Pieces of Eight – Steal the Booty! Drink the Rum!

“You have to hear the story of this game.  It’s made by a guy who is in the army, over seas, right now.  He made this game while he was over there, and he is launching it on kickstarter!”, those were the words that came from my business partners mouth, and I must admit, my stomach churned.  You see, I grant honest reviews.  Some times they are not favorable, although sometimes they are.  However, everyone loves and supports the troops, and now if I didn’t like this guys game, I felt like I would be branded as an un-American trader.

Review of
'Pieces of Eight - Steal the Booty! Drink the Rum!'
Mechanics:        
Instructions:      
Replay-ability:    
Price ($24.99):    
Components:      
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Overall Rating:    

So with a heavy heart I opened this guys game a week or two later and read through the rules.  My stomach stuck in my throat and I started grasping at straws for things that could be great about this game.  Hidden gems that might be revealed in the game play.  But regardless of what I did, I could not deny that ultimately what I took to the table for my players was a pirate themed version of “Munchkin”.

In this game you play as a pirate who is reaching retirement age.  However he wants to have enough gold doubloons to carry him comfortably into old age, ten gold doubloons to be exact.  To do this you hire on a cast of scallywags to help you on your way and you plunder boats and ports.  If you are successful, you receive gold doubloons.  If you fail, bad stuff happens, which could be the death of crew members or damage to your ship.  To hire crew and face opponents are all done by flipping over the top card of a common deck on your turn.  If this is an opponent (such as a ship) you must face them.  If this is a crew member or goody (such as rum that could help you later) you put it into your hand.

Game Information
Pieces of Eight- Steal the Booty! Drink the Rum!
# of Players
Playing Time
Mfg Suggested Ages

Info courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Info.

Now if you like Munchkin, maybe this is the game for you.  That is a very popular series by Steve Jackson, and they continue to make new versions of that game for a reason.  However, commonly the thing I hear that people love about Munchkin is that it is funny.  It’s satire.  This game however, is not full of the verbal punchlines that it’s predecessor has.  This game tries to play it straight, much to my chagrin.

Sitting down at the table, my players however were immediately impressed by one thing:  the coins.  This game comes with a slew of “gold doubloons” that you collect during the game.  Instead of trying to get to level 10, you are trying to collect 10 gold doubloons.  These coins are very neat and give the game a very cool feel.  Regardless of everything else I say about the game, the designer can feel really good about these components, because those coins are pretty neat.

So my players were enamored with the components, and I start explaining the rules.  You could see the faces around the table drop as I explain the mechanics.  Everyone can see that this game is Munchkin, to the point that we are using common phrases like “kicking down the door”.  However, this games rules does not have some of the intricacies built into it that we are accustomed to in Munchkin, such as you can’t barter for treasure and help someone around the table.  Because of this inability to gang up, our first few rounds are spent being crushed.  It’s not till nearly twenty minutes into the game that someone begins to get their feet underneath them and climb up through the ranks.

A look at a game in progress. You can see the gold doubloons in the picture, as well as some red tokens that are used as "damage" for your crew members. The center deck in the photo is the common draw pile used for "kicking down the door".

Over an hour passes and we are still playing.  I hadn’t thought the game would take this long, and now my players are getting antsy.  There are a lot of turns in a row where people are pretty stuck and can’t do much, which adds to the frustration.  People start calling for the game to be over.  The mob is forming and they are searching for their pitchforks.   I try to tell them about the creator, maybe they will be moved to some sort of patriotic guilt, much like I was.  But alas, they have already set their minds against the game.

One of the foes you can face. The toughness of the ship is denoted in the top right hand corner of the card. In this case, the attacker must have an attack power of 10 + whatever is rolled on an eight sided die in order to get the plunder.

Eventually the end of the game arrives and we all go our separate ways.  I sit the game aside desperate to try it again, surely there are some gems in it that I can tell other people!  Surely they are not going to send me back to my blog to talk badly about a soldier’s creation!   So it sits, on my shelf, till I can get another game going.  After a few weeks have passed, I attempt to bring up the suggestion of the game again.  One player from last time is in this new group, “Didn’t we already play that?  Don’t you have enough to review it?  It was soooooo long, and it was just like Munchkin”, come the wail of my player.  The group immediately heeds the warning of the repeat player and suggest we play something else.  They are of no help, and I am being tossed back to the wolves.

