GAMING POINT OF LOU – HIGH SEAS COOPERATION
I love cooperative games. While fun can most certainly be found in the crucible of competition, my heart will always belong to the cooperative end of the spectrum. Recently, I had an opportunity to play a game right up my alley. A game developed by a gentleman as passionate about cooperative games as I am, and that game is entitled “Clear The Decks”
“Clear The Decks” is a Ship V. Ship combat game where you and your allies all work together to take down an Enemy Ship. At each players disposal are three different size cannon, (18, 24, and 36LB), and their associated ammunition types (grape shot, chain shot, and round shot). You also have access to various Tactics, Officers, and Marines cards each adding a wrinkle to the superb gameplay.
Now normally in this portion of a review, I get into the nuts and bolts of the game and how it operates, but I’m not going to do that this time, for a couple of reasons:
For staters as I stated above the game launched it’s Kickstarter on July 17th, and developer Chris Pinyan has done a wonderful job of detailing the game on the Kickstarter page. I’ll even entice you with the short video he assembled to show off the game. There is also a great video from Pirate Jeff of Pirates Parley that details the setup and far be it from me to steal another man’s 36LB cannon.
(Cool right??!!?? A little “Master and Commander” with a dash of “Pirates of The Caribbean” and a helping of “Assassins Creed: Black Flag” on the side!!! Suffice to say I’m loving the aesthetic, and let me say: Captain “Shinbones” Cornelius has hands made for demoing a game.)
And secondly, it wasn’t solely the stellar game mechanics that got me hooked. It was Chris’s passion and attention to detail that blew me away. When I say this is a dude who loves his game more than just about anyone I have ever met, I mean it, you can easily see the amount of time and effort that went in to designing, testing, and refining “Clear The Decks”. I know this for fact because half way through our play session with him, his brother apparated seemingly out of thin air and started giving us a detailed run down of the mathematics involved in determining the proper amount of each card type, and the probabilities of them showing up in game, and as a fan of such things I ate it all up.
Chris also took frequent breaks from the action to show us little touches that he was so enthusiastic about. For instance, the enemy ship cannon cards which come in three sizes: Light, Medium, and Heavy, he specifically had illustrator Santiago Reinoso draw the curvatures of the hull on those cards to illustrate their correct position on the ship!! Or the fact that all the flags in the top corners of the cards are legitimate maritime flags, he even used various spellings of Lieutenant (Leftennant, Leytennant) to give the cards more ”flair”. There was even a special little surprise on one of the cards that he was so proud of, I won’t spoil it here, but suffice to say it definitely made me smile. I could go on but you get my point, Chris is the real deal and this is more than a game to him, it’s a passion project.
I’ve had the chance to play the game a few times, and it was something that Sir Jon said at the table during this years CT FIG that really stuck with me over the last couple of days. His quote was: “You know who would love this?, the folks up at Gary Con” (for those of you that don’t know, Gary Con is the yearly celebration of the life of Gary Gygax one of the founders of Dungeons and Dragons) and the more that I thought about it, the more I completely agree with him. I cut my teeth on D & D and this game scratches that itch in a way that not even the official Wizard’s Of The Coast games do. The enemy ship cards take the place of the Dungeon Master, and it’s the 4 of you at the table trying to overcome whatever challenges randomly appear before you. And much like you can scale a D&D encounter’s difficulty you can also scale this game by adding or subtracting ship cards. With the simple addition of a fourth card stack what was once a somewhat challenging encounter can turn into a bloody war of attrition, where victory isn’t whether or not you made it out unscathed (spoiler alert, you won’t) but on how much you can mitigate the damage and survive just one more round, and hopefully steal a heroic victory from the jaws of certain defeat it’s bloody brilliant!!!
I’m not a professional reviewer and have never claimed to be. I do try to keep some semblance of objectivity MOST of the time, but every now and again a game comes along where I completely fanboy and I can’t hide my enthusiasm. “Clear The Decks” is one of those games. I literally found myself refreshing the Kickstarter page on Tuesday waiting for it to launch, and I believe I was the third one in line to back the project, and I hope you all will too. Chris was kind enough to let me borrow a copy of the game to take home so I could play it more and really codify my thoughts before putting this article together, and believe me when I say it is going to hurt having to pack it up to send back to him.
That’s all for this time everyone, do me a favor and be sure to stop by the official Crispy Games Co. Facebook page and “Like” them.
Until Next Time Everyone,
Be Good To Your Fellow Nerds.