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Subject: Groggy - Creaking Shelves reviews Rum rss

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Creaking Shelves
United Kingdom
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This review was original posted on the Creaking Shelves blog: Check it out for more reviews and curated Kickstarter coverage.

Matt: RUM! By God is it not the most wonderful of liquids!? Mojitos, Daiquiris, just with coke or hell, neat! Blessed be those who bring rum!

Marc: No, Matt, it’s a game. We’re here to review the game: Rum.

Matt: Oh I – yeah obviously! I was just…pretending, you know, to be a pirate.


Matt: I don’t have a problem!

Groggily he opened his eyes, squinting at first against the glare of the sun. He could hear the sound of the sea washing up against the shore and some bird’s cry in the air. He spat sand from his mouth. Where the hell was he? Oh…

There a short way down the shore was the wreckage of his ship, reduced to little more than driftwood, his cargo spread over the ocean. The cargo! He leapt to his feet and sprinted towards the wreck. It can’t all be gone!? No! There! A glint. He swerved towards it, coat flapping behind him, not hearing the sound approaching from behind. A bottle! Was it still intact!? He grabbed it from the sands and held it aloft. A solid whole bottle, and from the light playing across his face it was clear there remained within the glorious nectar! Slowly he lifted it towards his lips –

Marc: Seriously Matt!

Matt: Ssshhh! You’re ruining the story!

Marc: Just tell us about the game!

Matt: Ok fine! In Rum, players are shipwrecked pirates and, as we all know, in a survival situation the first task you should perform is to secure a reliable source of liquor. Goodness knows, you’re going to need it! So players will be searching the beach, and the wreckage for Rum. Fortunately, this ship was laden down with so much of the stuff that, quite frankly, I’m not surprised they crashed. Sadly in any situation like this it just descends into a contest to see who can drink, I mean collect, the most.

Now, as we all know, Rum comes in seven different bright primary colours and collecting sets of one or other colour will earn you the respect of your peers, both in the game and in real life!

Marc: I’m not sure that’s true, Matt.

Matt: That rather depends on who your peers are, Marc. Now, the larger the set of colours you reveal, the more points you can earn in that colour, tracked by taking the correspondingly coloured score card and rotating it to the number you claimed. However, any score is only as safe as it is large for, by playing a larger set, another player may steal that score card off you. While that gets harder and harder to do as the game goes on, there is a way to circumvent things – the infamous Chris Handy Rum Trio.

The Chris Handy Rum Trio is represented in game by collecting all three single bottles of a given colour. This irresistible cocktail (whose recipe we shall of course share at the end of this review) is able to overcome even the hardiest of pirate metabolisms and ensure you can successfully spirit away any score card no matter its value. Plus, you automatically increase its value by 2 as you do so! A powerful manoeuvre that is equally difficult to set up, as there are only 3 single rum bottles of each colour available.

Cards, much like people after drinking a Chris Handy Rum Trio, can be either face up or face down, in this case on the beach or in the shipwreck, respectively, and you may freely collect from either on your turn. As cards are taken from the beach they are replaced face down until all are face down and the tide washes in new face up bottles (meaning you flip them over). The reason for this contrived system? Let me introduce you to the parrot.

The parrot is a dick.

Hiding in wait for foolish players in the ship wreck, the parrot will descend like a force of nature to steal your rum cards, as well as advance the game towards its conclusion (a man can only take so many parrot attacks). The last thing you want to do is stumble across him while exploring the wreck, making dipping into that pile of facedown cards a tense risk, for you, and a piece of delightfully morbid comedy for your fellow pirates. However, if no one stumbles across him in the wreck he will eventually appear on the beach to terrorise everyone: you all lose cards according to the current position of the clock card.

With this rule, the collecting and playing of sets is turned into a tight game of push your luck: you might want to collect more bottles before playing but the realities of living beneath the steal claws of the parrot make this unfeasible. It also adds an entertaining shift in perspective once you have played your cards, suddenly you’re desperate to see the parrot come out while everyone else’s hands are full!

However, the whole system doesn’t work as well at some player counts as others. At 2 players, the parrot might barely make an appearance at all (the game ending instead once a player has collected a certain number of points), plus you lose that group banter and mocking that makes the higher player counts more entertaining. And this game features a strong luck element, it really needs the banter. On the other hand, at 4 players there’s not so much pushing as just luck as you’ll be having far fewer turns between parrot attacks. However, the games short length mitigates against this and as a group you’ll be bemoaning your luck and raging against fate. And it heightens the feeling of success when you manage to pull together a set and play them. 3 players is really this game’s sweet spot if you want a reasonable sense of agency.

Rum is entertaining, quick and straightforward, and so is this game. The score and clock cards are fiddly, and require some coordination around the table to make sure everyone knows which way they are facing, but they work within the confines of the incredibly small box and component list. There isn’t too much depth but it does work nicely as an entertaining filler. Especially given it’s tiny footprint.

Now that’s out of the way we can get on with the important things!

The Chris Handy Rum Trio

Ingredients: Rum, 3 measures*

*measures can be anything you want them to be. The bigger the better.


Pour into a suitably sized glass/bucket.

Find somewhere safe to lie down.


Marc: Matt, this is just rum! Its not a cocktail! Its –

Matt: Sssshhh. Lie back, just drink.

Rating: Groggy

Our copy of Rum was kindly provided to us by its designer and publisher, Chris Handy. It, and several other games in the Pack O’ Games series will be available from Kickstarter from March 3rd. You can check out our thoughts on the other games in the Pack O’ Games here:

This review was original posted on the Creaking Shelves blog: Check it out for more reviews and curated Kickstarter coverage.
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Wim Leenaerts
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On the other hand, at 4 players there’s not so much pushing as just luck as you’ll be having far fewer turns between parrot attacks.

Played my first game of this yesterday with 4 players and while we all enjoyed this little game this was the biggest complaint of the game. You really couldn't save up to make bigger sets because the parrot would come out every two turns or so, thus making the game a little too random and less rewarding.
I understand why the mechanic is there but because the number of cards doesn't change with the number of players the threat of the parrot is too big with four players.
Afterwards I figured that adjusting the castaway clock for four players could be a solution: instead of having to give up 2 or 3 cards, make it 1 or 2 cards. Any thoughts on that?

Entertaining review btw!
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