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Subject: Memoarrr! - A Detailed Review rss

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Image Courtesy of W Eric Martin

This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

If you liked the review please thumb the top of the article so others have a better chance of seeing it and I know you stopped by. Thanks for reading.

Summary

Game Type – Family Card Game
Play Time: 10-20 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4
Mechanics – Memory, Modular Board
Difficulty – Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 10 minutes)
Components – Very Good
Release – 2017

Designer – Carlo Bortolini - (Debut Design)

Overview and Theme

Most times in this hobby I know about a game pretty well before I pick it up. But occasionally there is the enigma. Memoarrr! (put some pirate into it!!!) is one of the exceptions.

When I first started seeing it pop up I did what I suspect many a gamer would, I dismissed it. Why? Well a quick click to get to the game page told me that this was a game based on the notion of memory. Absurd right? We all played some form of memory game as a young child and had moved on by the age of 8 or so.

But I kept seeing this one pop up here and there and some people even had the audacity to suggest that this game was even...good?

So having found myself at a gaming con with my partner in the January of 2018, and seeing this sitting on the library shelf...well I had to find out for myself.

I'll give you a choice of pirate hat, eye patch or pegleg. Make it snappy landlubber! We have to work out if this is worthy of being buried treasure or if we should make it walk the plank.

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The Components

A card-based memory game needs two things...cards and a minimal rule set.

d10-1 Grid Cards – The cards used by the game are square in nature and about 20% bigger than the average card size.

Each card features two distinct elements - an animal and a terrain, which serves as a background. The animals include a penguin, walrus, crab, turtle and octopus. The terrains feature ocean, beach, jungle, volcanic and flowers.

Every card combination of animal and landscape is unique. No two cards are the same.

The cards really stand out for their vibrant colour palette and thankfully it is appealing rather than gaudy. The animals are cute and some of them feature little pirate flourishes to support the theme of the title.

The backs of the cards feature a cloud or fog design, which I guess represents the 'fog of war'? You know what I'm getting at...the fact that a card is unknown until it is flipped. The largely white colouring of the card backs is a great contrast to the vibrant colours of the flipped cards.

The card thickness is pretty good for a game of this weight and cost.


Image Courtesy of MeeplePeat


d10-2 Treasure Cards – The game features a total of 7 Treasure Cards. These depict a mountain of gold on them, but what is really important is how many rubies are found on each of the cards in amongst the gold piles. Each card features somewhere between 1 and 4 rubies.

The rear of the Treasure Cards are adorned with an illustration of a classic Treasure Chest, which reminds me of my 'Legend of Zelda' adventuring days.


Image Courtesy of MeeplePeat


d10-3 Volcano Cards – The final set of in-game cards are the Volcano Cards. The central illustration is rather obvious, but again, the feature that really matters is how many birds are depicted flying in the sky. There are 3 of these cards with 1, 3 and 7 birds being depicted on each one.

The only nuisance here is that the Volcano Cards are double-sided, showing the number of birds on both sides. This means that when shuffling them, you feel compelled to do it under the table or something so you can't see them.

It would have made more sense to have the birds omitted from one side of the cards so they could be shuffled normally. It's a small point but one worth pointing out.


Image Courtesy of MeeplePeat


d10-4 Game Layout and Reference Cards – The game is pretty simple to come to grips with but the publisher clearly wanted to make the game accessible even to first time game players.

So it also includes Game Layout and double-sided Reference Cards for each player. The Game Layout Cards are pretty self-explanatory, showing how the grid should be created and where the Treasure and Volcano Cards should be placed. The Reference Cards outline the basic flow of a turn on one side and the rules for the Expert Game on the other.

Most experienced players won't need this for more than a play or two but if your group only plays the game every few months then they could be quite handy as a reminder.


Image Courtesy of MeeplePeat


d10-5 Rules – The rules are much longer than they perhaps need to be for a game of this weight, but they do an excellent job of giving examples, spacing text and using illustrations throughout.

Everything is covered (including the Expert Variant) on a fold-out double sided large leaflet. If Pegasus Spiele the publisher was aiming for a non-threatening rule-set to appeal to novice gamers, they have done well as the rules come across as friendly (no large slabs of text) and accessible.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


Overall I think Memoarrr! is an excellent production. The components feel like quality for a game of this weight and they got it all to fit into a box size that takes up only the required real estate on our gaming selves.


Image Courtesy of Nebenerwerbsbauer


Set-Up

Much like classic memory games, this one needs the formation of a grid. All of the Grid Cards are shuffled together and laid out to form a grid with a gap in the center. This will mean that one card is not used in every game (only 24 of the 25 are used) and this helps create one anomaly with each play. This is because the full card set features 5 of each animal and 5 of each background, but with one card removed there will be one animal\background missing.

