If you want to sing out...
Music is the sound of human emotion
Mayfair Games has been building its 2-player game repertoire and Gold Ahoy is one of their latest. I sat down at their booth at Pax East 2015 earlier this month and demoed it for a couple of sessions.
The theme of Gold Ahoy is pretty weak. It feels like they slapped on a pirate concept onto the mechanic simply because gamers' love pirates. Honestly, it feels watered down (no pun intended). The jist is that you and your opponent are exploring an island looking for buried treasure and who ever discovers and secures (I'll talk about what this means in a minute) the most treasure when the last tile is placed wins. There are no weapons, ships, or anything.
Each game tile has some land and some water pictured on it in a flowing pattern. Some of the tiles also have a treasure chest which is located either on the land area or in the water. Your turn consists of drawing a tile randomly, then placing it on the "board" thus creating a 6x6 grid at the end. Ostensibly, Gold Ahoy is a simpler, two-player version of Carisconne.
The goal of the game is to create the final layout such that your side of the board has more "access points" via river channels or land channels to the various treasure chests peppered about the final board. If both sides have access to the same river channel, for example, the player with most river end points on his/her side wins all of the treasure in that particular channel. Thus, as you are placing tiles, your core strategy is to limit the ability for your opponent to gain access to treasure filled land or rivers tiles while maximizing yours.
Parts & Quality
The only parts are the 36 square tiles. They are your typical one-sided, cardboard game pieces. They are easy to shuffle and stack into a draw pile or you can keep them in a Crown Royal bag to blindly draw from. There is nothing else remotely interesting about them.
The artwork is barely that. The designs of the land strips and rivers are diverse enough to keep the game play interesting, but the graphics themselves are dull and plain. The rivers are blue. The land is sandy colored. That's it. The only piece of visual interest are the treasure chests that are in various states of buried in the sand or in the river. In the end, it is a very, very boring game to look at.
Teaching & Learning
The rules are very simple game and straight forward. I sat down at a demo table and we were playing our first game in less than 5 minutes. Further, if you're familiar with Carcassonne then the strategy for tile placement isn't too hard learn on the fly either. I played the game twice with the demonstrator and won both games... then I accused him of throwing the games to the new guy
It's a simple enough game that a 7 or 8 year old could learn it without difficulty.
Downtime & Waiting
Being a 2-player game where the turns are simply drawing a tile and deciding how and where to place it on the board, the down time is negligent, perhaps 15 seconds max, but more like 5 seconds. The game play is simple enough that choosing the new tile's location isn't a deep thought endeavor.
Each game takes about 10 minutes. Like I said, teaching is less than 5 minutes and can be done while setting up. Take down takes only a minute as you pick up the tiles and put them back in the box. In short, this is a very short game.
I played twice in a row and it was fine. It's such a short game that a 2 out of 3 challenge seems appropriate. It's a nice filler game if you need to kill some time, but I certainly would be a bit bored after the 4th or 5th game.
Like Carcassonne, this game lends itself to a whole host of expansions as Mayfair dreams up additional twists for the tile placement and point scoring.
Due to it's play time and ease of learning, one could consider this a filler game. However, the problem with it being a filler game is that it is only 2-player. At game events, I rarely need a filler game for only 2 people. Usually its 3 or 5 or some other odd number of people, so I'm not sure if I'd ever carry this game somewhere. Further, because of it's lack of complexity, it's really only interesting for an adult during 1 or 2 plays in a row. A child, however, might find fun to play. In the end, I feel I have to classify this game as an entry game for a child into the genera of gaming that requires a level of thought and strategy.
I'm a fan if MayFair games but this game is a real dud for them. The theme and the artwork seem like they were slapped onto a game mechanic some one brainstormed. The game play is interesting enough, but not so much so that it'll be anyone's go-to game unless your 10 years old. I will pass on adding this game to my collection until I have a 10 year old I want to introduce to Carcassonne.