A Review of Magda: The Solo Card Game

Madga is solitaire only card game that was Kickstarter back in October 2020. It delivered to Kickstarter backers just (well, to me at least) yesterday: March 24, 2021. It promised delivery in July 2021 … yes, it was 1.5 months early! Huzzah to the makers!


As a Kickstarter backer, I also got a little cloth patch (see above). Neato!

The back of the Box

The reason I picked up Magda was because of the art and the theme.  I do like the art and the theme! See above.  It also happens to be a pretty quick game: only 15 minutes (although I have had much shorter games, see later below).


I was a little surprised how small the box was (see above for scale)!  Luckily, the cards are the same size as the box, so the cards are bigger than you expect.



Let’s take a look at this weird little solo card game …



The game is all cards! See above. The cards look really nice and I do like the art. The cards are all easy to read (see below). Unfortunately, they are not linen-finished: this is unfortunate because you handle the cards quite a bit (especially the player cards).

You can see from the cards that the game looks kind of creepy … and it is! You are travelling in space, trying to get home, and the jealous computer Magda is trying to stop you! Overall, the components look really nice: this is why I got the game.



The rulebook is a quad-fold pamphlet. I usually hate pamphlets, but I gave Agroplis a pass on this because it was a nice little rulebook. Unfortunately, the Madga one isn’t nearly as good and it suffers from being a pamphlet.

I will admit the rulebook does a decent job with set-up: I got going right away on that! It was pretty clear how to set-up the game.

The object of the game is explained fairly well, as is the basic gameplay. But this is where a lot of questions start: how can I lay out the travel cards? Do I need one travel card per planet? Can travel cards cascade? Do I have to put them out a certain way? There is some more discussion in the “gameplay tips and notes”, but I feel like that should be covered HERE IN THE RULES (not tips).

Above, you can see the discussion of how Magda plays.

I should give props to this pamphlet: the text is big enough to read, it uses colors well to emphasize points, and it shows necessary pictures. And you can get going with it. Like I said, I was up and playing the game pretty quickly.

So, the graphic design is good and its fairly readable, BUT the rulebook just doesn’t cover any edge conditions or anything beyond the most basic questions of ruleplay! I had some questions about gameplay:

  • Do you have to fulfill a mission ONLY off the arrows from that part of the manifest card?
  • What does the topology of the travel? 
  • Why are there so many travel cards?
  • Does the planet matter?

I made it through and was able to play a few games, but I had to guess on a few of these things.

The rulebook was okay: the design and readability were good, but it didn’t discuss some basic questions I had: some rules seemed to be missing.



Initial set-up is real easy! You set up three queues of cards (for good or “pilot” cards), a deck of Magda cards (or “Bad News” cards), your ship (with a stern and bow), and your initial Manifest which describes the three missions you must complete to win.   It looks pretty nice: see above.


The manifest (see above) is the most important card in the game: it tells you what your 3 missions are! In order to win, you must complete all 3 missions and then go home (playing the HOME card to the middle). Each mission is made up of a planet, mission, and asset. If you can place all three together (as described on the manifest), you have completed a missions! The planets, missions, and assets all come from the Pilot deck or one of your three queues.

Whenever you play a planet, mission, or asset down, you have to play a Magda card and see what her reaction is. She’s the bad guy: her cards are the “Bad News” cards: see below.




To play, you cycle through your Pilot deck, either placing a card on the board or in one of your three queues (see above). You can always choose to play the top card of a queue instead of the top card of your Pilot deck. Usually when you play to the board, a Magda card comes out, so you don’t want to do that unless you have to! You get cards into your queues hope for the cards you want.

The game moves quickly and is usually over within 15 minutes.


First off, I love the art style. The Mission, Planet, and Asset cards (see above) remind me of the covers of old-style Sci-Fi paperback novels. And the art is very evocative! The art of the Magda cards (or “Bad News”) is just creepy!

The rulebook could be better, but it at least does a good job explaining basic gameplay. You can muddle through the edge conditions and play.


