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[Review] Mutiny!

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  • Tom Vasel
    My friend Joe, a historian, is always amused by people s romantic fascination with pirates, like my own. I love pirate movies, pirate games (except
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2004
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      My friend Joe, a historian, is always amused by people's
      romantic fascination with pirates, like my own. I love pirate
      movies, pirate games (except Blackbeard), etc. – but in reality the
      life of a pirate was not nearly as glamorous. I don't really care
      about the historical inaccuracies of games and movies, however,
      because realism rarely makes for a fun game. Thus, when I heard
      that Fantasy Flight games was releasing a new game in their recently
      christened Silver Line about pirates, I was interested in it.

      And what is the verdict on Mutiny! (Fantasy Flight Games,
      2003 – Kevin Wilson) The theme of the game is great (something
      Wilson seems adept at), but you are only going to like this game if
      you like blind bidding games, and even then you may not enjoy it
      that much. Now, I enjoyed the game, but most of the other playing
      did not – and it takes a game to be a real stinker for me to
      actively dislike it. I'm a big fan of blind bidding games, but
      often, during the course of the game, I kept thinking how Fist of
      Dragonstones did it so much better. But then again, perhaps pirates
      are your theme, rather than fantasy, so keep reading!

      The theme of the game is that the captain of the ship is
      apparently an idiotic cretin, and needs to be mutinied against. The
      question is, who will lead the mutiny? Each player (up to five)
      takes eight doubloons of their chosen color and three rum tokens.
      The remainder of the rum tokens, doubloons, and cutlass tokens are
      placed in piles at the side of the table. In the middle of the
      table are placed five large hexagon markers – representing the key
      crew members needed to complete the mutiny. Finally, sixteen chart
      markers are shuffled and placed in a pile underneath the pilot
      (fourth crew member). One player is given the large spyglass token,
      and the game starts.

      First, the top chart marker is flipped over and placed next
      to the pilot. Then, the player with the spyglass calls out each
      crew member in numeric order (it's the same, every turn). When a
      crew member's number is called, all players secretly bid any amount
      of coins and/or rum tokens that they wish. Each player places
      their bid tokens next to the crew marker, near the side of the
      marker with their matching color. The player who has bid the most
      tokens on a crew member may use that crew member's primary ability,
      and the player who has bid the second most tokens uses the secondary
      ability. All ties are broken by the player holding the spyglass.
      The abilities of the five crewmembers are as follows…

      - #1, Deck Hand: The winner can move any one token bid on any
      crew member to any other crew member, with the second place winner
      able to move any of THEIR tokens bid on a crew member to any other
      crew member.
      - #2, Gunner: The winner gets two cutlass tokens, second place
      gets one.
      - #3, Cook: The winner gains two rum tokens, second place gets
      one.
      - #4, Pilot: The winner picks which way the ship will sail on
      the chart marker (this will determine if certain players will gain
      and/or lose tokens (doubloons, rum, or swords), and second place
      gets one cutlass token.
      - #5, First Mate: The winner gets the spyglass token, and
      second place gets one rum token.

      After bidding, all tokens remain on that crew member. When all five
      crew members have been bid on, all the rum tokens are removed from
      the board back to the general pile of rum, and each player, starting
      with the player with the cutlass, can take back up to three of their
      coins from the board. Another round starts, and rounds continue to
      be played until one player gets eight cutlass tokens (or 10 in a
      three-player game). That player is immediately the winner!

      Some comments on the game…

      1.) Components: First of all, the artwork for the game, done by
      Brian Schomburg and Anders Finer, is absolutely fantastic, and
      certainly revives those "romantic" notions of the pirates! The
      tokens are all of good sizes and quality, as is typical for FFG
      (Fantasy Flight Games). I was a little disappointed with the
      plastic inset to the box, as there were many small tokens, but
      really nowhere to store them, I had to add plastic bags to keep
      everything straight in the box. The box itself, besides being
      beautiful, is typical good quality from FFG – and I really
      appreciate how all their Silver Line boxes easily stack on my
      shelves.

      2.) Rules: The game rules are very clearly written, in seven
      languages – with illustrations and examples. Every question we had,
      especially an important one on whether the person with the spyglass
      broke ties regarding the chart tokens, was answered, and I was able
      to teach the game in about five minutes. All the game components
      are language independent, and each of the crew markers has pictures
      on it, explaining what their primary and secondary abilities are.

      3.) Blind Bidding: As I said in the introduction, if you don't
      like blind bidding, you won't like the game, because that's all
      that's ever going on in this game. If you like blind bidding, but
      need variety, you also won't be a big fan of this game, because you
      are bidding on the same five things, every round.

      4.) Theme: However, at least the game really does have
      a "pirate" feel, (even if it's not historically accurate). The rum,
      the swords, the artwork, the doubloons, etc. – it all works together
      to give this game some flavor that many games sorely lack. If you
      are a big pirate fan, I'd have to say this is a must-add to your
      collection.

      5.) Strategy and Fun Factor: I enjoyed the game, but found that
      I was in a minority on that aspect. Some complained that the game
      felt a little stale. Others got tired of bidding for the same thing
      over and over. Still others thought that the strategy was lacking,
      or that there were only a couple viable strategies, bringing down
      the "fun factor" of the game. Teenagers, on the other hand, are
      enamored by the game, and because of the theme, can look past the
      mechanics (this is almost always the case), so for them, the Fun
      Factor is huge.

      Sadly, this means I can't recommend the game to anyone, unless you
      LOVE pirates or you LOVE blind-bidding games, and must own them
      all. The only exception to this is that families might like the
      game if they have teenagers who can handle blind bidding strategy.
      Personally, though, there are better games out there, and I would
      recommend that you pick up one of them instead. Love the theme,
      wish the mechanics were as interesting as it!

      Tom Vasel
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