Pie rats of the carob bean farm

Game Overview: You play as a Pie Rat (Pirate) Captain that is attempting to lure additional rats that will join your crew.  Beware though as other Captains will use their charisma to lure your crew members who are not loyal to you.  Once you have a crew of Pie Rats and if you have enough strength, you can attempt to loot pies from the window sill of the farmer’s wife.  Loot the pies with the most victory points and you will come out victorious.

Box Contents: The box includes two decks of cards that are in their own deck box along with the rules manual.  The box itself is a little big for what is actually included.  However, it does allow a full size rules manual.  The box may allow for you to store any future expansions in it but you will need to take apart the cardboard insert that is included.  The art of the cards is fantastic with the highlight being the Pie Rats.  Not a single rat is duplicated with each having different clothes, accessories, and their own unique name.  In total, there are 54 different rats. 

The cards are well made.  However, both decks have a very noticeable smell to them that I have never experienced with any other cards.  I am not sure if this is specific to my version or across all games.

Clarity of Rules: The rules manual is sixteen pages long and is very easy to read with the black text on the white background.  The rules are well done.  It provides examples of game play and goes into detail on the special cards that are found during the game.

Game Play: When setting up the game, you first choose a Pie Rat Captain.  They all have the same attributes and the only differences are the art and names associated with them.

Each player will draw three cards to start their hand.  Within their hand they will find Pie Rat crew members, charisma cards, or action/item cards.

Each players turn is broken down into six phases.

 Phase 1

The lead player reveals one of the ten pie cards currently in play.  Each pie has a weight and point total associated with it.  The points range from one to three points and the weight from eight to eighteen.  The pies are the only way to earn victory points in the game.

Phase 2

Each player can play any charisma cards in their hand that get attached to their captain.  All captains start with a charisma of 3.  The charisma is used to steal crew members from another captain to be added to your crew which will increase your strength in looting the pies.

Phase 3

Play any additional crew members from your hand.

Phase 4

In this phase, starting with the first player, you will decide if you are protecting or luring.  If you protect, you identify one of your crew members that will be protected this round.  You will typically do this if you have a crew member that has a low loyalty rating and a high strength.

Phase 5

If you chose to lure, you will attempt to obtain a crew member from another captain that hasn’t been protected.  To do this, you must use your captain’s charisma along with any charisma cards you have.  You must have more charisma than the total of the other captain (without any charisma cards) along with the crew member’s loyalty that you are luring.  If you can do this, that crew member is now loyal to you (for now) and joins your crew.  Any charisma cards that have been used to obtain the new crew member must be discarded.

Phase 6

The final phase, allows you to loot a pie if you have enough strength across your entire crew.  If you do, you take that card which will count towards your overall victory points.  Any crew member that was played to obtain the pie will be discarded as they have gone away to enjoy the pie.

You then draw back up to three cards.  You may find cards in your hand that can be used to disrupt the game for the other Captains.  You may force another captain to discard a crew member of your choice, lure crew members away and into your crew outside of the normal lure stage, double the strength of a single crew member, steal charisma cards, or the ability to block someone that attempts to lure a crew member from you.

Play continues by going through each phase until all 10 pie cards have been looted.  Whichever captain has the most victory points will be declared the winner.

Replay Ability: The replay ability of the game will come with how the cards are dealt out each game with so many different crew members in play.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 10+.  Someone as young as 7 or 8 years old should be able to easily play the game.  Just be aware that reading will be required for the action/item cards.  It will also require some simple addition or subtraction.  In addition, there are actions that directly remove cards from a player which may not always work for younger kids.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: We like the unique theme and the back story of the game with rats coming together to steal pies from the farmer’s wife on the carob bean farm. The play on words definitely will draw players to the game as well.  Having the unique art for each pie rat is greatly appreciated.  This is something that you rarely see from the smaller game publishers.  Most times the same art is recycled throughout the game.

In teaching the game, we found that there is confusion at times with understanding the charisma abilities as they are used differently at different times of game.  When you are attempting to lure other crew members to your side, you combine the total charisma level of your captain.  However, when you are the player having your crew members lured away from you, you only use the charisma of the captain along with the loyalty level of the crew member.  Those extra charisma cards are not being used.

While this prevents a run away leader by having the most charisma, it can get confusing until you have had some experience with the game.

Speaking of charisma, there can be too much charisma in play.  There are 17 charisma cards in the deck and after attaching them you only remove them after needing to boost your charisma to obtain a crew member, which is not always needed.

The last player in each round seems to have a big advantage because they know if the other players ahead of them have chosen to protect a crew member or lure one.  You most likely will want to do the opposite of them as it would make no sense to protect if everyone ahead of you has done the same thing.

While it has a minor impact on the game, you should be aware that there are references on cards to actions that are not even used in the game.  You have to go to the final paragraph in the rules manual to learn that these reference future expansion decks.  Doing this causes additional confusion during the game and is something else you have to explain to new players.  If they are to be used for a future expansion, then they should be released with that expansion instead of the base game.

One final issue that only comes into play if you go above four players is the recommended player level of 2-6 players.  There are only four captain cards included in deck.  To get to a five or six player level, you must create your own captains by using blank cards that are provided.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  The rules manual references the Curse of the Farmer’s Wife as an expansionHowever, at the time of this review there is no reference to this expansion either with games being sold or games in progress on the Wild East Game website.

Reviewing the website that is specific to the game (http://carobbeanfarm.com/), some information is provided concerning this add-on where some of the looted pies may be poisoned by the farmer’s wife.  However, there is no known date for release of this expansion.

          **A review copy was provided to us.