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Cartagena 2. The Pirate's Nest» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dilemma by cards rss

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Toasted Jones
United Kingdom
Rugeley
Staffordshire
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This review is based on 2 main things, games played with my young family and no experience of the original Cartagena.

Cartagena II sees you lead a gang of fugitive pirates as they race to the safety of the Pirates nest. Unfortunately, no one knows where they're going and there's also the small matter of the ocean getting in the way. But fear not, helpful clue cards are provided and you never know, one of the other pirate gangs might just help you out..

The game has simple, but effective components. There are 5 sets of 5 pirate meeples, a deck of clearly iconised cards, a boat and jigsaw pieces for the two islands. The artwork is colourful and quite charming, the meeples are great and the only minor complaint would be that the island pieces are a little on the slim side. Once the game is set up, there is the obligatory round of "Shiver-m-timbers!", "Pieces-o-eight!" and "Avast-m-hearties!", then everyone is keen to crack on.

The rule book only stretches a few pages, but I must admit, I did have to read it a couple of times to fully understand everything. The game play is actually incredibly simple, but I was either having a bad day or the rules could be slightly better structured.

Basically, to move your pirates you need cards. Cards have icons that match icons found along the island paths. You simply play a card matching the icon of where you want your pirate to go. The pirate always goes to the next unoccupied matching icon, so if several path icons already have a pirate on them, you can move quite far in one card.

If there's no icon matching the card you're playing, you can move directly to the boat if you're on the first island or to the Pirates Nest if you're already on the second island. When you have pirates on the boat, you can sail to the second island. You can also send the boat back to the first island providing some of your gang are still there.

So, play cards, get on boat, play more cards, get to the nest and bobs your monkeys cousin! Well, nearly, you see you start the game with 7 cards and guess what? They run out! Herein lies a nice little dilemma. To gain cards you have to move your opponent gang pirates along the board or even onto the boat. It's a sort of, I'll help you if you help me, type deal.

So how does all this work in play?

Well, each player gets 3 actions per turn, you can play cards to move any of your pirates, sail the boat in either direction or gain cards by moving opponent pirates. Oh, if you have the majority of pirates on the boat (or tied majority) you become captain at the start of your turn and then, and only then, you can move the boat for a free action.

Because you can move any pirate at any time, herein lies your next dilemma. Do you move one Pirate at a time or group your pirates movement toward the finishing line. The good thing about grouping your pirates is that you can make your cards move you further, however, this means your opponents can do the very same thing. Couple this with the fact that you need to help your opponents along the trail to gain more cards and you have a nice little race game with tough little decisions though out, very cool.

Nothing amplifies this as much as when you are playing with your children who have to decide whether to help brother, sister, mummy or daddy, it's great watching the thought process play out across the faces around the table, it can sometimes appear an agonising decision devil

At its heart, Cartagena II is a simple but effective race game, basically, get all you gang to the Pirates nest first. But it's the first race game I've encountered where you have to stop and help out your rivals to continue yourself and this adds a little spice to the life blood of the game.

This is a recommended 40 minutes of fun.


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Rick Kimmel
United States
Waconia
Minnesota
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Nice review. I love this game. It's a lot deeper than it first appears and there are plenty of agonizing decisions.

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Andy Andersen
United States
Michigan
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Just received this a week ago. Thanks for the review.
 
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