Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rum & Bones.. Not really a dice-fest attrition grind, but almost.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love the pirate genre and the Golden Age of Piracy (1660-1720). I loved it long before those silly Johnny Depp movies. Indeed, I even have an art print of Blackbeard on my wall.

So it was a no-brainer when my friend Jeff popped over on this Sunday for a quick game of the latest craze, Rum & Bones, by Coolminiornot. I've been posting my paintjobs on Cool Mini when it was a relatively unknown website, but in the last couple of years they exploded with one Kickstarter hit after another.

The premise of Rum & Bones is that Davey Jones has escaped or something, and we pirate scum are fighting over his treasure and magic. Or something like that.

In the core game, humans fight the undead as we board each other ships. There is thus no ship to ship combat, just a boarding action.

The rules are very simplistic and likely aimed at the 13 year old teenage boy crowd who will enjoy the oohing and aawing over the minis.

Coolmini has plenty of minis in the game, up to their eye pleasing sculpts, but the vast majority have the same basic stats as cannon fodder. Lots of minis with simple rules. This seems to be a common theme with Coolmini, a boardgame being the avenue to sell lots and lots of minis. I'm guessing soft plastic minis have a high profit margin. Lump a ton of them in a box, slap on easy rules, and voila.

Anyways, I was playing the undead (purple colour), and Jeff was playing Humans (greenish-blue).

I have skeleton deckhands and bosuns...

and heroes like my Captain and such...

The heroes have special attacks that you use to pay for in "gold" that you acquire every turn or when you kill the enemy.  "Blade of the Damned, Lash of Torment," etc as you can see below.

Your deckhands are basically mindless idiots that can only go forward over the boarding planks, while your heroes have a little more leeway and can also swing from the rigging into the enemy ship.

You fight it out killing the other guy, but everyone is undead or cursed (even the Humans), so they just keep coming back and back and back until you win 8 victory points. VPs can be won by damaging the other guy's masts, destroying their guns or locker, and the Kraken..

What's that you say... Kraken??

Why yes, if you use too many magic cards (the ones with tentacles on them), there is a chance the Kraken is summoned, wreaking havoc on both crews.

There is not much to this game, as I guess Coolmini figures tactics, flanks, etc, is too much to handle for teenagers.

It's a grind back and forth over the planks as you can see:

Lots of dice rolling and little movement in the middle until the Kraken shows up between the two shps and then all hell breaks loose.

Before the Kraken..

 After the Kraken.. . as everybody nearby is killed and removed (until respawned back).

I roll lots of dice attacking, he rolls lots of dice attacking. Once in a while, we play a card. Guys get killed in the middle, and guys get put back in the respawning areas in the ship. A war of attrition with the luckier guy getting the edge.

I wasn't the luckier guy.

He visits my ship so often, I should have made tea for his cursed crew.

I went for the Kraken, and inflicted 15 out of 16 damage to its health, doing 99% of the work. Jeff saunters in after and kills it with 1 hit point for a total of 16 and gets the 2 VP, some gold, some powers.



He then destroys my locker for another 2 VPs.

I barely make it on to his ship. My high water mark - the furthest I got on his ship - was in the centre before he beat me off with dice rolls and pushed me right back. 

With almost no strength in my right side, he bludgeoned his way to get one of my masts for the win.

I can't really say it was a grind, as the game only lasted an hour, but it felt like it a bit. Similar to WW1 going over the top attrition, you basically charge over the planks and get decimated. Same with the other guy.

And I can't really say it was a dice fest, as you mainly roll 4 dice most of the time. But you do it over and over and over and over..but it sure came close to being a mindless dice and card luckfest. My one non-walk-over-the-plank maneuver, having one of my heroes swing over to the other side in the rigging, resulted in him falling into the drink.

This game I hate to say, has all the worst aspects of Ameritrash that Europeans complain about. I'm no Eurogamer, but this thing was pure teenage boyish. Virtually 100% luck and no tactics.

Avast me hearties... I'll try it again, but so far, I'm not feeling it.

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