Unfortunately, the game is pretty random. Take a look at the card above: if you just happen to play this as your last card, you lose!!!! It doesn’t matter what you did the rest of the game. And, unfortunately, a lot of the Magda bad news cards are just as unforgiving:


In my first game, I lost because I had the therapist out and the “She Messed With My Head” came out. I just lost! It was very unsatisfying.

The amount of randomness in this game might drive you a little crazy. Sometimes it’s just no fun, as all you can is play cards, and there aren’t a lot of ways to mitigate the Magda cards: You can get one of the 4 good cards in play, and you can “cap” mission-triads to make sure Madga can’t affect them. But that’s kind of it: you don’t “really” have a lot of choices in the game.

After my first few plays, I was almost done with the game! It was too random! Not enough choice, and not enough ways to mitigate the Magda cards. I was almost ready to be done and give this game a 3.

However, read on.

Strategy … of a Kind


See above for a winning game. Was this all luck? No, but there are two things working in your favor:

  1. There is no penalty for going through all your Pilot cards!  Once you do that, you simply take all three queues back up, shuffle them, and start another 3 queues!  WHAT THIS MEANS: if you want a card, simply keep cycling through the deck until you find it.  In other words, there’s almost no reason for the three queues, you can find the 3 cards you want (Mission, Planet, Asset) by just cycling through the deck.   
  2. You can figure out what card is on the bottom of the deck when you cycle!  As you cycle through your deck, you can figure out (by process of elimination) what the very last card is.  WHAT THIS MEANS:  When you need to cap a deck to keep Magda from ruining a Mission/Planet/Asset triad, you can predict what the card is!  When you uncap to try to win the game, you WANT to play the cap card, otherwise you have to play 2 Magda cards!  To avoid that, you can simply force the cap card to be what you want (by cycling through the deck a few times)!

With those two realizations, you can play a winning game and at least mitigate a lot of randomness.  In fact, the very first thing you should do is cycle through the deck and get all 4 “good” cards out:

Basically, you can either spend your first turn “cycling though the deck” to find the 4 cards … or just put them out at the start of the game. Remember, this works because Magda doesn’t play any bad news cards until you play something (Planet/Mission/Asset) to the middle .. . you can cycle your deck infinite times looking for the cards you want without repercussions.

Once you put all this together, the game is a little more playable, but it’s more work as you “cycle” cards. By getting the 4 Good cards out, you can decide when to use them, you can decide when to cap and what to cap with, you can decide which missions to go after. When Magda deals you some randomness, at least you have some choice.

It sort of reminds me of variants of Solitare when you cycle through your draw pile … “I know there was a Queen in there…”


This game is just okay at best. Using the observations from the section above, you can do some things to mitigate the randomness of the game. Unfortunately, there’s still quite a bit of randomness, and it can be infuriating. I will say that I do like the art, and Magda has the advantage that the game is simple and short. A lot of people don’t care if a game is too random as long as it is short: I am not one of those people, but you may be! Is that’s the case, maybe Magda will be for you.

I could see playing Magda to pass some time.

To be clear, Magda is a game and it is playable and I would play it again. Compare this The Umbrella Academy which is unplayable and I never want to see it again. But, if you are looking for a fun, thematic, small solo card game, either take a look at our review of The Dead Eye or one of our Top 10 “Small” Cooperative Games for better recommendations.

Cooperative Exploration: A New Way To Learn Games?

Beyond the Sun, Rio Grande Games, 2020 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)
My friend and I wanted to learn a new board game the other night. Spoiler Alert (see above): It was Beyond The Sun. The guys at Shut-Up & Sit Down recommended this in one of their silly videos, so I wanted to check it out.

