Amigo, £8

We had an evening session recently where three little German games emerged and all three passed muster, one of them in style. Must be the first time since about 1989 that such a bummer- free light session has occurred. I think all three were played in about an hour while waiting for 'the fourth', so at twenty minutes each we are talking fillers or repeat play for all three. The first is Pirat, a sort of Modern Naval Battles diluted down for family consumption.

Hands are dealt to each player which contain merchantmen of varying value, combat cards and pirate captains. Players are trying to earn gold by getting their own merchantmen safely home to port or stealing those of other players. Play is simple enough; a merchantman is laid in front of you and other players do the same or can pile into you with combat cards (pirates) to try and grab it. You can defend with equal numbers of escorts and if the treasure ship survives a whole turn with you in control, you bank the doubloons. If the pirates gain dominance through continued play of combat cards, they steal it instead. There are a couple of joker cards; the pirate captains cause a ship to succumb immediately unless countered by the Admiral, the latter being a one-off card, but excellent for getting a big ship safely home.

The resulting strategy is not that taxing, but the decisions are interesting enough and better than average lightgaming fare. The game suffers a little from the 'draw cards as a safe option' syndrome and I again wonder if these games are tested by real gamers or are just pitched at the family where such devious tactics presumably don't occur. Oddly, the designer's (Reiner Knizia) earlier game Digging suffered from exactly the same problem - fun the first time, but once you start analysing tactics there is little point in doing anything much until you have a handfull of cards. I suspect Herr Knizia knows his market and we gamers are infringing upon it; whatever, a simple card limit would solve both games' minor problems. Overall though, not at all bad and one that doesn't get sold quite yet.

On to the review of Superblatt or back to the review of Donnerwetter.

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