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Subject: "Wild Pirates" and "Canyon" rss

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Pete Gelman
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I wonder if Piratenspeil, also known as "Wild Pirates", inspired Canyon?

There are some similarities... The nautical race theme, the wheel track on the board, movement determined by trick taking...





The differences are not trivial, though. The newer game, Canyon (especially with the Grand Canyon supplements) adds a bit more complexity to the simple idea, with a grid race track for extra maneuvers. The Canyon wheel-track serves a more needed purpose (an "Oh, Hell" mechanism) than the mere trump-setter of Wild Pirates.

I think Wild Pirates should prove to be a quicker game, which is arguably a virtue; the race distance is shorter, and the deck is smaller (just 36 cards, or 35 cards for 5 players) for presumably faster results each round.

To many thoughtful tastes, Canyon's trick-taking mechanism may be heard to beat. Still, Wild Pirate's cardplay is not a roll-and-move thing; you try to match your trick taking to your board situation.

Here's a small point that I wonder about. In Wild Pirates, if you don't have a card of the lead suit, you must play a trump if you have one. This is a different way to handle trumps than I'm used to; you have less control of your trumps. It also means you may be able to force an opponent to play a trump, and take a trick, thus moving forward to a disadvantageous space on the board.

I don't know what card game tradition this follows, but I don't think it's skat.

As a game structure, I like the combination of trick-taking and a race.

Canyon has the virtue of offering a supplement. However, I don't care for the silly images of American Indians in the "Grand Canyon" supplement. Maybe Wild Pirates could benefit from an option of more complexity, but I don't know yet.

Aside from visuals (mainly the gorgeous tropical board), there isn't much behind the pirate theme of Wild Pirates, but I think it's enough for me to interest nongamers in giving it a try without much difficulty.

Wild Pirates seems pretty basic as a trick-taking race with a few board-location twists. Maybe it's designed to be a casual family game (note the cutsey smiley-face pirates on the cards), but if it moves quickly, and the trick-taking card play is fun, it could be good. I think the board's illustrations are wonderful.

So I just bought Wild Pirates for $11 and look forward to giving it a try.
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