Tricky Tides

Are you ready to set sail… FOR ADVENTURE!?

This is the only nautical game I have in my pile right now, so I really wanted to review this International Talk Like A Pirate Day, September 19. (it was even one of our regular revue days!) But alas, it was not to be. But here we are, so let’s just enjoy, and live in the moment.

Tricky Tides is a tile-based, trick-taking, game of pick up and deliver, with a dose of set collection for good measure. Players each start with a ship board, a ship shaped pawn, a single anchor token, and a random Monster Sightings Card that should remain hidden.

The play area is set up in a loose 3×4 grid of Island Cards. In a two or three player game, some of these cards will be flipped over to show open sea, rather than an island. Each island then receives an Order Card, and a number of randomly drawn resource cubes.

Players will receive eight Navigation Cards, with each round ending when players have played six of them. At the end of the first two rounds, island resource cubes are replenished. With the game ending after the third round.

The leader begins by playing a Navigation Card, announcing its suit. Subsequent players must follow suit if they are able but may play any other card if they can’t. The winner of the hand is the player that played the highest card in the led suit, and will lead the next hand. That player also gets to move their ship first, by moving their ship to one island in any of the directions shown on the card they played. At that island, they may choose to Pick Up all goods of a single type on that island, or Deliver the goods already in their cargo hold to take the Order Card for gold (points) (immediately replacing it from the deck). Once each player has sailed, the new leader starts the next hand.

After the third round, players may sell sets of leftover resources for gold, and add that to the gold listed on the Order Cards that they delivered. The winner is the player with the most gold. BUT WAIT! There is one more to gain gold that can turn the tide. At the start of the game, each player was dealt a Monster Sighting Card. These cards assign a different gold bonus to each monster that is shown on the Order Cards each player Delivered.

As fun as the game is, that was just the basic game. Once you’ve got how the game works, you can include Event Cards that add to how each round will play out. You can also place Monsters on the map. The player who will sail last must move the Monster and use its ability (in either order) before players sail. I love the fact that this game scales up in difficulty, rather than scaling back to a less enjoyable introductory game. You honestly don’t need the Events or Monsters to enjoy playing the game.

I found the logo a bit hard to read on the box, but that is the only artistic criticism I can make, and it was better on the instruction book. Everything else, from the rest of the box art to just the open sea side of the map cards evokes a feeling of what most landlubbers picture when they think of 17th and 18th century parchment maps.

Gameplay is easy to learn, and it doesn’t take too long to play. The hardest thing, for a gamer used to even medium-weight games, is realizing the pacing of the game. You can’t really play the “long game” in Tricky Tides, as tempting as it feels. You can obviously plan ahead, and the Monster Sightings Card will likely influence that plan. But your plan will probably need to change in a moment. This is a great game to start your night with, or as a pallet cleanser between heavier games.

You can check out Zafty Games’ website at www.zaftygames.com or their Facebook page facebook.com/bezafty.

[Just for giggles I ran this review through an online English to Pirate translator. Below is what came back. -dc]

Are ye ready t’ set sail… FOR ADVENTURE!?

’tis th’ only nautical game I ‘ave in me pile right now, so I really wanted t’ review this International Talk Like A Pirate Day, September 19. (’twas even one o’ our regular revue days!) But alas, ’twas nah t’ be. But here we be, so let’s jus’ enjoy, ‘n live in th’ moment.

Tricky Tides be a tile-based, trick-lootin’, game o’ pick up ‘n deliver, wit’ a dose o’ set collection fer good measure. Players each start wit’ a ship board, a ship shaped pawn, a single anchor token, ‘n a random Monster Sightin’s Card that should remain hidden.

Th’ play area be set up in a loose 3×4 grid o’ Island Cards. In a two or three player game, some o’ these cards will be flipped o’er t’ show open sea, rather than an island. Each island then receives an Order Card, ‘n a number o’ randomly drawn resource cubes.

Players will receive eight Navigation Cards, wit’ each round endin’ when players ‘ave played six o’ them. At th’ end o’ th’ first two rounds, island resource cubes are replenished. Wit’ th’ game endin’ aft th’ third round.

Th’ leader begins by playin’ a Navigation Card, announcin’ its suit. Subsequent players must follow suit if they be able but may play any other card if they can nah. Th’ winner o’ th’ hand be th’ player that played th’ highest card in th’ led suit, ‘n will lead th’ next hand. That player also gets t’ move thar ship first, by movin’ thar ship t’ one island in any o’ th’ directions shown on th’ card they played. At that island, they may choose t’ Pick Up all loot o’ a single type on that island, or Deliver th’ loot already in thar cargo hold t’ loot th’ Order Card fer gold (points) (immediately replacin’ it from th’ deck). Once each player has sailed, th’ new leader starts th’ next hand.

Aft th’ third round, players may sell sets o’ leftover resources fer gold, ‘n add that t’ th’ gold listed on th’ Order Cards that they delivered. Th’ winner be th’ player wit’ th’ most gold. BUT WAIT! Thar be one more t’ gain gold that can turn th’ tide. At th’ start o’ th’ game, each player was dealt a Monster Sightin’ Card. These cards assign a different gold bonus t’ each monster that be shown on th’ Order Cards each player Delivered.

As fun as th’ game be, that was jus’ th’ basic game. Once ye’ve got how th’ game works, ye can include Event Cards that add t’ how each round will play out. Ye can also galleon Monsters on th’ map. Th’ player who will sail last must move th’ Monster ‘n use its ability (in either order) afore players sail. I love th’ fact that this game scales up in difficulty, rather than scalin’ back t’ a less enjoyable introductory game. Ye honestly don’t needs th’ Events or Monsters t’ enjoy playin’ th’ game.

I found th’ logo a bit hard t’ read on th’ box, but that be th’ only artistic criticism I can make, ‘n ’twas better on th’ instruction book. Everythin’ else, from th’ rest o’ th’ box art t’ jus’ th’ open sea side o’ th’ map cards evokes a feelin’ o’ wha’ most landlubbers picture when they reckon o’ 17th ‘n 18th century parchment maps.

Gameplay be easy t’ learn, ‘n it doesn’t loot too long t’ play. Th’ hardest thin’, fer a gamer used t’ even medium-weight games, be realizin’ th’ pacin’ o’ th’ game. Ye can nah really play th’ “long game” in Tricky Tides, as temptin’ as it feels. Ye can obviously plan ahead, ‘n th’ Monster Sightin’s Card will likely influence that plan. But yer plan will prolly needs t’ change in a moment. ’tis a great game t’ start yer night wit’, or as a pallet cleanser between heavier games.

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