Monday, November 10, 2008

#38: Corsaro - Irrfahrt im Piratenmeert

Corsaro - Irrfahrt im Piratenmeer
  • designer: Wolfgang Kramer
  • publisher: Herder Spiele
  • date: 1991
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.16
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP in the original edition; reprinted recently in The 15 Greatest Board Games In The World
  • cost: there are a couple of copies of the original game on the BGG Marketplace (both in Europe) - OTOH, you can find the aforementioned Klutz board game book from Amazon for $12.46 (Great price, btw!)
I need to start this mini-review with a disclaimer - I was a consultant for the Klutz board game book where this classic Spiel des Jahres Kinderspiel winning game was finally reprinted. (It's actually one of the highlights of my work on the book - I'm proud that I'm the one who brought this game to the editor's attention.)

That said, this is a great cooperative game, from a company (now long gone) that specialized in cooperative games. Prior to the publication of Knizia's Lord of the Rings, cooperative games didn't get a lot of love from gamers... "nobody wins!" was the common whine. But properly designed cooperative games are filled with tension... the "can we survive?" question looms over every move you make. Corsaro is a classic example of how 14 pieces (12 ships in 4 colors & 2 pirate ships), a handful of provision chips (in the original game, they're baskets of food) and a couple of dice can create magical gaming moments.

The story is simple: the players have escaped the volcanic explosion (which actually occurred in the companion game, Tabijana) and are now attempting to find safe harbor without being captured by pirates. In turn, each player rolls two dice and moves one of his ships the amount on one die & one of the two pirate ships the amount on the other. If the pirate passes or lands on a ship, they are captured.

There are a couple of spaces where you can free captive ships (at the cost of a provision) as well as two hiding tracks you can enter (also at the cost of a provision). So, you not only have to balance your die rolls, but you also need to shepherd your provisions wisely. In other words, you've got some tricky decisions ahead.

Of course, this isn't Pandemic or Space Alert - this is a game for kids! The original game contains rules for a simplified game for younger kids that worked great when my oldest was 5. The "regular" game (which is the version in the Klutz book) is a perfect fit for kids 7 years & older.

The game works well with 2, 3 or 4 players... in fact, it even works as a solitaire game. We win less than 50% of the time, which seems to me to be just about right as a pain/reward ratio that keeps us playing.

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