Alain Orban





In Santy Anno the players take up the roles of seasoned seadogs who are looking to find their ship after a night's drinking bought, and it has become a contest to be among the first to reach their ships since it will be the loosers of this contest (and the game) who will have to scrub the deck (and clean the table and glasses) for the next voyage. Thus, each player is assigned the identity of a pirate, and a total of eight ship cards is arranged in a circle on the table. Each of the player's sits next to one of the ships and may put a marker of his pirate on that ship, in it will be from this ship where he has to start movement of his pirate on the following turn.

Each of the ship cards shows a ship which has four essential elements: the crow's nest, the sails, the hull and the nameplate. Furthermore, the ship cards also bear a number from 1 to 8. Each of the ship's elements is coloured differently, so that - of all eight ships placed on the table - there is always a pair of two ships which shares an element of the same colour. During a turn, a number of boarding cards will be revealed which must be acted upon by all the players simultaneously to find out which ship they are moving to. To resolve the movement, these cards show different elements of the ship which may either have no colour or a colour crossed out, meaning that either all players have to move to the ship with the same coloured element or that the movement is made by all players except those occupying the ships with the crossed out element. Likewise, the other boarding cards feature moving mechanism's centered around the ships' nameplates or numbers, or otherwise just on a colour which may also determine which ship a pirate must move to.

This shortened description of the movement procedure may not be easy to understand, but it should be sufficient if you can catch the general meaning that each boarding card makes each player move to a different ship. Since more than one boarding card have to be acted upon in a turn, a player need to plot his way among the ships in order to find out to which ship he should finally move, and he needs to do it as fast as possible since he must try to be among the first players to reach his final ship.

Once a player has decided which ship he finally needs to move to, he moves around the table, sits down on the chair next to the ship in question and may put his player's marker onto the harbour board to signalize that he has finished movement. Here the real fun starts, since usually the players start running around quite simultaneously. Since no direction around the playing table is prescribed, this usually results in a lot of chaos - and this is even strengthened if one player has made a misplotting and possibly wants to run to the wrong ship.

Once all players have finished, it will be evaluated if each player has acted correctly on the current boarding cards and has moved to the right ship. Each player who has found his correct ship then is awarded a gold coin, the value of it depending on how fast he was to reach his final ship. Here the sooner players get coins of higher value, whereas the others may receive nothing or just a single coin.

Staring another round, the game is continued with new boarding cards (one card more than last turn) and keeps running until five rounds are completed. Then the players will count their money and the player with most money will be the new Captain and win the game.

However, as known from Ca$h n Gun$, the rules do not stop here, but instead the guys from REPOS have thrown in a bunch of cards and ideas which expand the game. Thus, on the one hand you get additional boarding cards, making movement of the players dependent on even other factors like the position of Coco the Parrot on each of the ship cards or a random move of all players for a number of ships to the left or right. Even more confusion still is added by the action cards which may be added between the third and fourth boarding card, serving as further obstacles by possibly reversing the order of the following cards or forcing the players to run around the table backwards…

As you might see, Santy Anno may even more be qualified to be a "Beer'n Prezels" game than Ca$h n Gun$ last year. Although the game contains alternative rules which make the running around the table unnecessary, it is exactly the element of movement from which the game derives its fun. Fast associative thinking is the key element of the game, since the players will need to plot their course among the ships fast in order to have a chance to win higher gold coins. Difficulty is added by the fact that the number of boarding cards increases during the game, and if you include all additional rules it becomes quite a teaser to keep a correct overview for all the moves a player needs to make.

In a way, Santy Anno compares to Friedemann Friese's Turbo Taxi which was released in 2005. That game also was centered on fast thinking, and what is more both games also are similar concerning the fact that absolutely no strategic element is included. Santy Anno is meant to entertain, and if you take this fact as granted and do not expect any strategic element you might otherwise expect from a cardgame you will not be disappointed. Provided you have enough space and solid furniture, this hunt around the table means a lot of fun, and especially if a higher number of players participates the results often are hilarious.

Finally, REPOS PRODUCTION also took up an another trend they established with Ca$h n Gun$: together with Santy Anno they handed out a special Blackbeard-Expansion at the conventtion, featuring rules which block a ship in each round for the movement of the players and which just result in even more chaos by the fact that several players now may have to move to the same ship.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany