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Tortuga 1667

RRP: £24.99
Now £17.99(SAVE 28%)
RRP £24.99
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The year is 1667 and you are a pirate sailing the waters of the Caribbean. A Spanish Galleon floats nearby, and you’ve talked your crewmates into working together to steal all of its treasure. What you haven’t told your fellow pirates is that you have no intentions on sharing the treasure once you have it. Your crewmates have told you that they share your loyalty and that they�…
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Category Tags , , SKU ZBG-FCGTOR01 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The components – the map and the box really stand out as a feature
  • The chaos – it definitely gets loud!
  • The unpredictability of it – sounds bad but it’s really great

Might Not Like

  • Wading through the rules
  • Having your family call for a mutiny against you
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Description

The year is 1667 and you are a pirate sailing the waters of the Caribbean. A Spanish Galleon floats nearby, and you’ve talked your crewmates into working together to steal all of its treasure. What you haven’t told your fellow pirates is that you have no intentions on sharing the treasure once you have it. Your crewmates have told you that they share your loyalty and that they’ll help you maroon the greedy pirates on your ship to the rocky island of Tortuga. But you’ve seen your friends’ loaded pistols and heard their whisperings of a mutiny. You know that nobody can be trusted.

Tortuga is all about the interactions you have with the other players. In some cases, such as when you and your shipmates are attacking the Spanish Galleon, you need to rely on your enemies in order to succeed. In the very next turn, however, your shipmates might stab you in the back with a mutiny in order to keep all the treasure for themselves.

Since nobody holds a "hand" of cards, this game is also about knowledge and communication regarding the community Event cards. Unless you are in desperation mode, it is not wise to reveal Event cards at random. Almost half of the Event cards can hurt your team drastically. It's often in your best interest to use an action to view the cards first, or to rely on the knowledge of a trusted ally. Knowing where harmful Event cards are located allows you to force an enemy to reveal those cards and suffer the consequences. The most successful players are the ones who are able to discern who is on their team and then share vital information with them at opportune moments.

Vote cards also play a key role in the game. Each Vote card has three sections - one each for Attacks, Mutinies, and Brawls. Players must put themselves in the best position to use their Vote cards, since their hand of Vote cards may not always be ideal based on their pawn location. For example, sometimes it may be worth putting in Water, causing an attack to fail, in order to save a Crossbones card for when you want to Mutiny against your captain.

Avast matey! We’re going back over 350 years to the island of Tortuga 1667 as you’ll battle as part of the British or French fleets, plundering gold from the Spanish fleet. Those with the most gold at the end will be the winners, but do you truly know who’s on your side and who’s waiting to call for a mutiny?

Introduction

Tortuga 1667 sees 2-9 players taking on the role of real-life historical pirates in a cunning game of information and alliances to try and steal the most gold from the Spanish fleet, all while trying to uncover which of the sneaky pirates you can trust. It’s a raucous, rambunctious affair with loads of interaction amongst everyone around the table.

Setup

You’ll open the fake book which serves as the box and unpack all the components. It’s a lot of cards (loyalty, character, event and vote cards to be precise) as well as a lovely neoprene mate, cloth pouch and gold and player tokens.

Let everyone choose a pirate colour (or deal them one randomly – it doesn’t matter too much) and then add all the pawns you’ll be using to the cloth bag. Draw them one at a time and place them alternately between the Flying Dutchman and Jolly Roger ships. The pawn at the head of each line is the captain, the person next is the First Mate, and the person at the back of the line is the Cabin Boy. Depending on your player count or actions throughout the game, you might end up as First Mate and Cabin Boy. That will give you more options when it comes to deciding on your actions. Which ship you start on doesn’t make too much difference. What really matters is your secret loyalty card that you’ll get dealt. This tells you who you’re really fighting for.

Next, deal three vote cards to each player. These are multi-purpose and allow you to secretly make decisions throughout the game, without revealing which side you’re one.

You’ll remove three of the event cards marked with an asterisk and put them back in the box. Put the Spanish Armada card at the bottom of the deck and then place five event cards face down next to the spaces marked at the bottom of the map. Finally, place four gold tokens on the Spanish Galleon, one in each country’s space on the island of Tortuga and give one to the captain of each ship, allowing them to place it in either the British or French stronghold on the boat.

Playing & Plundering

Tortuga 1667 gameplay is actually pretty simple to understand, despite what the rulebook might make you think on first glance. That’s the real point that stands out for me on this – the rulebook makes it look like an impossible game to get your head around – almost to an intimidating point of view. It’s actually fairly easy and a lot of fun once you get going.

