Dead Men Tell no Tales is the one who says who is… alive!
The famous pirate ship, the Skelit’s Revenge, is finally stormed and is on fire! Which is a godsend for you, because it contains a lot of prestigious treasures. It’s time to get on the boat and collect all the treasures. But it will be necessary to face the enemy pirates still alive on the boat and above all, not to succumb to the flames! A boat that catches fire is a boat that will take water! With your crew you hurry to board and that’s when you feel all the power of the fire around you. You pass one, then two coins while looking for your loot, it is then that you find yourself face to face with skeleton pirates who will do anything to prevent you from advancing further. Take out your saber and start cleaning up; there is not much time left before the boat succumbs to the flames.
Dead Men Tell no Tales, is a cooperative opus from Minion Games, released on Kickstarter and funded in 2014. Intended for 2 to 5 wealth-hungry pirates for 13 years and for games of about 75 minutes. Created by Kane Klenko and illustrated by the duo Jason D. Kingsley and Chris Ostrowski, this game invites us to take on the role of pirates in search of the famous treasures of Skelit’s Revenge.
However, the task will not be easy, since the fire on the boat will dictate to us when it will sink and above all it will prevent us from searching it without leaving feathers there. And above all, a lot of energy. You will have to manage the fire, the enemy pirates to fight, completely search the boat so as not to miss anything and bring back the treasures as you go (it would be too easy to take everything in one trip, wouldn’t it?). All on your small boat in order to bring everything back to your boat. A rhythmic game, with a lot of tension, surprise and difficulty.
To be more precise, in Dead Men Tell no Tales, the goal of the game will initially be to discover the Skelit’s Revenge boat as much as possible as a dungeon crawler to have the best chance of finding all the treasures to be recovered. Then bring all the treasures from the boat back to your boat; you choose the number of treasures to bring back according to the chosen difficulty. Then, all the players will have to escape from the boat!
So far, it’s clear, it’s simple, it’s “in the nose”, but that’s without counting on the deceit of Kane Klenko who will offer multiple ways to lose the game. Indeed, you lose the game if, the boat explodes a certain number of times (and yes, … powder barrels in some rooms can wreak havoc), if you have to add pirate skeleton tokens and you don’t have any. more in the reserve. Or, if a room is destroyed, if you can no longer bring all the treasures back to your boat, if your pirate dies once all the treasures are revealed, etc … You understood it, this game is ruthless, but damn Well.
Let’s take a closer look at how a game turn unfolds in Dead Men Tell no Tales.
He was a small ship …
Each player chooses a pirate, a game board with its fatigue and combat gauge, a special equipment card, its player pawn and 5 action tokens. To begin with, a player will always draw a “room” tile from the boat to uncover the boat and place it on the game board, formed by starting tiles. When a tile is placed, we randomly draw (from a bag) a discovered pawn which can be a treasure, a bonus token or a bad pirate!
Then, the active player will spend his 5 action tokens among the available actions. The first is to walk (move from one room to another). You can also run (move up to 2 pieces). Fight the fire (lower the fire level by 1 in the room which is represented by a 6-sided die). Eliminate 1 pirate skeleton token (which is an automatic success). Also, recover a token (treasures, bonuses, etc.). Or even rest (lower your fatigue level by 2 on your player board). Increase your attack level by 1 (on your player board). And last possible action, exchange his special equipment card with another available one.
We will end the round by drawing an “event” card called Skelit’s Revenge, which will possibly ask you to increase certain dice on the board which represent the level of fire, to add pirate skeleton tokens or to move the tokens forward one room. pirate enemies to the nearest player.
Once this last phase is over, we start again until a condition of victory or defeat is met.
When playing with fire is highly recommended
At first, we were surprised at the thickness of the box which is rather thin. But that does not prevent having “stuff” inside and of a good quality what is more. On the other hand, let’s say it right away, the insert of the box is absolutely useless; transfer it, you will gain space to store everything well. Level of quality of the material, the cards are well made and superbly illustrated. The tiles, solid and also with beautiful illustrations. The wooden meeples are also very cool with a pirate shape as well as the skeleton tokens in the shape of a skull… really very cool. The player board, including a self-assembly disc, is also well produced and the yellow and red dice which will act as a fire level in the parts of the boat are also very good.
