Dale Yu: Essen Preview of Ocracoke



  • Designer: Frank Liu
  • Publisher: MO ZI Game
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 20-30 minute
  • Times played: 2, with preview copy provided by MO ZI


Ocracoke is a MO ZI game that doesn’t come with a convoluted backstory.  This one uses a familiar gaming trope, Pirates!  Here, we are sailors fighting for treasure on Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge – you might be acting as part of the Navy, or you might be one of the Pirates trying to save what plunder you can.

There are 11 character cards in the game: 4 navy, 4 pirates, and 3 neutral.  These are shuffled and dealt out.  Three of them are placed off to the side to serve as islands.  Four more are placed in the center of the table to act as the body of the ship.  Finally, each player gets one card face down in their hand.  There are two double sided action cards, one that looks like a bow and one that looks like a stern.  They are placed in the appropriate places to finish off the boat.   Each player also gets a betting disk.

some of the cards

some of the cards

Each game is played over four turns – in the first round, all players must take an action.  In rounds 2 to 4, players may choose to either take an action or call a report.  After the fourth round, all players must make a mandatory Report.


There are four possible actions.  These are depicted on the bow and stern cards, which happen to be double sided.  You can only take an action if it is face up on one of the two cards.  Once you take an action, you flip that particular card over to the other side.

the 2 action cards with the reference card in the center

the 2 action cards with the reference card in the center

A1 – Combat – check 2 cards on the boat and then put them back in their original position

A2 – Swap – swap the card in your hand with one from the board AND also check another card on the board

B1 – Spying – Look at the hand cards off all the opponents

B2 – Big Waves – Switch cards in the following order – hand to board to island to hand.


If you choose to Report – all players now pick up their betting disks and try to guess at what the total of the four cards in the ship sum up to.  All players reveal their bets – and all cards are revealed.  The board is summed up (reds are negative, blues are positive).

Scoring goes:

  • +1 gold coin if your bet matches the overall color of the board (i.e. red for negative, blue for positive)
  • +2 gold coin if your bet matches the exact color and exact range of the board (i.e. red 3-4)
  • +3 gold coins if you bet zero, and the board is actually zero
  • +1 coin if your hand card matches the overall color of the board
  • +1 coin if you are the player who called the Report and if you match both color and range on your bet
The betting wheels

The betting wheels

The round/game ends after the report.  If a player has 5 coins or more, that player wins.  Otherwise, set up the board for another round and play again until someone has more than 5 coins.

My thoughts on the game

This is an interesting game of using the actions available to you to try to learn/deduce/guess the identities of the cards. You have to be very attentive to the game as you will learn many of the cards, but then you have to be able to follow them as they move around the board.

The rounds move quickly, with some taking as little as 5 or 6 minutes.  There is a bit of incentive to take an educated guess at the ship as you can score an extra point for being fully correct – you also take the initiative away from the other players as you do not allow them to learn any more information about the state of the ship.

All of the four orders are equally useful, and the rotating nature of the order cards ensures that the cards are always in flux and moving around the board and in/out of player hands.  Thus far, we haven’t really figured out a great strategy – you simply choose between the two available actions on your turn and then do you best to remember where everything is!

The artwork is well done, and I know my teenaged boys really like the mermaid card. <g>  The entire game comes in a pocket sized box, and this will make a great travel game as you really don’t need a lot of space to play or store this one.

We’ve only played it twice so far, but this one will make a nice filler/closer in our Essen game nights later this winter!

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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1 Response to Dale Yu: Essen Preview of Ocracoke

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