On your turn you get to take one action – that’s it. The slight twist is that your choice of actions depends on the role you have at the start of your turn. There are common actions that are always available to everyone, which generally involve secretly looking at event cards, revealing an event card or forcing another player to reveal one of two cards that you choose. You can also move between a ship and the central island by using a rowboat. Any time an action is revealed, you follow the instructions on the card and replenish it with a new one from the deck.

Most of the events have some small penalty for the person who reveals it, so getting some of that knowledge and then forcing someone to pick a card can be a good way to stay on top. If you’re not particularly fond of “take that” moments in games, you might not love this, but it’s hard to argue it’s not on theme for a game a pirates stealing gold.

The rest of the actions depend on your role. Captains can call for an attack on the Spanish to collect gold, or maroon someone to the island which is helpful if you suspect a traitor in your midst. First Mates can call for a mutiny against the captain, bumping everyone up the pecking order if they’re successful. Cabin Boys get to move treasure from one faction’s area on the ship to another and if you end up on the island as the Governor of Tortuga, you can call for a brawl which might redistribute the treasure that’s on the island.

It might sound complicated, but it isn’t, and that’s largely down to how effective the Vote cards are. Each card has three sections, labelled Attack, Mutiny, Brawl. When one of those actions is called, everyone involved selects a card and passes it to the active player, who shuffles in the top card of the deck and displays the results. This means that while everyone can play to their own plan, you’re never quite sure who’s done what, and the random card off the deck can lead to a few surprises.

You can only participate if your pawn is involved. If the ship you’re on calls for a mutiny, you get to select a card (unless you’re the captain). If your captain calls for an attack you can vote – potentially helping them to plunder some gold, or sabotaging the whole affair. If you’re on Tortuga, you get involved in the fight when it breaks out.

It’s a surprisingly effective mechanism, though it can be a little down to luck sometimes. If your secret loyalty is to the French and all your Brawl votes are only for the British, you feel a bit helpless. But it is still fun and I think that’s the main thing.

End Game

Play of Tortuga 1667 continues like this with a fair amount of chaos and backstabbing and side-eye suspicion until there are no more event cards in the deck. One of the five face down cards must now be the Spanish Armada, and as soon as that card is revealed, the game ends.

When you’re down to the final five, these get shuffled and re-ordered so you don’t know where the Armada card is and you’ll play as normal until it shows up. As soon as it’s revealed, see whether the British or French have the most gold and they’re the winner. You can reveal your secret loyalty and celebrate with your piratical friends. Ties are resolved by shuffling event cards and continuing to play until one team takes the lead.

Does It Hit The X Marking Spot?

For us, yes it really did, to a point where I was surprised how well it went down. It certainly felt overwhelming at the beginning, and even though a good portion of the rulebook is dedicated to the historical events surrounding Tortuga, the rest felt intimidating.

Once we were into the swing of it, there were a lot of laughs, a lot of plotting and some real excitement around the table. My youngest niece, who was first mate on my ship, spent all her turns calling for a mutiny against me until she kicked me off to the island.

Other groups had their attacks thwarted on more than one occasion and a growing population on Tortuga got into more than one mass brawl.

In my experience, I think this really thrives at a higher, even numbered player count. If you have an odd number, one player takes on the role of the Dutch and only wins if the French and British are tied at the end. You’re working a lot more to convince everyone you’re on their side and it feels like the chance of success is slimmer. Likewise at four, it doesn’t feel like the interaction is quite as cut-throat or slapstick as you’d want. I’d really say six or eight is the sweet spot for this one.

I had an idea of who had the same shared loyalty as me, and I knew for certain a couple of people who were against me too. But some players had a covert and crafty game and I was genuinely surprised at the end of one playthrough of this, despite emerging victorious.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of game in a compact box here, and I’m really glad I picked this up on a whim at a Bring n Buy for a local charity. Playing Tortuga 1667 felt like a gimmick purchase at the time, but it’s really solid and I think we’ll get a lot of gameplay from it with family.

The rules don’t welcome you in all that much and I think part of that is because they have to be designed to fit in the small box. The player aids do take the edge off here though – condensing all your options into one card that makes it easy to get on with.

You’ll need to think about your players too. I really think you’ll struggle to get as much out of this playing with less than six. And I think you need a group of people who enjoy, or are at least open to, a slightly chaotic approach to gaming, and do well with partially hidden information.

If that sounds like your sort of fun, then grab a cutlass and a map and get brawling!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The components the map and the box really stand out as a feature
  • The chaos it definitely gets loud!
  • The unpredictability of it sounds bad but its really great

Might not like

  • Wading through the rules
  • Having your family call for a mutiny against you