Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Castaways of Deadmans Bay

You know how when you were a kid you wanted to be a pirate and you'd have a coat hanger for a hook hand, and you'd find an eye patch and wear it while chasing after your younger sister with a cardboard tube from the wrapping paper that you'd use as a sword shouting "ARRR" the entire time while she ran crying? 

Oh. Was that just me? Um...

Castaways of Deadmans Bay is a new two player dueling card game from indie publisher Ponder Zombie Games. In it, the captains dead, and you're one of the pirate crew fighting to become the new captain.

In this game, you will find 3 different pirates, 10 plank cards that make up the playing field, crew cards that you'll need to win to gain the crews support, glass beads to represent your life (try not to loose them), and a large variety of power cards that will allow you to injure, shove, and insult your way to victory and become the next captain of a pirate ship.

The game play is fairly straight forward and easy to learn. Players will pick a starting pirate that specializes in one of three different types of attack, and set them to fight each other to the death (Strike), knock them back along the dock so far that they fall in the water (Charge), or insult them to the point where they loose any and all support of the crew (Insult). During their turn, players will draw two cards from the deck, each of these cards corresponding to one of the three attacks or a special card that will do a one time bonus. A player will only have 3 of these cards in their hand at most, and must play a card as well as discard a card before moving on. A card played will be stacked in a pile according to its attack type, and will also have an effect attached to it as well. These effects will either push the pirate back a space on the deck, damage them by one point, or have them loose a crew member (causing the attacking pirate to gain a new crew member). Like the cards themselves, their effect also stack and an attack can leave quite a mark.

Attacks are not always successful however. After a player plays their card, they will then secretly choose what attack they want to use by selecting one of three cards that each correspond with the three different attacks. The other player will have a chance to defend themselves by correctly guessing which attack will be played against them, and choose the same card as the attacker. If the defender is successful, nothing happens to them and they become the Attacker. If the defender is not successful, the attack lands, and ALL effects happen. Early on, this could be 1 damage here, or one push there. but after several rounds, they could easily be taking 4 damage, pushed 2 spaces back, and loose a crew member.

Victory is achieved when a player is either pushed off the dock completely, looses all of their health, or all of their crew members switch sides.

I found the instructions to be a bit awkwardly written, as they will tell you that you need to do something, but you don't know what that something is yet as it comes later on. That said all the information you need to successfully play the game is there, and due to the size of the instructions included, I am not certain if I would have been able to arrange them any better. We misread the directions and somehow managed to miss the bit about discarding cards, so after a round or two we had massive hands which really bogged down the gameplay. Playing it correctly rectified this and really sped up the game, and keeping it fast paced adds to the thrill of swashbuckling.

The game is fun, light on rules, and is fairly fast paced. Having three different victory conditions available to you is nice as it allows for you and your opponent to take different approaches towards winning, and which attacks to build up with what effects in play. Building up those effects can add to the drama as all it can take is a single blow to land for you to win.  Currently, I believe the only place that you can get the game is online via or at the Ponder Zombie Games website.

More Photos

Boards & Beers was sent a copy for review.

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