It’s been a LONG time since this Klaus Teuber design has hit the table. With six gamers available, it seemed a nice selection as it does involve some elements of negotiation. I was just completing the rules explanation when Elizabeth arrived, so I joined her as a ‘team’. The seven sailors were Willerd, Clyde, Michael, Jim, Keith, Elizabeth and myself.
Since it has been awhile since the game hit our table (2/17/99, to be exact), I’ll repeat my description of it from that report.
This title was released by Parker and unfortunately never made it to the States. The theme is based on the dreaded Flying Dutchman and players efforts to keep that ghost pirate away from the sailing ships of the companies you hold stock in. For if the Dutchman crosses paths with one of your ships, the value of the company plummets and the player is forced to pay financial penalties. Keep the Dutchman away!
Play is rather simple. Each player holds a total of three stocks in one or more of the six trading companies. Each turn that the Dutchman 'visits' a ship at sea, the value of that company's stock plummets to zero, while all other shares increase in value one step on the track. Players try to keep the Dutchman away from the ships of the companies in which they hold stock and steer him towards their opponent's companies. Since stock is kept hidden, one can never be quite sure who holds which stocks.
How does the Dutchman move? Each round, two special dice are rolled which determine a 'magic' number. This usually ranges from 20 - 49. Players each have a collection of horseshoes (used for luck to ward off the Dutchman) with various values printed on them which can be used to try to gain control of the Dutchman for the round and determine its movement.
A player can take one of three possible actions during his turn. He can either:
1) Play a 'Kondor' card which allows him to exchange two stocks from his hand with two from the draw pile. A player only has 3 of these 'Kondor' cards for the entire game so must use them wisely.
2) Play a 'Schmied' card which allows him to take all (or some, if more than one player plays a 'Schmied' card) of the horseshoes that had been played in previous rounds. Again, a player only has 3 'Schmied' cards for the entire game, so care must be exercised as to the timing of their use.
3) Play a combination of horseshoes to try to match, or come as close to without going over, the magic number.
If more than one player matches the magic number, then those players must unanimously decide on how to move the Dutchman. This involves negotiation and may involve bribery with money. If unanimity cannot be achieved through this negotiation, then those players must again place horseshoes to see who matches or comes closest to the magic number. This process continues until a unanimous agreement is reached amongst the tied players, or only one player matches the magic number. The Dutchman is then moved to one of the adjacent ships or islands.
If he is moved to a ship, all players who hold stock in that ship's company must PAY the current value of each share they own in that company to the bank. If a player does not have enough money to pay this penalty, he is bankrupt and out of the game. The share value of that company then drops to zero. Finally, every share value is increased by one space on the track.
If an island is chosen as the movement location for the Dutchman, then all of the players who participated in the moving of the Dutchman can collect the value in case of one of the shares they own (their choice of which company). No share values increase on this round.
This process continues until the black marker, which moves along with the share values, reaches the end of the track. At that time, players tally their cash and share values to determine the victor.
I find this game amusing with a nice touch of negotiation, card / horseshoe management and guesswork. On nearly every turn, one of your companies is at risk of visitation from the feared Dutchman, so there is always the temptation to play horseshoes so you can be involved in the negotiations as to where the Dutchman is to be moved (hopefully, away from your ships!). One must also re-fill one's horseshoe supply occasionally, but must be careful not to try to do this when other players exercise the same option on that turn. Otherwise, a promising supply of horseshoes may be split several ways, yielding a mere pittance for each player. Finally, one must also weigh when to ditch shares of a company and select new shares in anticipation of a visit from the Dutchman.
Elizabeth and I were visited by the Dutchman early, causing us to surrender some of our treasure. Willerd proved to be the most popular guest, however, constantly being harassed by the ghost ship. He was constantly forced to surrender funds and was never able to get away from the haunting ship. In fact, on the final turn of the game, after a long and tense six-round sequence of playing horseshoes in an effort to control the direction of the ship, Michael edged Keith for control and chose to send the ship to the ‘red’ shipping line. A disgusted Willerd tossed out his three stock cards – all red! This bankrupted him, a fitting conclusion to the constant terror he had experienced.
Clyde had proven financially successful, acquiring the most loot during the game. The money was just enough to hold off Elizabeth and I, whose share values were at the top of the charts.
Finals: Clyde 74, Elizabeth/Greg 69, Michael 63, Keith 49, Jim 32, Willerd 6
Ratings: Keith 8, Elizabeth 7.5, Michael 7.5, Jim 7.5, Greg 7, Clyde 6, Willerd 2
I genuinely felt sorry that Willerd didn’t enjoy Der Fliegende Hollander. This is certainly unusual for him. Although his preferences lie in military conflict and simulation games, Willerd is always amenable to playing a wide variety of games and usually enjoys just about anything we play