Piracy! The profession that pays in adventure and all the booty you can plunder, arrrgh! It also pays in horrible diseases and unspeakable actions against humanity that will almost certainly lead to a moral decline and hollow emptiness that only the sweet embrace of death can sooth, which is fortunate because the life expectancy of this professions isn’t long. Yo ho! I get how fun this theme is, but it never ceases to make me laugh at how light hearted something so awful has become, ah time, you eraser of unspeakable evil you. Anyway, in the game we’re looking at today you are pirates BUT you’ll only be doing a little plundering as you’re really in it to race!
In Jamaica, players take the helm of one of their brightly colored plastic ships and compete to become the wealthiest pirate in the game as you race around the titular island. There’s a pretty clever little mechanic in this game. The cards in your hand are split into day and night sides (left and right) each with an icon indicating 1) move forward 2) move back 3) gain food 4) gain gold or 5) gain gunpowder. The active player rolls two dice then places one on the day symbol and one on the night symbol. Players then pick a card from their hand that will benefit them most. So, say Blackbeard over there rolls a 2 and a 6. He places the 2 on the day phase and the 6 on the night phase. I look at my hand and see “Hey! I have a card that gives me forward movement for day and gold doubloons for night, I’ll use that!” When it’s my turn I flip over my selected card and move forward twice then collect some gold. This mixed with a fun little resource management system where you’re juggling the contents of your ship’s hold make a light game refreshingly different. Toss in a little combat and deciding on which paths to take (chances at treasure, you know) and fantastic component quality and you’ve certainly piqued my interest.
The depth of the game is no ocean. The game lasts one lap around the island, which translates to maybe an hour. With always having three cards in your hand, it’s nice to have a little bit of decisions surrounding a couple of dice being thrown, and this really does give you a nice couple of options. Then there’s the dice themselves. These things are chunky wood with a nice texture to them. It goes along with the rest of the game because all the components are top notch. The art is really fun and detailed with cartoony figures and piratey situations. The insert is about the best I’ve seen for a game, there’s a place for everything and it doesn’t move at all. Really my biggest gripe is that the rule-book folds out like a map. Which is a cutesy thematic way to do it, but not practical for looking up rules. It’s a minor gripe because the game isn’t all that complicated.
The biggest issue some may have with this is how simple the game is. It’s a highly produced, not-inexpensive game, but is centered around otherwise light mechanics. I appreciate that something this family friendly has this high of production quality, others may not agree. Also, simply because it’s light doesn’t negate the fact that it’s quote a fun game. Sure some of the steps are simple, but there are decisions to make that pit you directly against the other players rather than against a couple of dice rolls.
It’s a beautifully produced game.
It’s a unique game with some interesting takes on older mechanics
It’s a lot of fun.
Plays well at player counts from 2-6.
Some players might find this a little light for what it is.
Despite being able to mitigate it, luck does play a roll.
It’s a light game, sure, but it’s very thematic, plays quickly and has some really great components and artwork. If nothing else it’s worth the price just for the components. However, it’s a pretty great game that you can play with a wide range of ages and be able to engross yourself into the pirateygoodness of racing ships, fighting, feeding your crew and grabbing as much treasure as you can hold.