Smoke fill your eyes as you watch the ship sinking in the sea, fire still raging on top of part the decks that haven’t sunk yet. Your shipmates are loud and raucous as they celebrate their plunder. Bags of doubloons spill over on the deck as they run their grubby hands through it, fighting over who gets their share and how much of it.
BANG! Your eardrums rattle as you look up and see the Captain holding his musket high in the air, smoke trailing out of it. Instant silence fills the air except the sound of waves lapping up against the hull of the hip. “Keep your hands off!” the Captain yells. “Be proud you scalawags! Not a man lost and more bounty than we expected! The First Mate will gather the loot and divide it accordingly…” “I want my share now!” shouts a pirate about five people away from you slowly getting up. “Bang!” A small rivulet of blood drips out from right between his eyes as you look at the First Mate in shock. “Any other dead men?” the First Mate asks. The pirates shake their heads no as they slowly take a step back. “Get back to work!” the Captain yells and the pirates scramble to their stations grumbling about what they’ll do if they end up getting short changed.
You return to your duties, plotting your scheme to get as much of that loot as you can without getting caught. A smirk creeps from your lips as you chuckle lightly thinking about whom you want to steal from the most.
Publisher: Smirk & Dagger Games
Game Designer: Stuart Sisk
Artwork: Lindsey Look
Players: 3 – 8 Ages: 10 to adult
Playing Time: 30 – 45 Minutes
Game Mechanics: Auction/Bidding, Variable Player Powers, Press Your Luck
Contents: 8 crew cards, 60 doubloons, 50 pirates code cards, 1 phase order card, 1 Jacques Pierre card and 1 bag to hold the loot.
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
Dread Curse is a game of push your luck with plenty of opportunity to create good fortune for yourself. Players play a different role card every turn (usually) and draw doubloons from the bag while stealing from fellow pirates to increase their share of the bounty have the biggest stash at the end of the game. However their are two Black Spot doubloons in the game, don’t get caught with one of these or you automatically lose.
There are five phases to each round. Draw Coins, Steal, Pay Jacques, Cut and Run and All Hands on Deck. Except for the setup phase, you bid to see who gets the Captain card. From there on, the Captain randomly shuffles and hands out the character cards to the remaining players. The cards are numbered 1 – 8 and have variable cheat powers the may be played on the draw phase or steal phase based on the text on the card. Each player also has a hand of three pirate code cards that can be played also based on what the text on the card says. The interesting thing about these cards are that they are harder to come by and they are worth the gold value at the end of the game adding to the total of your stash. This of course, make the players “think” about whether or not it’s worth it to play the card.
During the Draw phase, all players draw from the back according to their text on their character card except for the Cabin Boy. The default amount is one coin unless your text states to draw more.
The Steal phase has each player stealing from another player in some amount unless their character cards states otherwise.
The Pay Jacques phase allows players to pay two doubloons to get a new pirate code card if they so desire.
The Cut and Run phase is when the players decide they are staying in or getting out of the game when they think they have enough loot or don’t want to get stuck with the Black Spot.
And finally the All Hands on Deck phase is when the players bid for the Captaincy with at two doubloons, more if there is a tie.
The loot is face down for the game unless the players reveal it during the All Hands on Deck phase.
When I first acquired this game, I had heard it was very Citadels like. I guess from the Character cards and their uniques powers that is true, but the comparison stops their. I had also heard it was better than Citadels and I’ll talk about that in a minute.
Dread Curse certainly draws some influence from Citadels but is a completely different game and plays that way. There is always a bit of the leader gets stolen from the most in this game in my experience which could be a bad thing for the stealing players. The Captain has the higher chance of having one of the two Black Spot coins as the captain has the option of drawing the most coins out of the bag. Being the Captain is great in the begging but risky towards the end of the game. The trick is to know when to use your powers, paying attention so you don’t forget to use your powers and knowing when to cut and run.
There is a definite bit of strategy to this game while keeping it very light, easy and fun. It is a social game for sure as people are laughing, stealing and trying to screw each other.
The components of Dread Curse are very well done. The Character cards are big, maybe to big but it doesn’t effect game play at all, just isn’t as easy to tote around as it could be. The doubloons are your typical card board pieces and the Pirate Code cards are all coated to prevent wear and tear. The bag to hold the coins is better than most I have received with most games lately. The artwork on Dread Curse is fantastic! Probably my favorite artwork of the year so far. Great job here!
My final thoughts on Dread Curse are this. It’s a fun, quick, very easy game to learn. Great for the meta game or waiting for others to show up at your game night. Perfect for family game night or a quick lunch time game at work. It isn’t better than Citadels like some claim but it is just as good and maybe quicker to play. They are different enough from each other to own both games in your collection. For advance gamers, you can play it in 10 minutes straight out of the box! That is a big plus. A solid game from Smirk & Dagger Games and definitely belongs in your collection if this type of game suits you.
I am giving Dread Curse 7 out of 10 stars as it is a nice addition to your library providing fun, social gaming and quick play for almost any situation.
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.
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