I feel terrible.  I desperately wanted to like this game.  I really didn’t want to tear down a young solider who is doing his time for our country.  But I’m also an honest reviewer… and I can’t lie… I can’t sugar coat it.  So bring on the hate mail.  Tell me I’m unpatriotic, and “how dare I”.  I’m ready for it.  And for the designer/soldier who made this game, keep it up.  Clearly you have a love for gaming and I think you could do pretty good in the industry when you get home, but copy catting a popular games mechanics is not a great way to break in.   However, the artwork and great components show a real since of spunk.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 10:00 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Theme Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Comments

  1. TalkingBull says:

    Thank you for the review. I am sorry your group didn’t care for the game. One thing that might have helped it along though is you are supposed to play to 8, not 10. I playtested playing to 10 and it takes way too long. Of course, the game isn’t a short-play game to begin with and the more people who play, the longer it is but you may have enjoyed the pace a bit more if you played to 8. Regardless, I appreciate your honesty in the review and will look into making the pacing a bit better in a future edition. Thanks!

  2. TalkingBull,

    I may have misquoted the number of coins needed (and I apologize). We played a few weeks ago (as indicated in the blog), and when I sat down to write the review I was away from the copy you sent me. I did attempt to double check the rules for that number on BoardGameGeek.com, but no copy of the rules have been added to the entry. So remembering that the end condition was so similar to Munchkin, I mistakenly remembered it as 10. We played to the number indicated in the rules included in our copy with the outcome described.

    Speaking of the BoardGameGeek.com, I would highly suggest that you upload a PDF copy of the rules to their site. A lot of folks use BGG as a resource when trying to do research on games they might be interested in purchasing, and having the rules out there is a real easy way for them to determine if your game is right for them. Just a small suggestion.

    Thank you for the opportunity to review your game, and I hope you have a safe journey back home.

    -Victoria
    Co-Owner of Game Paradise
    Author of One Gamers’s Opinion.

  3. TalkingBull says:

    I just uploaded a copy of the Rulebook to BGG, thanks for the suggestion. How many people did you play with? I am planning on modifying the rules to indicate approximate play times for set numbers of players.

  4. We played with four players. Given my understanding of the mechanics, we thought that might give the most well rounded experience with the game. However, I’ve come to understand from a conversation you had with my editor that the game does take significantly longer with that size. I think your idea of giving play times for each player group size is a great idea.

    Mechanically, I think part of the problem with the pacing was the extremely high attack cost on most of the mobs. We spent 20+ minutes playing before someone actually managed to beat a mob and move up a little bit. Because no one could ever win, crew were always being killed, which kept everyone in rough shape. I think introducing some more smaller mobs into the game might help with this issue.

    Another possible idea, if you don’t mind moving slightly away from the Munchkin mechanics, might be to have multiple center decks. Each deck would contain mobs that were of a different range of attack values, each with rewards and penalties that were befitting the mobs difficulty (Aka, the harder mobs would have bigger rewards, but also bigger penalities). This would eliminate turns such as we had, where the pirates that were barely limping were forced to go up against the ship with 20+ attack points. Just an idea to roll around

  5. TalkingBull says:

    I must admit that I have had games play out similarly. I added a ;come to my aid’ mechanic in the last update (Probably after I sent you the copy) that allows a player to pay 1 Piece of Eight to another player to get them to help you… yes, it’s like Munchkin 🙂 It can really change the gameplay though. I also am about to release an expansion with 36 new cards and 3 new types of raids. They are weaker but offer different things… the Village Raid card for instance has a defense value of 10 and you have to roll to determine what you get from it (Piece of Eight, Top Card, Card from the discard pile, or nothing).

    I will playtest a separate draw pile… like perhaps there would be different cards based off the current level you have… that’s an interesting concept. I will have to give it some thought and see what I can come up with. In the meantime, I will add the game time to the rules. That should have already been in there.

    Thanks for the feedback, I really do appreciate it 🙂

  6. It sounds like you are already doing a lot to correct the problems we noticed. Cards like the Village Raid I think will go far in fixing that.

    And thank you for the more in depth discussion of the mechanics. Hopefully it will give some more insight to our other readers. 🙂

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