We enjoyed the illustrations as a whole, which fits the theme perfectly. The material also has very little text. We won’t go so far as to say that the game is an “independent language”, but almost! The powers of player cards and equipment cards are the only elements in the game that have text, but it is still very light. Which is quite nice because the game is only available (at the moment) in English. For our friends who only speak the language of Molière, it will not be a huge difficulty to understand the game and get started in a game of Dead Men Tell no Tales. All it takes is one person from the fun-loving group to learn the basic rules.
This brings us to talk about the rules which do not shine on the layout. Indeed, even if the rules are rather well written and understandable, the layout is in our opinion a real problem. Everything is too condensed to fit on 8 pages, with very useful images, but the lack of space and “airy” area weighs down the reading and it feels like you have a mini-essay to read! A small lexicon at the end of the rulebook would also have been appreciated. Hopefully a version 2.0 of the rules can one day be offered to players.
On the other hand, the theme remains particularly catchy and the gameplay in total adequacy! The pressure builds as the game progresses and it becomes more and more difficult to manage. Fire, skeletons, enemies, treasures, etc. Pfiouuu! A crescendo rise in power that will make the game very immersive and exciting. Not to mention the fatigue that will be the engine, not to say the lungs, of your character. Know that on your player board, you will have a fatigue gauge which will increase depending on your movements and especially the level of the flames of the room or rooms you are crossing! And yes, a room on fire is not easy, quite the contrary. So it will be up to you to make sure to manage the level of the flames (by lowering the level of the fire die for an action) and to tire yourself as little as possible. If you reach the limit of your fatigue,… you will die!
Skeleton tokens are also a difficult setting to manage. Besides the fact that you can lose the game if you run out of skeleton tokens, depending on the number of skeleton tokens in a room, this will also influence your actions or movements. You will therefore have to pay attention to the number of skeleton tokens present on the board.
Getting started is very easy and quick. This allows you to quickly get to the heart of the matter and enjoy the game from its first part. One game turn is enough to understand how Dead Men Tell no Tales unfolds, but it will likely take you several parts to complete your mission, depending on the difficulty you choose. You have been warned!
The game turn remains relatively quick, but the choices will be difficult to make and are numerous. We will have to be able to think in the medium term to be able to get by and help each other. It’s necessary. To facilitate the search of the boat, as well as to manage the fights to be carried out on the possible enemies present on the boat. All this makes non-active players still concerned with the active player’s turn. There is no such thing as downtime with Dead Men Tell no Tales, but death lurks all the time! That’s for sure.
What is also interesting concerns the replayability which will be limitless. Indeed, at each part the boat will be discovered with a different configuration. Treasure tokens are also drawn randomly from a bag provided by the game, so this will also change between games. Not to mention that each pirate that will be played has a skill of its own, which will also change the game experience depending on the selected pirate (s).
Whether it is two players or five players, you are going to live the same adventure, without it being potentially more difficult or easier. There are variations that we can still apply (without it being officially written in the rules), such as taking 2 pirates each player, for a 2 player game. Or also take 2 pirates to play a single player game! We repeat once again, it is not proposed by the rules, but we were able to give it a try and it works very well. Despite everything, it’s always funnier to play together to have interaction.
In summary, the game is really a very good surprise, it is certainly not perfect in all aspects (especially the rules), but has real potential and offers a very good fun experience that will delight people who appreciate the challenge and the game. cooperation. The – relative – small format is also very pleasant, for a game which offers a lot of material. Simple, efficient equipment that contributes to the quality of this game and its replayability. A real highlight! We appreciated the adjustable difficulty which allows the most sensitive not to feel frustrated after a few games without success.
And as a highlight, also know that an extension is available. But it may be for a next occasion, just to talk to you about it again.
Now it’s up to you to form your own opinion.
The rules of the game in French
Dead Men Tell no Tales on Board Game Geek
The website of the publisher Minion Games