There seem to be three standard ways to learn a game:

  1. Read the Rulebook.  For me, this is the method I use 99%  of the time
  2. Watch a Video: You-Tube has tons of people showing “how to play a game”.  It’s not usually my preferred way, but a lot of people like to watch videos about how to play. 
  3. Have Someone Teach You The Game.  This is probably the easiest way, as someone learns the game and teaches everybody else.  (Historically, this has been in person, but I’ve recently been taught some games over Discord/Zoom)

My friend Junkerman and I had … other ideas.

Board Game Arena


I called my friend Junkerman last Tuesday.

“Hey, you wanna play Beyond The Sun?  It’s now online at Board Game Arena.”  (See Screen shot above)
“Sure.  Meet you there in a few.”

After floundering around and logging into Board Game Arena, we also got on Discord so we could chat while we played.

“So, do you know how to play?”
“Nope, do you?”
… silence …
“Let’s try it anyways!”

So, we read some really crappy minimal rules on  the site (there were videos and PDFs of the game, but we chose to eschew them) to get an idea of the game.  We still had no idea what we were doing.

“Let just start clicking and see what happens!”

Let’s Just Click On Things!

D E N N I S K . C H A N

Here’s the thing, Board Game Arena enforces the rules of the game strictly. So, it’s not a “free-form” scenario like TableTop Simulator can be. If you can “click” on something on Board Game Arena, this means it’s a LEGAL click, so you can do it! With Board Game Arena only letting us click on things “legally”, we just starting clicking.

Hilariously, it took us 10 minutes (I am not exaggerating) to start our first turn! (Hint, the basic actions are in the middle of the screen and really tiny. Ya, that’s our excuse). We just started clicking and hovering over things … Board Game Arena does a “really nice” job with showing rules when you hover over game pieces.

So, over the course of two hours, we tried to click on things, we hovered over things, we just explored! Our goal was NOT to win, but to figure out the game together!!

“Hey Joe, why don’t you attack me and see what happens!”
“Oh ya, I should attack you. I wonder what happens to my ships if I fail?”
“I dunno? Let’s find out!”

“COOL! The leftover pieces go the the black hole! Cool!

I think the funniest moment was when we realized “the grey blobs” on the cards (that we turned over) were UPGRADED spaces!

Post Lockdown Playing Priorities! | Board Games | Zatu Games UK

“See the grey blob next to PSIONICS RESEARCH (see above)?”
“I think we can go there!”
“Really? Those grey blobs weren’t decoration?”
“I think they are new actions we can do!!!”
“Boy, are we dumb.  We could have been doing those new actions for the past hour!”

After about 2 hours of screwing around, we had an idea of the game! We had to be patient with each other: “What do you think this does?” “I dunno.” We had to click on things and just randomly try stuff. Board Game Arena was our teacher and our enforcer: we could only do things it would let us!

Cooperative Exploration


So, I came up with the phrase Cooperative Exploration to try to describe how Junkerman and I learned the game. Basically, because it sounds a whole lot better than “we just clicked around and saw what we could do”. Honestly, this as the funnest I’ve had learning a game in a LONG time! It was fun to laugh at each other: “What are you doing? I dunno?” “What’s that leaf thing? I dunno? Oh! I see it!” It was fun to just explore the screen and hover. It felt like Junkerman and myself embarked on an expedition to explore and fool around in this online world of Beyond The Sun. What works? What doesn’t? What does this do? It was a blast: a cooperative adventure exploring the world of Beyond The Sun.

We joked that we should have live-streamed our adventure: we were pretty stupid at times, and we thought other people might enjoy laughing at us because we were laughing at ourselves! I’ll be honest: I felt a little like a little kid again. I didn’t care if I won, I just wanted to figure out “this world” we were in! It was a freeing experience NOT being shackled to a rulebook! We just let Board Game Arena be out teacher and enforcer.

Precedence In Deep Learning 


As crazy as it sounds, there is some precedence for Machine Learning techniques using exactly this same idea: “Just try clicking stuff”.  This paper out of Carnegie Melon shows how an AI learned how to play DOOM using only the raw pixels on the screen.  The AI was trained by letting it “try stuff” and using the pixels on the screen as results to guide further exploration.  The AI plays thousands of games, keeping track of results of “try stuff and see what happens” in the pixels of the output.

