Skullduggery, it seems, is the perfect game to introduce a youngster to the more complex aspects of game play.
The game play is fairly simple. Players move their pieces and move their tiles. At the end of their turn they move pirates in an effort to stymie their competition. It can be relatively easy to cut-off a given player through some conniving teamwork, but this can be circumvented largely by avoiding tiles along the edge if you're the unfortunate victim.
Besides the aforementioned exploit the rules are balanced and easy to pick up. Having tried to iterate over the rules of more complex games to an audience that is less than enthusiastic, it is refreshing to play a game that one can pick up as they go along and still play effectively.
The dice mechanic is good for youngsters because it lessens the impact of poor strategic choice by making luck a strong factor. To some this is a detraction, but given the likely audience - young people and casual board gamers, it seems to be the right balance.
The game pieces are all standard hand painted plastic. The gameboard is made of relatively sturdy card and the custom dice add some flair. The big, black dice are a nice touch - complete with jolly-roger on a face.
Given the price of the game, the production quality is, on the whole, quite good.
The illustrations and box art are certainly above standard. All too often generic clip art, or poorly composed and rendered portraiture is supposed sufficient as decoration. Everything has a hand-rendered look to it, most of it clearly was.
Goal of Design vs. Implementation
I believe something like a game can only be reviewed within the context of what is apparently attempting to achieve. Reviewing something based on what it isn't trying to be is illegitimate. This is a general audience game , it is somewhat of a misfit for BoardGameGeeks given this. If you're a board game geek and have a bunch of friends who aren't, this should be part of your collection. It is something casual players of all ages can pick up and play.
Having just recently snagged a MENSA Select award it clearly has some merit.
Having recently registered, but lurked for significantly longer, I thought this would be a good game to start my reviews with. It's new, it's simple and it's Canadian!