Jonathan Franklin: Review of 21 Mutinies Arrr! Edition

21 Mutinies Arrr! Edition

Designers: Perepau Llistosella

Illustrator: Pedro Soto and Chechu Nieto

Publisher: Asylum Games

Players: 3-5 (more is better)

Time: 45-75 minutes

Ages: 10+ (although I think younger players would be fine if they are decisive)

Reviewer: Jonathan Franklin

Played 5 times with a varying number of players (review copy provided by Asylum Games)

21 Mutinies is a pirate game. Ok, 50% of you can go buy it now. For the other 50%, read on because this game has some splendid twists.

Is that a rockin’ cover or what?

Have you ever wanted to be a pirate captain? Leading a merry band across the high seas in search of adventure, trouble, and riches? Who hasn’t? In 21 Mutinies, the captain chooses which of six places to sail to. You can raid trade routes or head out beyond the trade routes. Maybe raiding isn’t your thing this turn. You could also go to town, plunder shipwrecks, visit the black market, or head to the tavern. So, what is the big deal? Well, you as captain get the best goodies from whichever adventure you choose. Then the remaining players, the sailors, get to take increasingly diminishing goodies from that same location. At some point, one of the Italian sailors cries “Basta” (aka Enough!) and is sufficiently displeased with what she will get that she decides to mutiny instead of taking the paltry offering.

Mutiny means placing your token on one of four spots on the ship’s wheel. The spots differ in that you can pay money to gain victory points (called pp – prestige points) or gain money and lose a prestige point. Sailors who go after you can make the same choice you did, take the goodies at the location the captain chose or mutiny with you. Sailors can also take a cabin action (take 1 prestige, 1 doubloon, or buy 3 prestige for 5 doubloons), but that is all we will say about that, as it rarely seems like the best choice and is more there as a fallback that you can never be blocked from taking.

After all the sailors have chosen their action, the sailor who gained the most prestige points of the mutineers becomes the new captain. No, the captain cannot mutiny. :) The turn order shifts so that all others who mutinies move up in the turn order. All others remain in their previous turn order at the back of the line. The new captain must take a mutiny card. Some are compulsory (play immediately), some are voluntary (play at any time, and some are end-game. The card may prevent you from choosing a particular action, such as closing the tavern until the next mutiny, causing all sailors to discard a doubloon, or other special effects. There are 20 different different mutiny cards in the 45 card deck. If you just read this paragraph and it made the game sound too random, there is a variant where you still use the mutiny cards as a game timer, but you ignore the text on them. Ok, let’s continue.

As you might imagine from the name of the game, at the start, you prepare the mutiny card deck to have 20 mutiny cards and a final ‘last mutiny’ card. After 21 mutinies, the game ends and the player with the most prestige points wins.

Now you know how to play. Captain picks a spot other than the one chose the previous turn, sailors follow, cabin, or mutiny. Rinse, lather, repeat. But the goal of the game is to get prestige and here the six tasks the captain can choose from create a really interesting web of opportunities. The rules are only six pages excluding the mutiny card explanations, so let me briefly summarize the six locations.

1. Raid trade routes.

There are five jewel tokens flipped face up – these tokens have a main image, diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire, and skull & crossbones (wildcard). In addition, in the bottom of the tile, they sometimes have doubloons and/or rum.

There is a space below each token. The captain chooses to place his token between any of the five tiles and will have to pay the cost of the tile in doubloons and/or rum shown on that tile. The next in turn order can choose any of the remaining four, cabin, or mutiny, etc. If a sailor cannot afford any of the remaining tiles, she must mutiny or take the cabin action. After everyone has gone, the turn, is over and everyone pays for and takes the token above their piece. The slots are then refilled.

2. Raid beyond the trade routes.

This is similar to raiding trade routes except that you pay to place your token on the board and get a random face down jewel tile. You do not then have to pay any doubloons or rum shown on the bottom of the tile. If you don’t like the tile you got, you may discard it and take back what you spend to place your token there. As you might imagine, the later in turn order you are, the more you will have to spend to place your token there.

3. Punder shipwrecks.

Shipwrecks give treasure tokens rather than jewel tokens. The treasure tokens let you do tricky things, from getting rum or doubloons to wild jewels or a way to convert doubloons into presitige points. They don’t mess with other players, but they are kept face down and therefore another player might be richer than they appear or be able to purchase a jewel tile you did not think they could get.

The method of treasure distribution is different from the previous two actions. Here, the captain rolls two standard dice. They are both greater than 1, she gets a treasure token and a doubloon. If only one die is greater than 1, she get just the token. If both are 1, she gets nothing.

Now comes the brutal part. The sailor on the #2 position must have at least one of his dice be greater than 2 to get a treasure token. The sailor in the each subsequent position must have at least one of the dice be greater than his position number to get a token.

4. The Tavern

As you might imagine, the Tavern is where you get rum! The Captain takes one rum for himself. He then rolls a die and adds two to the result. Let’s say he rolls a 3 and there are three sailors in the tavern. The captain takes 5 rum to distribute. All the sailors get one rum, then those in the first two positions get another one. Sadly, the rum ran out before the third sailor there got a second one.

5. The Black Market

The Black Market is the core of the game. It permits you to trade jewels and rum for prestige and doubloons. I’ll bet you were wondering how doubloons come into the game.

The player places his token in one spot (three of a kind, four of a kind, two pairs, 2 different, 3 different, and 4 different) and then the player may spend rum to increase the doubloons and prestige they get from the trade. If I have three emeralds, and the captain chose the Black Market but did not take the three of a kind space, I can place my token there. Then I can discard the three emeralds for 3 doubloons and 3 prestige. However, if I also give up 3 rum, I can get 9 doubloons and 9 prestige from that same set of three emeralds. The rum goes back to the tavern and the jewels go out of the game.

6. The Town

The town had a diversity of actions, such as converting money into prestige, taking money, buying a jewel tile, and going to the black market. The trick is that each action can only be taken once, so if the captain uses the black market, the next sailor must take a different action.

Sweet coins in 21 Mutinies – check out their design process here – http://xaviercarrascosa.com/?m=201310

Conclusion

Whew. Now you know the basics of 21 Mutinies. I skipped over a fair number of minor tweaks, such as how gaining prestige can gain you bonuses from the score board and other more minor details.

21 Mutinies Arrr! Edition is a simple game to play that takes a fair amount of planning and has some luck. It was way more fun with more players, as the mutinies come faster and the game feels like it has more of a tussle for goodies feel, rather than with fewer players where you can ride coattails and do OK, so the game goes longer.

The game can take a bit of time to teach, so I would not leave the first game to the end of the night. After a few rounds, everything is clear and you will have smooth sailing.

The iconography is clear and the colors are lush. The board is thick cardboard, which does not matter to me, it works fine, but others wanted something fancier. The doubloons are impressively large plastic coins that have heft and bright metallic color.

If you like sailing around, getting jewels and rum, and converting them into prestige and doubloons to go get more jewels or treasure, check out 21 Mutinies Arrr! Edition.

 

This is the progression of board designs – Check out the full image at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1804803/21-mutinies-arrr-edition?size=original

 

Other Opinionated Gamers Opinions:

Opinionated Gamers Ratings:

I love it –

I like it – Jonathan Franklin

Neutral –

Not for me –

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2 Responses to Jonathan Franklin: Review of 21 Mutinies Arrr! Edition

  1. Jacob Lee says:

    Funny, as soon as you said “pirates” I was done because I’m one of the “other 50%”. However I did read to the bottom. Considering it . . .

  2. gamekahuna says:

    Ha! I feel that way about zombies – the presumption is against any zombie game.

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