Are we safe to go back in the water? Nope, I’m not talking about JAWS this time. There’s a new fish on the watery block, and Barry the Barrakuda is a mean mother-flipper!
Barrakuda is the latest game from Helvetiq’s brilliant small box range that also includes Bandido, Bandida, Mada, Tucano, Kinoko and many, manty more!. This time 2-4 players are off hunting and stealing gold coins from Spanish galleons which have sunk below the waters around Cartagena, Columbia.
There Be Treasure Under Those Waves
To win Barrakuda you need to be first to collect 8 coins. The board is a random set up of 6 shipwreck cards numbered 1-6 which are orthogonally connect by at least one edge. As such, the seabed is different every time you play.
Each turn players simultaneously reveals the movement card they want to play i.e. which wreck they want to visit. Each wreck has two actions and if you’re the only visitor that turn, you get to do both. They range from collecting gold, to moving gold you have to your vault, or getting protection from Barrakuda Bazza! If you end up on a card with another diver that turn, the player who used the fewest movement points to get there (called taking “the initiative”) gets first (“special”) action and then everybody there gets to do the second (“general”) action. If you don’t want to take the special action, you can instead steal gold from another player!
If you’re bobbing about on a wreck with only Bazza for company, however, you’re going to lose some gold onto the card ready for others to collect.
As an alternative to moving your diver, you can use your Barrakuda card and roll the distance die to set him off on a path to a showdown with another diver. If more than one player wants Bazza to bite (or everyone is too afraid of him), both Barrrakuda dice are rolled and his direction and distance are set. He’s lazy mind you, so will always use the shortest route there!
As soon as somebody has 8 gold coins in their vault, the game ends and they are declared the winner! Everybody else, well, let’s just say winner, winner, not Barry Barrakuda’s dinner! haha
This is a light, fun, filler game. Trying to predict where your fellow divers want to head to is a fun deduction. Gold on cards ready to be collected as well as the different powers on the various shipwreck cards can give a good idea as to where opponents might go. Likewise, guessing when someone is going to play Barry the Barrakuda could be possible if you can see they are down on gold and need to even the odds! And it’s not just about gathering up the gold. You’ve got to work to get it into your vault which adds an element of strategy when you’re choosing which shipwreck and power to swim towards!
I like how that can backfire, however, if others also have the same idea. A shoal of Barry Barrakudas is unlikely to do anyone any good as the custom dice then dictate where he goes next. And where he goes could be directly at you! If you have played Sushi Go Party, there’s a similar miso soup card that only rewards the player laying it down if it’s the only one used that round. I also like the fun take-that nature of stealing the gold from others in Barrakuda. And having the trade-off between a special action and stealing is a fun do-I-don’t I? moment.
The fact you can randomise the seabed (there are even starter shipwreck cards specifically designed to make your fist few games easier) to increase difficulty and replayability is great. And the Team variant where you can co-operate against Big Bad Bazza instead of being out for yourself is a twist that a number of the games in the range offer. And that’s excellent for those who might not like the take-that element of the gameplay.
We are really enjoying Barrakuda and it’s another great one from the small box range from Helvetiq It’s portable, colourful, and fun. It’s also budget friendly and only takes around 20 mins and is ready to play in seconds – a perfect filler game! Plus the little wooden meeples and custom dice are lovely. It always amazes me how they pack so much good stuff into these tiny boxes!
If you haven’t played any in the range, I’d recommend checking this one out along with Tucano and Bandido for starters. I say starters as you won’t be able to help yourself; before long, you’ll be collecting them just like us!