Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Captain's Cursed - flawed but captivating

GenCan't Roll and Write Library - The Captain's Curse

The Captain's Curse is an interesting little exercise in trying to loot an island stuffed with pirate's treasure while the island sinks around you. If nothing else, it does a good job ramping up the tension as the game goes by.

Like all the games in the contest, it's a free PnP and, like most of them, construction consists of printing out the player board. In this case, the board shows an island with thirty-six different treasures (six of each type) and dotted lines cutting up the island. In the center is a box with six columns of numbers, one for each type of treasure.

Okay, here's how you play. On your turn, you roll a white die and a black die. You choose one and circle a number of the column and a treasure that matches that column on the island. You have to fill out numbers in order (half are one to six and the other half are six to one)  but you can cross out numbers to reach the one you rolled. 

AND, if you choose the black die, the curse goes off. Choose one dotted line, fill it in, and scratch off all the island that's on the far side of the line, sinking it into the ocean. Some of the lines let you get away with only little pieces of the island but you quickly end up sinking big chunks.

Any uncircled treasures that get sunk are lost forever. If all of a type are gone, you have no choice but to cross off the remaining numbers in that column. 

The first time you roll doubles, you circle that double on a chart on the bottom and you have to use the cursed black die. However, after that, you can cross off that circle to adjust a die plus or minus one.

The game ends when you either sink the island or finish all six columns. Your score is the sum of the circled numbers minus the number of crossed off numbers. You automatically lose if you sink the island but you need at least seventy points to win. There are other accomplishments, like not sinking too much of the island, to get a higher rank.

I have had a lot of fun with the Captain's Curse. The rules all fit together nicely. I use solitaire games for quick mental breaks so it's short and simple format works for me. And the sinking island creates a lot of excitement.

But... I can't help but think that it has a false sense of choices. You're working with really the role of one die, not the bell curve to two. You will always choose the white die if you can. You're going to pick the outer treasures first so you have them before that part of the island sinks. And you're going to follow a fairly prescribed path of sinking the island.

Ultimately, I don't think this game offers as many real choices as it seems to. The dice are going to end up dictating what you do most of the time. The experiences fun but I think, in the long run, there isn't a lot of replay value here.

There are games in the GenCan't Library that have pretty much guaranteed themselves a permanent place in my solitaire binder. The Captain's Curse is probably a short timer though.

Having just said that, I have no regrets trying out the Captain's Curse. Free files with material costs under two cents and it definitely entertained me.

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