It’s the same idea as our Cooperative Exploration, except that the AI tries stuff over many many many games to train itself. I suspect if Junkerman and I tried stuff over a million games, we’d be as good as the AI too …


Beyond the Sun set up for 2

I realize that Cooperative Exploration is probably a bit snobby of a term, but it captures (for us anyways) a new way to try to learn board and card games.  If someone put the physical board game Beyond the Sun in front of me, I think I know enough to play it from my Cooperative Exploration with Junkerman. 

I seriously recommend trying the Cooperative Exploration idea out with a close friend: it’s a hilarious, fun, and freeing way to learn a new board game.  I wouldn’t recommend this idea too many people, though.  You want someone you can laugh with and at!  You need to be patient with each other!  You will be making mistakes and you have to be with someone you feel comfortable making DUMB mistakes with! (Seriously, it took 10 minutes for us to find something in we could click on at the start of the game.  Boy, did we feel DUMB!).  You will also be laughing at yourself, so have a sense of humor!  

This was one of the funnest adventures I’ve been on a while.  

A Review of Agropolis

Agropolis was a cooperative game on Kickstarter back in October 2020. It delivered to me about 2 weeks ago (early May 2021). It had promised delivery Feb. 2021 and delivered in May 2021. That’s still pretty good for a Kickstarter.


Agropolis is a little 18-card game about building a rural town. It’s considered a micro game and both the expansions (Combopolis and Invasion) add another 8 or so cards altogether. The entire game and both expansions fit in a little plastic wallet (see above). Notice the soda can above (used for scale) to compare sizes! (You can also see how small the little envelope was that delivered the game!)

I picked up Agropolis because I really liked Sprawlopolis! Sprawlopolis is another tiny 18-card cooperative game about building a city (instead of the rural area of Agropolis). Sprawlopolis made both our Top 10 “Small” Cooperative Board and Card Games and our Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2019. Will Agropolis live up to the promise of its brethren?

Components and Rulebook

The game’s components are … a plastic wallet and 18 cards (and the 2 expansions which add another 10 or cards) and a rulebook.


And … that’s it for components. You’ll notice the 18 cards have 2 very different sides: one side has a scoring condition (see 3 of them below):

And the other side has a 2×2 town grid (a “block”, see instructions) which consists of a cornfield (yellow), orchard (red), vineyard (purple) and livestock (brown).

You start the game with 3 scoring conditions/cards. Your jobs is then to build a rural town using the remaining 15 of the “block” cards. See below for a completed town. Note that the cards can only be placed horizontally (“long” ways): either of two long orientations is fine, you just can’t turn them vertical.

There are a couple of other placement rules (see below), but they are pretty simple. The rulebook pamphlet does a very nice job of describing the placement rules and then showing a good example on a teeny tiny page. Other rulebooks could learn a thing or two from this rulebook. It’s tiny, and yet it manages to convey gameplay and edge conditions very well!


Most of the rules for scoring are on the cards themselves, but there are a few other scoring conditions: See the relevant section from the rulebook below:


  1. You lose 1 point for every “road” in your town: connected roads across cards only count as one road.  In the back of your mind, you are always trying to keep the number of roads down, but it’s not an overwhelming concern
  2. You get 1 point per block in your largest group of each zone type.

Usually when you are playing, the 3 main scoring cards tend to exert the most influence on your thinking, but the roads and largest group scoring rules are always in the back of your head.

For such a small game and even smaller rulebook, these components are great and easy to read. The rulebook is amazingly good considering how small it is! Other bigger rulebooks could learn a lot from this tiny pamphlet! I usually hate pamphlets as rulebooks, but this one does such a good job, I didn’t mind.


Set-up is easy: see the rulebook above and a sample solo set-up below.

