Monday, 15 October 2007

Spending the Last Night On Earth in a Pirate's Cove

Two new games for me in the 6 Oct 2007 boardgame session, Last Night On Earth and Pirate's Cove. We played Last Night On Earth first, Han and I. We played the basic scenario, where the heroes (played by me) must try to kill 15 zombies before sunrise, and the zombies (played by Han) try to prevent this, or try to kill 2 heroes. There are four heroes, randomly chosen from a cast of characters. The map shows a town, with various buildings in roughly a square around the edges, and a big empty central field. The heroes start with nothing, and need to collect weapons or other equipment, and event cards, to help them on their mission. Cards are collected by searching buildings. On their turn, heroes can move (distance depends on a die roll) or search buildings, and can also shoot at zombies if they have guns. They must fight the zombies hand-to-hand if they are in the same space as the zombies. The zombies have event cards / special cards, and collect them every turn. At the start of their turn, the zombies may increase their numbers (depends on die roll). Zombies then move (slowly, just 1 step per turn) and try to surround and corner the heroes.

In our game, the heroes started a rather slowly. Not much luck at all with getting equipment. When I got guns, I either miss, or the guns run out of bullets quickly. Han had some handy event cards to play on my gun-toting heroes. My priest was brave and chose to use the power that faith gave him to fight the zombies, and unfortunately also died bravely pretty quickly. My other three heroes gathered at the school, also decided to risk it by staying there to fight the approaching zombies. They decided to stay to spend time searching the school grounds, hoping to get some good stuff before they got surrounded. Thankfully they did. So eventually they did manage to kill 15 zombies before dawn.

Last Night On Earth, The Zombie Game. This is the full name. Here the three survivors gradually get surrounded by zombies.

Han and I and the game board. The dice tower is not part of the game.

Last Night On Earth is pretty thematic and also quite simple. It does feel like experiencing a zombie movie. (Well, actually I haven't seen one.) Not really my type of game, since I'm usually not so interested in role-playing-games-like game / fantasy games. Since we only played the basic introductory scenario, I think the other more advanced scenarios are more fun. Also I think playing the heroes is more fun than playing the zombies.

After that, Michelle joined us to play Pirate's Cove (minimum 3 players required). This is published by Days Of Wonder (publisher of Ticket To Ride), and the quality of the components is top-notch. In this game, each player is the captain of a pirate ship, and compete to become the most famous (notorious?) pirate, by burying treasures, defeating other players in battle, defeating legendary pirates, etc. Each turn, every captain simultaneously and secretly decides an island to sail to. Each island provides certain opportunities, like upgrading your ship, burying your treasure, buying special ability cards. But if another captain has chosen to visit the same island, you'll have to fight it out to decide who can stay (and enjoy the benefits of the island) and who will be kicked to the "repair workshop" island. The legendary pirate(s) sails to the islands in a fixed order, so everyone knows where he will be going, and will have to decide whether to have to face him before being able to land on the desired island. So the legendary pirate is a deterrent, but if your ship is powerful enough, you may actually choose to face him and try to defeat him to win fame and glory.

In my game I started off pretty badly, getting involved in and losing a battle on the first turn. After that, my strategy was just to stay away from Michelle and Han and the legendary pirates (there are 2 legendary pirates in the game at any time, for a 3-player game), and try to win fame using less confrontational approaches, like accumulating and burying treasures. Unfortunately I tend to make bad guesses and keep ending up at the same islands as either Michelle or Han. Han did pretty well and was far ahead. However, Michelle got one very useful parrot (all respectful pirates should have one, eh?), which allowed her to carry unlimited cargo (treasures). (and don't ask me what's the logic) So she just happily accumulated a ton of treasures, and buried them all in the final round, scoring a massive amount of fame points, and won the game.

My ship. My cannons were completely damaged after a battle.

Michelle and Han. There are two legendary pirates (black ships). My green ship is already at the "repair workshop" island. The brown cubes are treasure chests.

The island in the foreground has a tavern, and you can buy tavern cards here (various useful cards). That face-up card in the centre shows rewards for the player who docks at this island. A new reward card is drawn every turn.

Pirate's Cove is enjoyable. It is a Eurogame, and has a great theme. Eurogames are often stereotyped to be thin on theme. One important aspect of the game is guessing the intentions of your opponents. Sometimes you may want to avoid battle because you are weaker. Sometimes you may want to look for a fight because you are strong (but I suspect this will be rarer, because I think people will choose where to go to based on the benefits / rewards available). There is some luck in the game, in the die rolls when you fight, in the special cards that you draw, and also in the rewards available at each island every round. I think Pirate's Cove is very good as a family game. Not difficult to learn, some luck in it, not-too-serious and very colourful atmosphere and theme.

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