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Subject: A little gem rss

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Daniel Val
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Lifeboat is a 5 or 6 player card game designed by Jeff Siadek and published by Fat Messiah Games that plays in 30-60 minutes. The setting is this: each player takes the role of a passenger in a Victorian ship that just sunk. They have managed to climb aboard a lifeboat and now they are all trying to get to the closest shore. The supplies are limited and what is worse, some valuable objects are found among them, making greed arise. To complicate things even more, each passenger secretly hates and loves another passenger…

1) Components: The game is made of 90 playing cards in four different colours, plus 10 rules cards (yes!, the rules are printed in the cards), plus one credits cards (I wish it were a gold visa!). They are made in a “little thicker than paper” cardboard, and the artwork is cartoon type to a certain extent, but monochrome. I like it, though.
The production values may be a drawback for some people. They are usually not for me, and in this case, I must say that I have grown to like the fact that the cards are not superfancy, with all the colours in the rainbow and glow in the dark effect. Call it the “Here´s a good game, we don´t care for looks” attitude. Or probably even more accurate would be “Hey, what did you expect for 8 bucks!”.
Anyway, I realize many potential players would be disappointed with this game´s production values, so beware. These cards are really the cheapest I have ever seen, and I would not ever dare to shuffle without card sleeves (They are a MUST in this game)

So what kind of cards do you get?
There are six different character cards, some with a special ability (like scoring double for jewels or not being injured when thrown overboard), and with different size (which accounts for life points and also how hard you hit in case a fight starts on board) and survival values (the points you score if you make it to the shore). Survival value is inversely proportional to size. The bigger you are, the harder you are to kill, and therefore you will not score much for surviving.
For each character you also get a love card, a hate card and a placeholder which indicates your relative position on the boat.
There are also 42 provision cards with water, first aid kits, weapons, cash, jewels, paintings… Who on Earth packed the emmergency lifeboat! My favourite item is the “Bucket of Chum”. These guys are starving in the middle of the ocean, but if one character goes overboard someone will be kind enough to throw food to the water in order to attract sharks and have someone bitten.
Last, but not least, there are 24 navigation cards. They will determine where the boat is going this turn (nearer or not to the coast).

2) Gameplay: At the beginning of the game everyone randomly picks a character (which is public knowledge) and then is secretly dealt a love (the character you want to see surviving) and a hate card (the character you want to see dead). Those two last cards cannot ever be revealed until the game ends.
Each character is seated from bow (fore) to stern (aft) depending on the setup number printed on their placeholder card. Then everyone gets a random provision card and the provision deck is set at the boat´s bow. Then the navigation deck is shuffled and is set at the boat´s stern.
The playing sequence is as follows:

-Quartermaster: The closest able-bodied character to the bow of the boat draws as many provisions cards as able-bodied characters are onboard. He looks at them and keeps one. The rest are passed to the character seated behind who keeps one and passes the rest down and so on. When the provision deck runs out, you skip this phase.

-Player action: In order of seating, you either row, try to reseat, try to mug, perform a special action like using the first aid kit, open the parasol or signal with the flare gun… or simply do nothing.
If you row you draw a navigation card, look at it and place it face down on the row stack (if you like it) or on the bottom of the navigation deck (if you don´t).
Reseating means you trade seats with another player. If he refuses, a fight starts. More on that later.
If you mug someone you randomly pick a card from another player. If that player refuses, another fight begins.
Players may freely trade and make deals while this is going on, but trading must inmediatly stop the moment a fight begins.

-Navigation: The closest able-bodied character to the stern is the navigator. He picks up the row stack adding the top card from the navigation deck and then chooses one card to play. Navigation cards may show a bird icon, indicating you are getting closer to the shore. When four birds show up, you reach the shore and the game is over. The navigation cards also show which characters go overboard (and suffer an injury from exhaustation) and which suffer thirst injury (avoidable by the play of a water provision card). Suffering thirst injuries may be linked to rowing or fighting during the action phase.

How do fights work? After someone refuses reseating or being mugged, a fight between those two characters begins. Other characters may take sides in the fight (sometime due to their love/hate affections, or simply because they are offered a card/s).
Finally you total up the size number of all characters including the weapons played. The high total wins, and ties go to the defender. All losers suffer one injury. Victorious attackers then complete their reseating or mugging. Easy!

