Another day, another pirate game. Since the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies debuted, pirates have become bigger and bigger business. Maybe not on par with zombies, but still large enough to encourage hundreds of game designers to produce games about them. Why, just off the top of my head I can come up with a half dozen pirate games that are in my collection. Enough with the pirates! But to my door came a game about pirates, and far be it from me to refuse a game. So it was to the gaming table to see what “Raiding Parties” was all about.
I opened the box and was confused… there were no instructions, but were two decks of playing cards. Ok, there were instructions, but I didn’t find them at first and thus was confused. The instructions are written on the front and back of three playing cards that are included inside the deck of cards. With that mystery solved, it was onward to figure out “Raiding Parties”! So I started reading the instructions aloud to myself and my opponent. A couple minutes later we wiped the haze from our eyes and attempted to make sense of what we read.A look at one of the crew cards available in the deck.
This is a game with awful instructions. Not quite “Blood-Red Banner” awful, but awful all the same. The rules were not written in the most clear English available, and are very vague, leaving the player to have to jump to conclusions. There was multiple times throughout the games we played where the situation we were in was simply not covered in the rules, and so we had to create a house rule. I was flabbergasted and thus went to the Internet. Surely this was just a case of an editor who chopped too much away to make it fit on those cards!
I started looking for an FAQ for the game in the most logical place first: BoardGameGeek.com. Usually FAQ’s can be found attached to the games information page, but this game didn’t have any such thing. Not to be discouraged I kept digging, and went to a website listed on that page. Unfortunately, that website was no longer in service. So I started Googling. This led me to a couple of things: the game’s kickstarter page, and its facebook fan page. But still I couldn’t find more information about the rules. This was very frustrating, and so it was back to house rules we went.
So what is Raiding Parties? It’s a pirate themed game where the last man standing wins. Each player has a deck of pirate cards that they draft themselves using a point based system, that they then can draw from, and an alley that they play these cards into. Once these cards are played out, they can attack each other with either projectile weapons, melee weapons, or with special abilities such as throwing grenades. Once you have killed all the pirates in your opponents deck, it’s game over and you win.
One thing that I liked about this game was the “Hit The Deck” mechanic used in combat. Remember me telling you that there were two decks of cards? Well, the second deck is a regular deck of playing cards. These are used to decide if attacks and special abilities are successful. Each card lists what suit or type of card will be a successful hit. For instance, grenades can be thrown on clubs. So to use this ability, you declare the name of the ability, and who you are targeting, and then flip over the top card of the deck. If you flipped a club, you successfully threw the grenades. If it was anything else, then you failed.These are the “Hit the Deck” cards used to decide if an attempt is successful.
The production quality in this game was also pretty good. The cards were beautifully illustrated and are of a good stock. However, the tokens that are used to keep track of hits were quite the opposite. They were on very flimsy stock, and you had to cut them out yourself (not punch them out, but actually cut them out). These felt particularly cheap next to the nice pretty cards. If you do get this game, I suggest you swap these out with some other variety of attractive counter, because they degrade the whole feel of the game.
So the big question becomes, was it fun? It could have been. We were so flustered by the poor rules, that little fun actually occurred, because we were constantly having to stop and negotiate on how to deal with a given situation that wasn’t covered or was ambiguous. For this reason, this isn’t a game I can currently recommend. However, if the publisher was to put out a detailed FAQ, or better yet, rewrites the rules in general to be more comprehensive, then I could potentially see this being a nice light game.