The Treasure Cards are shuffled together and placed in the center of the grid.

On top of the Treasure Cards are placed the Volcano Cards (1 less than the number of players [so 1-3]). These are randomly shuffled.

Each player is then allowed to look at the 3 central cards on their side of the grid (in the center). This allows the players to start with some knowledge before play begins...if they can remember what they saw.

A start player is selected and the game is ready to begin.

The Play

Memoarrr! is a family filler card game, so it will take you longer to read how the game is played than it would to hear me explain it in person.

This summary will cover the basic game and then I'll cover the expert game.

d10-1 Key Terminologies –

Image Courtesy of MeeplePeat
There are two key terms and concepts that are worth covering. The game is played over a series of rounds, with a round being defined as a series of player turns that result in players being eliminated until one is left standing.

Despite being a game largely involving memory, Memoarrr! calls finding a match a 'connection'. This is because there are two ways that a card can be linked to another and a player is required to make a connection to the last card revealed.

This is similar, yet different, to classic memory where a player is trying to reveal two cards that match one another. Here a player will only flip one card on their turn with the aim being to try and make a connection to the last card revealed (by the last player).

d10-2 Start Player Selects a Card – The game begins with the start player selecting any single card to reveal. The only restriction here is that they cannot choose one of the 3 cards that the players were allowed to take a peek at.

In this way the Start Player can never be eliminated on that first turn because they are not required to make a connection, they simply get things started.

This ends the start player's first turn.

d10-3 Find a Connection – Play moves to the next player in clockwise order. They now have a requirement that must be met, lest they be eliminated from the round. The player needs to reveal another card and it must form a connection to the last card revealed.

mb What is a Connection? - A card is regarded as having a connection to the last card revealed if it features either the animal or the background (landscape) of the last card.

So if the last card featured an octopus in front of a water background, one of those two features must be revealed by the next player by revealing another card.

d10-4 Success and Failure – If a player reveals a card that shares a connection to the last card revealed, they survive and play moves to the next player. Now it is they that must find a connection.

If a player fails to reveal a card that shares a connection to the last card, they are eliminated. They take the top Volcano Card and sit out for the rest of the round. They should still pay attention to the play though as they can still learn where certain cards are located within the grid.

The next player then takes their turn. They must now find a connection with the last, failed reveal.

d10-5 Ending a Round – A round comes to an end when a player takes the last Volcano Card. This will also coincide with the fact that there is only one player left standing, representing their small victory.

As a reward they take the top Treasure Card from the central pile, which is now exposed since all the Volcano Cards have been taken off the top of the central pile of cards. They place it face-down in front of them without looking at it (which builds the suspense) and the game must be reset for a new round.

d10-6 Reset and Retry – The game is now ready for a new round. All of the revealed cards are flipped back over to hide them again but they remain in the same positions. This allows the players to build their knowledge of the grid as the game unfolds, which is a key aspect of Memoarrr!. meeple

The Volcano Cards are shuffled up again and placed back on top of the Treasure Pile in the center of the grid. The start player for the new round is the player that held the Volcano Card with the most birds on it.

The only difference to the start of the game now is that the start player can select any card in the grid. That said it makes little sense to pick one of their 3 peek cards (at the beginning of the game) as this is knowledge they want to keep when things get tough. It does make sense to pick one of the 3 peek cards of another player (the player holding the most Treasure Cards perhaps? ) as it robs them of one of their safety's. devil

d10-7 The Endgame and Winning –

Image Courtesy of W Eric Martin
The game plays out over a total of 7 rounds as this is how the last of the Treasure Cards is earned (1 per round).

To find the winner, each player reveals any Treasure Cards they have and the player with the most Rubies takes the win. The Treasure Cards feature Ruby values of 1 (x2), 2 (x3) and a single 3 and 4. This means that there is no guarantee that simply collecting the most Treasure Cards will result in victory.

If there is a tie, the player with the most Treasure Cards takes the win.

mb Treasure Variant - If players want to reward greater skill, the Treasure Deck can be created rather than shuffled up randomly. If ordering the Treasure Deck, the ruby values should be ordered from the lowest values through to the highest, meaning the 4-ruby card is on the bottom of the Treasure Deck.

The reason why this is regarded as rewarding greater skill is that the higher ruby values can only be won in the later stages of the game, when the players have had the chance to acquire the greatest amount of knowledge. Conversely, the players have less knowledge in the early stages and often a greater luck factor is present. In these stages of the game the early Treasure Cards will only feature 1 ruby.

