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I'm a very diverse gamer, who enjoys playing all types of games. I usually enjoy Euro games the most and party games the least, but there are exceptions to both. I am 24 years old, and play board games at least twice a week if not more with very varied demographics. I am trying to give more focus to my opinions and perceptions in my reviews instead of regurgitating component lists and rulebooks, especially for older games that other people have reviewed multiple times.
I picked up this game a few weeks after having played it for the first time with some friends at one of my groups. We were looking for a quick game, not to complicated, so we decided to give this a try. Cape Horn is in essence a racing game, where players are trying to be the first to sail around Cape Horn and cross the finish line. Along the way players have to pass specific checkpoints in order to win. It hasn't seen tremendous amounts of play in my group since I bought it, but the few times it has hit the table we have had a good time.
What you get in the box
The game includes a ship miniature and a player mat for each player, a game board, and many wind tiles. It also has chits for players to mark the visited checkpoints and wooden markers to keep track of sail points.
At first glance, all the components seem of good quality and sturdy material. The player mat (or 'logbook') is very well done, as it has a great summary of the rules and the turn order printed right on it. When I teach this game to new players I have them read the mat first, and I can usually explain the rest of the rules in about 5 more minutes. The same can be said for the sail point track. The starting position for the marker is printed on the mat, so we always remember when we start a new game after not playing for some time. The board also features pre-printed locations for starting pieces and where they go according to the amount of players. The minimal setup time for this game is great.
If there is a fault to be found with the components is the wind tiles. The tiles are placed on the board, which is divided into three zones. When the wind tiles are placed in a zone, they must be facing the right direction. The first time we played the game, we had trouble differentiating which side of the tile was the top and which was the bottom, since you cannot always tell by looking at the arrows. You have to look at the number printed on the tile and the gradient of the back ground. Still, new players require a few turns in order to really grasp the tile placement.
Setup and Game play
Each player takes a mat, places the sail point marker in the starting position and their ship on the board corresponding to their order (player playing first places his/her ship on the "1" spot on the board, second player on the "2" and so on) and grabs their starting tiles and the colored markers for the checkpoints. Then you place the numbered checkpoint markers on the board on the matching squares, and you are ready to play.
Game play proceeds in a very simple fashion. Turn order is:
1. Get a sail point
2. Place wind tiles (as many as you would like from the ones you have available, following placement rules)
3. Sail (choose a direction from the ones available on the wind tile your ship is sitting on, and move the amount of spaces listed)
4. Collect new wind tile(s).
You may also do some special actions by spending sail points, which are all listed in the player mat (see image above).
The object of the game is to be the first one to cross the finish line after visiting 2 different colored checkpoints in 2 zones, OR be the first to collect 3 different colored checkpoints from the 3 different zones. From our play experience, both ways to win are pretty equal in terms of difficulty to complete. In order to explain the checkpoints, look at the image of the board above. If you notice, there are three clusters of the checkpoints (they don't necessarily correspond to the zone divisions on the board). The first one is the most irregular one, since the red checkpoint is a little farther west that the other two. There is a green, a red and a yellow checkpoint in each zone. The important part, is that once you collect a color in one zone, you may not collect that color again, or another checkpoint in that zone.
Placing wind tiles correctly and sail point management are the secrets to winning this game. You place wind tiles in order to advance your ship AND hinder your opponents. However you have a limited supply of tiles, so making the best use of them is crucial. Like I mentioned in the components section of the review, something that took some time to get used to was figuring out the orientation of the wind tiles. In the board image above, you can see that it is divided into 3 zones, the yellow, the blue and the red zone. The top of the tiles placed in the yellow zone must face south, in the blue zone they must face west and in the red zone north.
We have fun when we play this game; it is just not as memorable as other ones in my collection and therefore usually gets outplayed by other games. It is a simple game, VERY easy to learn and VERY easy to set up. My fiancée is not a big gamer (other than party games) and she was able to get into this game and have fun. The tiles mechanics vary a lot depending on who you play with. I have played games where we were not as cut-throat about the tiles, and I have played others where people were more worried about hindering other players than advancing their own. It seems the common strategy in our group is to hang around 2nd and 3rd place in order to keep people focused on deterring the leading player and pulling off the win closer to the end.
This is a game to pick up if you have non-hardcore players in your group and you find it cheap at the store.
Fun: Difficulty: Length: (max: 5)
I think you'll find if you play with serious gamers who don't have problems with the directional aspect of the tiles and are willing to be brutal in tile placement to delay their opponents, it's a much better game.