Dale Yu: Review – Bermuda Pirates (and a small Essen Preview of 50 Clues)

Bermuda Pirates

  • Designer: Jeppe Norsker
  • Publisher: FoxMind
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 7+
  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by FoxMind

Bermuda Pirates was a game I had heard nothing about prior to seeing it on the FoxMind stand in Indianapolis at GenCon 2019, but it was a game that had constant hoots and laughter from the gamers demo-ing it, so I thought it would be worth taking a look… From the publisher’s description:

The Bermuda Triangle has been know for its treacherous sea. An adventurous band of pirates has set its sights on an island known for the treasures it conceals. On their way, they must overcome mysterious, suddenly appearing, whirlpools that will instantly drag their boat to the bottom of the sea. Will you be able to navigate your boat to the island in this mystic sea, amass the treasures and make your way back safely? Will you outsmart competing bands of pirates trying to get their hands on the treasures before you?
Bermuda Pirates is a highly original game where players’ boats are literally captured by the sea on their way to the treasures.

Memory, dexterity, and sharp observation skills will be put to the test to prevail in this captivating game for the whole family.

In Bermuda Pirates, each player must push their boat with only one finger and reach the treasure island in the center of the board and grab some treasures. Avoid the whirlpools (magnets) as your boat might sink and you will need to start again! First player to get 4 different kinds of treasures wins!

In this game, players race to be the first player to return to their home dock with one of each of the four colors of treasure gems – each obtainable from a specific dock on the central island.

The unique board is a two layered affair. There are four grey underboards which have metal discs in varying locations embedded in them. If you look real close, I think you can actually see where the discs are – but that would take the fun out of the game. Simply shuffle and rotate the grey boards to put them on the table. Then, place the playing surface on top of it, plug the colored flags in the hole and then sit around the board so that each player has a home dock in front of them.

Players get the matching plastic boat to the color of their home dock as well as a number of buoys. On a turn, the active player will start with their boat at the home dock. Then, by pushing it with a single finger, you move it across the surface of the water. You are not allowed to run over the shipwrecks or islands that you see.

Your goal here is to pick up treasure. If you can navigate safely to the central island and pull up next to one of the docks, you can load one gem of the appropriate color onto the back platform on your ship. You then can try to sail on to get more treasure (push your luck) or turn around and try to return home. Again, the goal is to get one of each color gem back to your own dock.

If you pass by one of the metal disks, the curiously strong magnet in the front of your boat will dip down and you’ll be frozen in place. Your turn ends. The action of the magnet is so strong that if you happen to be carrying gems on the back of your boat, they will be catapulted off the boat in the process. If they land anywhere on the board, they remain there, and these gems can simply be picked up by any player who passes by it. The rules do state that if a gem is catapulted off a boat but lands on a player’s dock, then that player got very lucky and keeps the gem in their scoring pile.

At the end of the turn, you have the option of placing or moving one of your buoys. You can use them to try to remember where a metal disk is. You can also use them to fool your opponents or obstruct their path. While you cannot block someone into their home dock, you can pretty much put them anywhere else. Boats cannot move or hit the buoys, so boats will have to go around them… and if you are clever with your placement, maybe you’ll be able to force an opponent into a disc to prematurely end their turn.

That’s pretty much the whole game. Some of the initial turns are short, as you simply explore around trying to find a safe path to the central island, and assuredly, you’ll run into some of the metal discs as you do this. We have found that sometimes it is beneficial to mark where the magnets are, but honestly, it’s a good memory game to have to remember where they are – at least in your own quadrant – so that maybe your opponents will fall victim to the metal discs near you.

Here you can see Karen taking her turn: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3Iuf3mBcu5/

Bermuda Pirates is a nice dexterity game, but one that is probably better suited for families with kids. I mean, our adult group had a fun time with it, but I think that it’s not something that we’d pull out week after week. However, with smaller kids, probably early elementary school age, this would be a big hit. It’s colorful, easy to play, and teaches good memory skills as well as requiring decent dexterity.

So, this was going to be an Essen Preview piece, but after writing it, I found out that FoxMind does not have plans to have this at Essen 2019 as it is slated to be a 2020 release in Germany. However, as this piece is already written, might as well publish it now.

Also, it gives me a chance to mention that the designer of Bermuda Pirates is also responsible for one of the games high on my Essen Watchlist is 50 Clues – an immersive puzzle game that offers the experience of an escape room, but in a format that can be played at home. You combine objects, solve puzzles and decipher codes to complete the story. A smartphone or tablet keeps track of the solutions and provides multistep hints if the need arises.

There are a series of three games so far in this line, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about them and hopefully bringing a set of these games back home to play with my local group here… I’m excited about the prospect of a new puzzle game series, and one where the story is cohesive and part of the puzzles. From the initial reviews that I have read, this series is more complex than the Exit or Unlock games, so we’ll see how that challenge goes!

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: Review – Bermuda Pirates (and a small Essen Preview of 50 Clues)

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