Author: Michail Antonow &
Jens-Peter Schliemann

Publisher: Winning Moves 2004

Awards: none



The Caribbean in the 18th Century: over the years, the colonies have become rich by trade and mining, and thus they have become a perfect victim for pirates. A lot of treasure has been accumulated in these cities, and it is these treasures the players will be after...

As can be seen, the players in this game will take up the roles of Pirates who try to spread their infamous reputation by raiding the Caribbean colonies. However, unlike other pirate games the players will not have their own ships as playing pieces, but instead each round they will need to bid for the services of the six different pirate ships in the game in order to enlist the help of these different ships.

As starting setup, the gameboard is spread between the players and the six pirate ships are placed at their starting positions on different spaces on the board. Furthermore, the 16 available treasure chests will be randomly mixed, and while six of them will be revealed and placed on the cities indicated on the chests, the remaining ten chests will be stacked into pairs of two chests each and they will be put away for use later in the game. To finish preparations, each player will receive a set of seven "Bribe cards" (displaying Rum barrels with a value from "-1" to "5") and a holder in which to put those cards.

The game now can start, and as indicated above the players now will try to convince the captains of the six different ships on the board to join them for this turn. The question which player will control each of the ships is determined in a bidding round which takes place at the beginning of each turn. Thus, each player now simultaneously and secretly assigns six one his bribe cards to each of the pirate ships, whereas the seventh card of each player remains hidden and may be used as an additional bid in case of a draw. Once all players have made their bids, the movement phase starts.

The movement phase for each of the six ships is dealt with in an identical manner: The first thing all players do is that they will simultaneously reveal the bid which they have made for that ship, and control of that ship for this turn will go to the player who has made the highest bid. The player now may move this ship at his digression, and the number of spaces the ship may be moved corresponds to the number on the bribe card which the player has used. However, the movement allowance is reduced by one for each "-1" card the other players have used to bid for this ship.

I f the highest bid resulted in a draw between two or more players, the bidding will continue and now each player may decide whether he wants to use his seventh bribe card to increase his bid. Once again, the players simultaneously reveal whether they want to use their seventh card or not, and if now a highest bidder is found that player may move the ship according to the number on the first bribe card which he has used for this ship. If the result is still a draw, the ship may not move this turn at all.

While moving the pirate ships, it is the aim of each player to raid one of the towns on the gameboard and load the treasure chest which he must try to bring to one of his three hideouts. Thus, a ship may...

  • move around on the gameboard;
  • raid a town and load a treasure chest;
  • steal a treasure chest from a ship in an adjacent space;
  • exchange its treasure chest with a chest from a ship in an adjacent space or
  • give ist chest to an empty ship in an adjacent space.

Once a ship with a treasure chest has reached a hideout the player may remove the chest from play and will receive its value in gold. However, in most cases the problem will be that a player will not be able to raid a town and then bring the treasure to one of his hideouts all in one turn. This is the point in the game when the real strategy will start, since now it becomes obvious that a player will have to take the positions of the different ships on the gameboard into calculation while making his bids. Being highest bidder on ships in good strategic positions sometimes allows a player to cause a "chain reaction" which will assist him to get valuable treasures, whereas even a well-figures plan still may be thwarted by a player who has made a higher bid on a ship necessary for a player's calculations...

The game will be won by the first player to accumulate a fixed amount of gold, with the amount of gold depending on how many players are participating.

To my mind, the most outstanding fact about Karibik is the very high degree of player interaction. The author actually succeeded in integrating the bidding mechanism very well into the mechanics of a boardgame, and this in turn makes the game very speculative with good "bluffing" options and rather fun to play. Gathering treasures is one point, but it is equally satisfactory to see a player's plans go bust due to a well-timed bribe card, and this element of malicious joy gives the game a very high replayability rating...

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany