The crew of the HMS Dolores have been lead into a trap by wreckers causing their ship to crash on the rocky coastline and it’s cargo to float to shore. Players will act as the wreckers negotiating how to split the loot using a rock-paper-scissors mechanism, but time is limited - the militia will arrive by dawn to take the precious cargo away.
The wrecker with the greatest fortune by the time dawn comes around wins. HMS Dolores plays two to four players in 20 minutes and is designed by board game heavyweights Bruno Fiadutti and Eric M. Lang.
How the Game Be Played...
In HMS Dolores, players assume the role of wreckers to negotiate how to split the loot with one another, but most importantly are reminded that; “talking is a wrecker’s favourite weapon!” No one is bound to hold their word.
A single deck of cards is provided with the game, which includes seven different types of loot; weapons, wines, jewels, laces, tableware, musical instruments and ingots. Each type of goods are packaged in 10 crates: seven one-point crates, two two-point crates and a single three point crate.
There are also 10 message cards which offer different one-time powers, such as the “Broken Lantern” card which allows the player with the card to deal the loot face down before a sharing contest and look at them. They can then share with the other player what there is, give no information away or lie.
Each sharing contest involves just two of the players, with four crates placed face-up between them - two face one player and two face the other. Players can then discuss how to divvy the loot. After the discussions, they have three options; choose Peace and share the loot (open hand), Fight to take the lot (closed fist), or get the First Pick (thumbs up).
When both players are ready, they count to three or chant “Do-Lo-Res” simultaneously before revealing their choice;
- If both players offer an open hand, they peacefully split the loot, with each player taking the two cards facing them.
- If a player chooses to Fight while the other expects a peaceful exchange, he takes all four cards. If both players choose to Fight, all the cards are discarded and play moves on to the next sharing contest.
- If a player opts to go with the First Pick option while the other goes for peace, the first picker immediately takes one of the four cards. The other player then gets the one or two cards that are left in front of them.
- A First Pick versus a Fight, results in the first picker grabbing one of the four cards and the fighter gathering the remaining three.
- Finally, should both players attempt the First Pick option, then all four cards will be discarded and both players will have to simultaneously point to one set of goods they own and discard it entirely.
After a sharing contest, players add their winnings to the corresponding sets in their personal area.
When the Dawn card is drawn, the game of HMS Dolores ends - with no further sharing taking place. Players then add up the total of each set they have collected, but will only take into account the sets with their highest total and the lowest total. If multiple sets are tied for highest or lowest, then they are all counted. If all sets total the same value, then your score is doubled.
The player with the highest total score is the winner.
Me Thoughts, Arrrr...HMS Dolores
To get the most out of HMS Dolores, players must totally embrace the trickery and deception that comes with the wrecker’s way of life. If anyone is unwilling to tell bold faced lies during gameplay, then they are not likely to enjoy this game.
The player interaction is what makes this game. Players will have so much fun figuring out what their opponents want from the sharing contests and gaining the ability to see through their lies. While you’re trying to suss out your opponent, you are also trying to prevent them from ever having a true foothold in negotiations. If you become predictable, you will lose.
Adrenaline will course through your body as you prepare to go back on a negotiation, or when you are sure your opponent is lying to you and you intend to prevent them getting the upper hand, which makes a really fun back and forth throughout the game.
Despite all of the fun of getting into the role of a wrecker, you still need to be clever in your gameplay, as you carefully consider how to build up your goods so that you have multiple high and low scoring sets. You do this while also preventing the opponents from manipulating you into gaining goods that will decrease your final score.
In all, HMS Dolores is a fantastic filler game that offers wonderful thrills for all and at such a low price point, it’s a must for all board game collections.