Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Leo Colovini


No. of Players:
2 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

The first edition of Cartagena was already published in 2000, and in the following years the game by Leo Colovini has won numerous honors and was well-liked, especially by families. Over the time is has been published by various publishers from all over the world (with some minor changes), but in the last years it was hard to find a new copy and I think that it was temporarily out of print. So, I was quite happy when RAVENSBURGER announced a reprint in 2013.

For the most part Cartagena is a very simple game. Each player gets a set of four to five pirate figures (depending on the wanted game length) and tries to be the first one to escape with all of his pirates from a jungle, following a small path to reach the saving lifeboat (in the original game the theme was a jailbreak from the fortress of Cartagena, that's where the name is taken from). The jungle is formed by placing random path segments next to each other. So, the path looks different in every new game.


The pirates are moved by playing cards from the players' hands. These cards are illustrated with a single symbol like a telescope, a key ring, a pistol etc. And it is this symbol that determines how far a pirate may move on the jungle path, for the jungle path is illustrated with the same symbols. Starting from his current position, a pirate may be moved forward to the next free matching symbol on the path, and if a symbol is occupied by another pirate, this space can be leapfrogged to the next free symbol.

Starting with a hand of five cards, there are at most five possible moves, and this leaves even for the most clever player no chance to reach the lifeboat with all of his pirates. So, there must be a chance to get new cards, and indeed these can be gained by moving backwards to the next space with one or two other pirates. Corresponding to the number of other pirates on this space, the player gets one or two new cards to his hand. The situation is different if there are three or more other pirates on that space. In that case, the space must be leapfrogged and the pirate must be drawn backwards even further to the next space with just one or two other pirates.


Despite of the simple game mechanism Cartagena offers some interesting tactical decisions which are quite unusual for a game of such limited scope. In their first match a lot of players give in to the temptation and draw their first pirates quickly towards the lifeboat. That's normally quite easy to reach, but this tactic will leave other pirates behind. If other players have drawn all of their pirates away from the starting point, it will be hard for the pirates left behind to catch up again. To win the game it is necessary to use as many chances to leapfrog an occupied symbol as possible, and s so one of the best tactics is staying in the "crowd" with all of your pirates. You then have the chance not only to leapfrog one occupied symbol but several ones.

Of course, the final outcome of the game is influenced by luck as well. If you do not draw the suitable cards, it will be difficult to keep pace with your opponents. However, from my perspective this is OK for a family game, and it allows smaller children to keep up with their parents and older brothers and sisters. The new version from RAVENSBURGER also looks pretty well and is very clearly designed. The rules are - although quite simple - excellently explained, so that even children should have no problems understanding how the game works.


It is no wonder that Cartagena is reprinted again and again. Although we are regularly inundated with a mass of new games year after year, you can rarely find family games of such simplicity and playing depth at the same time. A real evergreen!

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2014 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany