Dread curse

Game Overview: Ahoy Matey, you are playing to earn the most valuable stash of treasure in Dread Curse.  However, you must avoid holding any of the Black Spot treasure pieces at the end of the game, or you lose.  Each round, you will be bidding to be one of the seven different crew members that have different abilities.  Will being the Captain benefit you this round or perhaps you want to be the pilot? You have a chance to steal from the other players each round, which can be good or bad. You are only looking out for yourself as you try to put it to all of the other players who also want to hold the most treasure.  Will you push your luck by cutting and run to win the game, only to find out later that someone else was more cunning than you?

Box Contents:  The box contents are top notch here.  The rules manual is probably one of the nicest that I have ever seen from the art on it to the quality of the paper. It includes an oversized draw string bag that even fits the largest of hands, high quality cardboard Dubloons (coins) and cards.  The box insert holds the cards and the coins are kept in the draw string bag.

Clarity of Rules: The rules are printed on a seven page manual and were detailed enough where our eleven year old son Cade, read through them and taught the game to rest of the family.

Game Play:  The game starts with players drawing to see who will be the Captain in the first round.  The other players then determine which crew members they will choose for that round.  Each has their own ability that can impact the outcome of the game.  Some examples, the Captain  chooses to draw 2, 3, or 4 coins from the bag.  Initially, drawing four coins is preferred as you build up your coins.  As the coins become sparse, there is a chance one of the dreaded Black Spot coins is still in play and the Captain may choose to draw fewer coins.  The First Mate is required to draw one less coin than the captain.  The Pilot draws three coins and keeps two.  The Bosun draws two coins.   Once the draw coin phase has completed, all players perform the steal actions as dictated by their crew member for this round.  Some examples are the Captain is forced to steal two coins.  The First Mate gives a coin to a player instead of stealing one, which is important if you have the Black Spot.  The Pilot can look at two coins before deciding which one to steal.   The next action is players can choose to pay Jacques Pierre.  When they pay Jacques, they are able to purchase a Pirates Code card.  These cards can play havoc with the game and can turn things around quickly.  Each card has a value for a coin that is used in scoring at the end of the game if it is not used.  All players then choose to Cut and Run or stay in the game.  They only cut and run if they feel they have enough coins to win the game and they don't want to push their luck by adding the Black Spot.  The final action, all players bid to be the Captain and the other crew positions.  The game continues until all coins have been drawn or one player remains in the game.  At that point, any player with a Black Spot automatically loses, even if they own the most coins.  After adding up the coins and any unused Pirate Code cards, the winner is declared and will go down in Pirate lore as the scourge of the seven seas.

Replay Ability:  The results are going to be different every time with the random draw of the coins and bidding process that takes place through out the game. 

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 14+, we think you can go down to the age of 10.  Just make sure the younger kids can deal with how quickly the tide turns in this game since you can go from thinking you will win to having the Black Spot handed to them.

What We Liked/Didn't Like:  Even though the drafting of a new crew member is important to the strategy of the game, it seems a little tedious at times.  We liked the way the game changes things up and allows other players to potentially win, even if other players gathered more coins than them with the two Black Spot coins in play.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  You are able to upgrade your cardboard coins to wooden coins by purchasing them separately at the Smirk and Dagger website.

       *A review copy was provided to us.