of actions available to you each turn. You can view events, reveal and resolve events or having viewed events on a previous turn force another player to resolve an event. All complicated by the fact that you want the most treasure for your team but who is really on your side? Loyalties are only revealed once the game is over.
*I only said I would try not to be piratey. No-one said anything about crap puns.
Amongst the actions you might catch scurvy and miss a turn, be marooned or maroon other players or blow up a rowing boat (there are only 2!). The roles of Captain, First Mate and Cabin Boy are all up for grabs and can be gained through mutiny or action cards.
Vote cards allow players to support an attack, brawl or mutiny. Vote cards can be used judiciously to further your strategy but strategies can be scuppered by backing the wrong crewmate: tricksy.
When the Spanish Armada arrives the game ends and the team with the most booty wins.
The Facts:
20-40 minutes
2-9 players (we played one 2 player game but it is much better with more players.)
Age: 13+ (It is a reasonably complex game but I’m sure as with all games, familiarity makes it more accessible. I like the fact that you can look through the discard pile. The instructions explicitly state that this is not a memory game which is refreshing to read.)
Albatross. Bloody albatross.
Come along and try it at a Cards or Die event.
If you’re looking for some background music for your seafaring games you should check out She Shanties – a fabulous rousing shanty crew.

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