Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 5 July 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Tale of Pirates

Game: A Tale of Pirates

Publisher: Cranio Creations

Designer: Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, Daniele Tascini

Year: 2017

A Tale of Pirates hit my radar shortly after Essen 2017 and it has taken over 9 months to get a full release in the UK. What got me excited for the game was a video from Actualol, where I identified with his love of sand timers in real time games. Kitchen Rush (also an Essen 2017 release) recently made it into my Top Ten Games of All Time and to me A Tale of Pirates looked like Kitchen Rush on a 3-D pirate ship - what was not to like about that.

Add to this fantastic first impression that the game is a scenario based cooperative game with a companion app and I'm 100% on board! So let's take a look down from the crow's nest at A Tale of Pirates.

In A Tale of Pirates, your workers are sand timers, which are assigned to spots on the pirate ship and can only take their action once the sand has run down the timer. In each scenario you’ll have an objective which could simply be about surviving incoming attacks, or maybe it will be about looting other ships. The seas surrounding your boat are a circle of face down cards representing the various obstacles and opportunities you can interact with. You can assign your timer to fire canons at ships, but only if someone else is steering the boat so that you face the right direction. You might need to raise or lower the sails to gain speed or gain manouverability. If you take damage you might want to make ship repairs.

Firing the canon at an oncoming ship to the North.
I love real-time cooperative games because communication is almost always paramount, more so than in many other games. In A Tale of Pirates it’s important that you can create a chain of events in cooperation with other players. The game is very spatial, so everything needs to work like a well-oiled machine operating in a particular order. Using the crow’s nest isn’t necessary, but it does give you the necessary insight to plan ahead, at the penalty of wasting some precious time!

So far, we have played three scenarios in A Tale of Pirates and have succeeded in them all with some ease on normal difficulty. I am hopeful that future scenarios provide a little higher difficulty, as well as adding some more mechanisms. When looking at the sealed bags there are obviously some new components on the way so I’d like to see some new challenges. We have only played with two players, but are compensated by having two timers each, so that isn’t a factor in the difficulty.

The app that aids with the variable setup for each scenario and acts as the timer for the game, with nautical sound effects.
It’s impossible for me not to compare A Tale of Pirates to Kitchen Rush. There are many similarities but also some differences. Both have great themes for my taste – Kitchen Rush being slightly more unique, but A Tale of Pirates having a great toy factor to help evoke its theme. Both need a high level of communication and planning, however I feel like more of this happens during the rounds in A Tale of Pirates, especially because you don’t take an action until your timer runs out, meaning you can manipulate the action order with a little more subtlety. In addition, you start each round of a Tale of Pirates with more unknowns – it’s hard to make a plan until you’ve done some exploring from the crow’ nest. That also means that there is some luck in A Tale of Pirates, both in the cards you choose to flip and also the dice rolling when you use the canons.

Overall I think I still prefer Kitchen Rush because it does feel more challenging and more of a fixed puzzle you are solving, rather than fighting luck at times. However, I am enjoying the campaign aspect of A Tale of Pirates and that will definitely make me want to keep playing, at least until we’ve opened up all the content. The game is really energetic and exciting and each scenario is very fast. We’re having to stop ourselves from playing it all in one sitting because we want to save some surprises for later. For most people I think it will be a choice between the appeal of the theme and for people like us who love real-time cooperative games, I think there is space for both games in a collection.

For the Yellow Meeple, A Tale of Pirates is a 7.5/10.

A Tale of Pirates was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £44.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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