Personally I prefer to just use a random Treasure Deck as I like a bit of chaos in my gaming and I think it helps level the playing field a bit and makes for a nice surprise at the end of the game. Your mileage may vary.

d10-8 Perfection? – One clarification needs to be made as to the play of the game. It is possible that a good group of players manage to reveal all 24 cards, having made connections to them all.

If this happens the next player that should take their turn but can't must draw a Volcano Card and this may happen to several players at once. This may seem unfair but it is the nature of the game and is fairly rare (in my group anyway).

If your group is finding this outcome regularly...then you should consider the 'Expert Game'.

The Expert Game (Advanced Rules)

In truth anyone can play using this format. It will appeal to some gamers more than others. After 5+ plays I now prefer to play this way.

Animal Powers – If a player successfully picks a card and makes a connection, they get to invoke the power of the animal they just revealed. Those powers are :-

mb Penguin – Allows a player to look at a currently unrevealed location before putting it back in place.

mb Octopus – Requires that the octopus card is switched places with another card adjacent to it (orthogonal only - not diagonal). This changes the nature of the grid and screws with the player's memory...making it my favourite. wow

It doesn't matter if the card (being swapped with) is revealed or still hidden.

mb Walrus – Allows a player to touch a card, meaning the next player to take their turn cannot reveal that card this turn. This can be used to limit a player's options.

mb Crab – Requires the current player (the one to reveal the crab) to take another turn immediately. This may sound like a penalty (and it can be at times) but it is great if you know another connected card, and some other players might too, as it means you are taking an easy turn away from someone.

mb Turtle – The turtle has no power...poor turtles. I like Turtles... laugh

The inclusion of an Expert Game of this fashion is the perfect way to do so for a title of this weight. It sets the players some new challenges but it doesn't change the game in any major way or add a raft of new rules to remember. It's well worth having in the box.

The Final Word

So what is Memoarrr! and what experience is on offer?

Memoarrr! is indeed a quasi-memory game but it is implemented in a very clever way. This is because the playing of the game allows for meta-knowledge. By this I mean that the players build up their knowledge of the grid over a series of rounds. This results in a fun interplay and meta-game of sorts, where the players are likely to begin revealing cards in a set sequence (over future rounds). The players must then try to turn these moments to their advantage and try to break those sequences in the hope that it will through the other players off their game.

As the players collectively form longer successful connection streaks, more of the grid is revealed and the players can begin to use various memory techniques to help remember as much information as possible.

Call me a gaming-snoot but before finding this game I would have probably prescribed to the theory that a memory-based game has no right to be any fun. I am happy to stand corrected on this as I find Memoarrr! to be quite a fun time. It knows what it is and doesn't look to outstay its welcome. Those moments of confidence that turn to, 'What the heck! I could have sworn that was a water landscape', can be quite funny (when it's not you) and even mildly amusing when it is.

The time between turns is measured in seconds rather than minutes, which means little to no downtime and the game keeps all the players in suspense thanks to the players not knowing just how valuable their Treasure Cards are until the very end. This helps to maintain the tension and keep all players interested for the length of the game (something very important if children are playing).

All in all I think this game is quite the nice find. Whether it can find a spot on your gaming shelf among the filler games may well depend on the size of collection you wish to maintain. For me it's a keeper as I have had numerous players enjoy the different play style this one has to offer.

The regular game is probably all that is needed by casual game fans. I suspect though that more experienced gamers will prefer the Expert Game as it adds just a little more strategy in relation to which animal you want to reveal in making a connection, based on the power it offers up.

'Til next we meet, may you connect the dots to the buried treasure...oarrr!

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Roman Rybiczka
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Nice review. One little detail: Edition Spielwiese is the publisher.

Memoarrr! gets distributed by Pegasus Spiele in several countries.
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Uratha wrote:
Nice review. One little detail: Edition Spielwiese is the publisher.

Memoarrr! gets distributed by Pegasus Spiele in several countries.


Thanks for reading Roman. I will make that correction over the weekend.
 
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Thomas Cornado
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Hello,

I believe there is also another cover for the game. The new one is more attractive

Very nice and complete review. Thank you for this (and it's well written also ^^)
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Peter Jürgensen
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Nice review!

One thing I found: you are using 24/25 cards, not 23/24. So there is even one card more!
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Peterektor wrote:
Nice review!

One thing I found: you are using 24/25 cards, not 23/24. So there is even one card more!


Thanks for reading - correction made.
 
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Paula T
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Thanks for the review. We've seen this memory based meta-knowledge mechanism in Leo which for me personally is a better game.
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wpolka wrote:
Thanks for the review. We've seen this memory based meta-knowledge mechanism in Leo which for me personally is a better game.


I am after a copy of this one too.

Thanks for reading.
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