This is our first english review ever. You can check it out with many pictures at http://modgameart.es/blog/rum-bones-english-review/
If you prefer to read it in spanish: http://modgameart.es/blog/rum-bones
– What is it
Rum & Bones is the new game from Cool Mini Or Not, publishers of the well known Zombicide and Arcadia Quest games. This time they try to adapt the mechanics of the video game genre MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) as League Of Legends, DOTA2 or Heroes of the Storm, into a frantic board game set in the middle of the final battle of Pirates of the Caribbean.
– How to play
The game is even easier than Arcadia Quest. You can just go and play just reading the last page of the manual, which is used as reference. The whole instructions last just a few pages, well written and easy to follow. Each player controls one of the two opposing pirate ships connected by three planks. There are 5 targets, each one with 8 health points and worth 2 victory points. The first player to reach 6 VP wins. The sequence order is always the same:
1- Put a coin in each hero card. Coins are used to activate special abilities as explained in each hero card.
2- Shoot the cannons: choose one area, throw 4 dice, and every 4 or more causes 1 hit (objectives are immune to gunfire, except the Kraken and the Sea Dragon).
3- Place 2 Deckhands (the small minions) in each of the three areas of deployment. Then put 2 Bosuns (the bigger minions) distributed as you wish among those three areas.
4- Each area with minions rolls attack, one die per mini, hitting with 4+ (3+ if at least one Bosun is present). then all minions move 1 area forward.
5- Place Heroes in play, up to a maximum of 3, each one in a different deployment area.
6- Activate the heroes, and then discard the cards you do not want and draw up to our maximum hand size, initially 3.
Each hero activation allows up to 3 actions, which can be either use one of the skills explained in its Hero card (the 1st is a free attack, with various effects, while the other two need coins to be activated) or move. Each move action can be used to move 2 areas, although if the Hero is at the edge of a ship, he can do a "Rigging", flying from one ship to the other using a rope. To do it, count the number of areas that you want to move, and that’s the number you need in one die roll. If you fail, the hero falls overboard, losing all coins and the rest of the turn, but returns to play at the beginning of the next turn.
Each minion killed by a hero grants him one coin, and if a hero is ‘KOed’ by another, the winner takes all the coins from the loser, which is placed on his own card, with the big Davy Jones coin showing the dark side up. At the beginning of the turn the coin is turned to show its golden side, and next turn coin is removed, and the hero is ready to return. A hero with that coin still counts toward the maximum 3 in play.
A Tide card in your deck will invoke the Sea Dragon, which destroys one of the planks and each turn will attack around it. The most powerful Tide cards will show symbol(s) of the Kraken, and at the end of each turn if the the sum of two dice equals or exceeds the amount of such symbols, the Kraken appears… and will clean half of the board. And will keep cleaning at every turn. But at least they both give 2 VP for the player who defeats each one of them.
– What do we think
The game is as easy as it sounds, but it is very funny, and it really gives you that feeling of playing a pirate MOBA using a board game instead of your screen. The minions keep going forward continuously and there is no limit to the amount of minis in a single area, as slong as they are from the same player, so the planks lines will be overcrowded and you will need to do rigging and advance fast with your heroes to hit the objectives as soon as possible.The order to assign impacts is: Deckhand > Bosun > Hero > Objective, so you need to build tactics and plan ahead… until the Kraken destroys it all (especially for the poor player who used the cards with the most Krakens). The Kickstarter came with an incredible amount of extras, many of them just aesthetic (dice, coins, guns, tentacles, dragon …) but the additional deck of cards and especially the new heroes is what gives the game a whole new life.
The game is explained in less than 10 minutes and doubts are resolved quickly with a quick search. All figures (and the rest of components) are of extremely high quality. They are probably the best sculptures ever from Cool Mini Or Not, you have to take a close look to believe it. And there are a lot of them, with 3 different Deckhand models per faction. The game can be played with children around 8 years old, if Hero abilities are explained. Choosing different Heroes for your team is as easy as placing the right colored base under (similar to those used in Arcadia Quest).The 5 colors of the heroes immediately help to identify each role. Combat is fast and fun. In fact the game is very entertaining and the time playing it will be a blast.
In MOBA games you depend on your own skills to survive, but this is kind of a festival of throwing dice, with some tactics choosing who, where and how, and what to do with the Tide Cards, of course, but dice rolling still prevails. It’s supposed to be played by up to 6 players, but the game is really just for 2, with the other modes not working that well. In the video tutorial of Cool Mini Or Not, they finished a game in 70 minutes explaining the steps, but we try hard to go for the objectives as soon as possible, do all possible rigging and don’t mess that much with minions and other heroes… but it is still hard to finish in less than 2 hours. But the biggest problem here is the lack of replayability: you can exchange some heroes and yes, each game is different, but you really really need new heroes if you don’t want to feel tired too soon.
– Final Rating
There are not so many easy, fun and spectacular games that work well with two players. Rum & Bones meets all these requirements, but the core game falls short, not so much in value, but in the lack of variety within the basic box. Our final note is 7 out of 10, rising to 8 if expansions with new heroes are added (like those Kickstarter pledges).
Don't make me exile you.
How many plays did it take for the game to become "stale" with just the core box? I'm still teaching new players with just the core and it's still great to me.