Treasure, adventure and rum! … Sadly, these are all things you might never enjoy again. The Captain has had enough of the lazy and stupid pirates in his crew and is making you walk the plank. He does need a couple of you to help man the ship though. So the least pea-brained pirates might just avoid the plummet to Davy Jones’ Locker. Shove, drag and charge your crewmates over the edge to be the last pirate standing, or else prepare to Walk the Plank!
Walk the Plank is an entertaining and fast-paced party game from Mayday Games. Players take on the role of pirates hoping to survive the clumsy carnage of the plank to win their Captain’s favour (and their lives!). Players pre-select the actions their pirates will take before revealing and performing those actions in turn order. Without knowing what the other players will do, things quickly get out of control. Players can expect the brainless buccaneers to accidentally rescue their enemies, charge into their allies and saw off the plank beneath their very own feet!
Walk the Plank is a programmable movement game. It is suitable for 3-5 players aged six and over. You can expect a game to last 15-20 minutes.
How it plays
In Walk the Plank players control three pirates of their chosen colour and have a deck of ten cards. Each card is titled with the action to be performed and includes an easy to understand description in picture form. Whenever a card is played, the action must be performed if possible, even if it doesn’t end well for the player.
At the beginning of each round, players select three cards to play in order. These are revealed one at a time in turn order. The last player to reveal a card and perform their action receives the Captain's favour and plays first in the next round.
Play continues until only two pirates, or all of one player’s pirates, remain. These lucky souls have earned a place on the crew, for now at least!
Every round, players can choose to either:
- shove the pirates of the player to their left or right one space towards the sea;
- take one of their pirates and another from the same space back towards the ship or out towards the sea;
- move space in either direction, or
- charge forward one space and push a pirate from that space further out.
There are also some special cards, marked by a golden skull, which can only be played every other round. These allow players to shove a pirate belonging to any player, add or remove a piece of plank, or move up to two spaces back towards the ship.
Some cards are more dangerous and popular than others in Walk the Plank. Retract the plank and Charge are usually met with a cheer. Charge often ends up harming the charging pirate as much as (or more than) the intended victim. Meanwhile, Retract the plank is frequently responsible for multiple pirates taking the plunge!
As the game progresses, players will find their pirates being shoved, undercut and suicidally charging to a watery grave. And to clear up any question of survival, the Kraken is lurking in the depths ready to swallow down its next a-pirate-if (aperitif, get it?)
The spirit of the game
But the fun isn’t over just because your pirates are all dead, no! In Walk the Plank a murdered pirate might be sleeping with the fishes but they won’t take it lying down. The first player to be eliminated (and the second in a five-player game) takes control of the ghost pirate. This gives them a chance to interfere with the remaining pirates to confound their plans and speed the game to its fatal finale.
Jollier than a Jolly Roger
It’s hard to play Walk the Plank without embracing your inner pirate. You must be ruthless and daring as you look after number one and stab (or shove) your friends in the back to secure your place aboard the ship. You also need a fair amount of luck to survive the disorderly debacle!
The unintended consequences provide the humour in the game and a lot of it. This game is filled with stand up and shout moments as the best-laid plans go awry. As pirate after pirate falls, the tension and suspense mount until ultimately the fate of the final few is revealed in one last turn of the card.
The ease and speed of play ensure a fast pace while allowing young children to play unaided. The balance of luck and skill as players attempt to outmanoeuvre one another gives a surprisingly level playing field regardless of age differences. None of this takes away from the sense of achievement when a plan comes together, meaning that you always feel responsible for the outcome. And the use of the ghost pirate is a great way to soften the blow of being first out and keeps downtime of eliminated players to a minimum.
The potential impact of each action on other players keeps everyone engaged in the game and leads to a high degree of player interaction. Temporary alliances, oaths of vengeance and retribution, and surprising and hilarious outcomes provide lots of banter. It is perfect as a first game of the evening to break the ice, as a filler between more serious games or as a high note to end on. Walk the Plank compliments other pirate themed party games like Get Bit very well.
A ship-shape game
In the standard edition of Walk the Plank the components are decent quality. The rule book is clear and concise, meaning it only takes a few minutes to learn and teach. The ship, plank pieces and Kraken are made of thick, smooth and durable card.
In either edition, the simplicity of the descriptions on the cards makes it easy for young children (and tired adults) to understand at a glance. The playing cards are also hard-wearing, though as my copy gets so much use I’ve taken the extra step of protecting them with card sleeves – mine are in 91 mm x 66 mm card sleeves and still have a little room left around the edges.
The deluxe edition of Walk the Plank does step up the quality somewhat, with more attractive and humorous artwork and detailed wooden pirate meeples. The ghost pirate is a mini-expansion to the original game and is included in the deluxe edition. The deluxe edition also comes in a more robust and protective tin.
Both versions are contained in a small-sized box, ideal as stocking fillers and for travel.
Walk the Plank made a real splash with my family; it is a firm favourite and easily our most played game. My youngest child started playing this around the age of seven and has always enjoyed it. The fact that he almost never wins but still votes for it at game nights is testament to how much fun it is. It has such high replay value, that I don’t think I’ve ever played just one game at a time.
This game is a riot with a capital Arghh! I highly recommend Walk the Plank to everyone, but especially fans of party style games, young gamers and anyone looking for a light-hearted stocking filler. If you’re lucky you might even find it on sail.