Characters can be injured from fighting, thirst and going overboard, remaining able-bodied until injuries equal size, at which point that character is incapacitated. Inacapacitated characters cannot perform any action, although they may still trade cards and other characters may use one´s cards if they are asked to.
If injuries exceed size, the character is dead.

So… Who wins!? The one with the most points, duh! You score points for cash, paintings, jewels, surviving, killing your hated character and making your beloved survive. You can even win after you´re dead. Your scoring provisions are passed on to your heir. I liked that!

That´s it! You could play right away after reading this. The game plays fast, no downtime and believe me, people will normally ask for a second game. A little roleplaying, faked French accents, or aristocratic poses in some characters will improve the gaming experience.

One little detail that I enjoy very much about the game… What happens if you hate or love yourself? If you love yourself, you are a narcissist, and score double for personal survival. If you hate yourself, you are secretly a sociopath and hate everyone (except yourself and your loved one), scoring their size if they die. You do not score your own survival unless you are also a narcissist.

3) Overall impression: I definitely LOVE this little gem, and it is one of my personal top 10 games. I think the theme is so original, and the interactions between players can get really funny when you love a character who hates you (You are trying to save him and he is trying to kill you!!). Fights will start revealing temporary alliances, and players should always be ready to deal with a potential sociopath who is trying to kill everyone. Cool!
Some people don´t like the player elimination factor, but considering the game plays pretty fast, it´s not really bad, and most of the times they still enjoy watching the show. They may even win after all!
Some characters are harder to play than others, particularly the kid (because he´s weak), but he scores huge points if he survives.
I always bring this game with me when I know there will be 6 people playing. You can also drag some non gamers in, if they are not too close minded.

That´s it! I hope I didn´t bore you too much… Now if you´ll excuse me, I am taking this cruiser across the atlantic…
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Brian Baird
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I love this game. It makes a great lunchtime game with the group at work as long as there's six players, and I'd love to get my own copy. It seems to be incredibly hard to find due to the limited print run.
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Daniel Val
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fenners wrote:
I'd love to get my own copy. It seems to be incredibly hard to find due to the limited print run.


I was going to give you the link to Sierra Madre games, which apparently still sell Fat Messiah games, but Lifeboat is not in their catalog.
I think your best bet is some other company decides to reprint this game (possibly with higher production values). Good luck!
 
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Jeff Siadek
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Thanks all for the kind words regarding Lifeboat. I like it too.

I will be publishing it in the first quarter next year under the Gorilla Games banner.

Jeff Siadek
Designer
Lifeboat
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Daniel Val
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ourhero wrote:
Thanks all for the kind words regarding Lifeboat. I like it too.

I will be publishing it in the first quarter next year under the Gorilla Games banner.

Jeff Siadek
Designer
Lifeboat


That's really great news!

Any changes from the previous edition?
 
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Brian Baird
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Sweet, that's great news, Jeff.
 
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Tony Rowe
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Excellent! This has been too long in coming; Lifeboat is finally getting the reprint that it deserves. May this print run sell out, too (but not before Brian gets a copy)!
 
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Buster Brown
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Good news about it being re-printed in 2007! This sounds like just my kind of game. Count me in for buying a copy Jeff!
 
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Sinister
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ourhero wrote:
Thanks all for the kind words regarding Lifeboat. I like it too.

I will be publishing it in the first quarter next year under the Gorilla Games banner.

Jeff Siadek
Designer
Lifeboat



I hope with my added shark rule!!!


Shark Rule Patent pending! LOL


I normally hate card games and with the exception of grave robbers from outter space never play them. This game, however, rocks. I've had the fortune of being both the backstabber and the backstabby with Mr. Siadek
 
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Hector Gonzalez
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I was amazed when I saw Z-man was reprinting "lifeboats". I thought it was this great game. But it´s not, its a reprint of another shipwrecked-voting game I don´t know whether funnier.
I want a reprint of this game!!
(do know if the other "lifeboats" game is a good game?)
 
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Sinister
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this game is now out!!!
 
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Daniel Val
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Cool!
 
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