How To Win

The win condition in Agropolis is a little wonky: it’s a “beat a score” condition.   From the three scoring cards you choose at the start of the game (see above), you add up the values in the upper left corner of scoring cards.  In the example above, you have 14 + 11 + 9 = 34.  In order to win, your  score at the end of the game MUST EQUAL OR EXCEED THAT VALUE.

Solo Mode

The solo mode is well described in the rulebook.


Like we’ve said so many times before, it’s so much easier to teach your friends a game if there’s a solo mode to learn first (Saunders’ Law). In this case, the solo player takes three block cards (see below) at the start of the game (seeing the next block card coming out).


The solo player chooses a card to play, puts it in the grid (using placement rules we discussed earlier), then gets the next card on top of the deck. The game continues until all 15 cards are played (see below)! Then scoring happens: if you “beat the score” (which we described above), you win! Otherwise, you lose!

In the base game for multiple players, these three cards are “passed around” to the next player: the current player always should have three cards and other players should always have one card.

To be honest, the solo mode is easier to describe and play than the cooperative mode! I’d almost be willing to say this is better as solo game. It almost feels like the game started as a solo game and they “added” a cooperative mode which is just a minor extension of the solo game (like we did for a cooperative mode with Canvas).


One of the expansions that came with my Agropolis Kickstarter was Combopolis: With just a few cards (6?), it’s a way to combine the original game Sprawlopolis and Agropolis ! If you have both games, you get kind of a weird game that combines the two!


The rules are pretty simple:


You take 1 Agropolis Scoring Condition, 1 Sprawlopolis Scoring Card, and 1 Combopolis (from the 6 card expansion) Scoring Condition and then the rest of the cards from the two decks.


Note that the starting card is from Combopolis has both Sprawlopolis and Agropolis areas on it!!! (Card in the middle).

As you play, you get to choose a card from EITHER deck to play! So, you get to choose which deck you are playing from. The game continues until BOTH decks run out.

And then you score! You can only score 4 “biggest block” types (as there are 8 now between Sprawlopolis and Agropolis), but otherwise scoring and winning is just the same!

I enjoyed this mode: it makes the game twice as long, but I enjoyed combining the two games. I almost think I enjoyed it more that the base games! It really does add new life to your Agropolis and Sprawlopolis!


Are there any real differences between Sprawlopolis and Agropolis?  Not really?  They are essentially the same game except one set of rules: the livestock spaces! 

  1. The livestock spaces can either have ONE pen or TWO pens: See belowIMG_7029
  2. The livestock can be pigs, chicken or cows (and that can make a difference in scoring): see below.IMG_7034
  3. There’s a built-in “expansion” that builds on the livestock rules called “Feed Fees” (see below)

Overall, Agropolis gameplay felt like Sprawlopolis gameplay, with the livestock spaces and scoring being a “nice” variant.  



If you like Sprawlopolis, you will like Agropolis! It’s basically the same game (modulo the livestock changes)! You get to build a little rural town and make lots of interesting decisions as you play. Every game is very different because of the scoring conditions: you get 3 very different combinations of scoring every time you play, and that really changes how the game flows. Agropolis is a fun little cooperative game with lots of gameplay, but I think it works better as a solo game than as a proper cooperative game. But, it’s still good as a cooperative game.

Do you need both Sprawlopolis and Agropolis? Probably not. The games are so similar, it’s not really a necessity. If you have one, you probably don’t need the other unless you really loooove the game! I will say that the Combopolis expansion which combines the two might be my favorite way of playing the games together.

If you don’t have either Sprawlopolis or Agropolis, and a little building game sounds like fun, you should pick one of them up! They are both super cheap ($10?), super easy to carry around, and super easy to teach. I would say, choose the theme that appeals to you! “Build a city? Choose Sprawlopolis! Build a rural town? Choose Agropolis!” Honestly, the theme isn’t that deep and you won’t go wrong choosing either one.

Top 10 Swashbuckling Cooperative Board and Card Games!

In our last blog entry, we lamented the lack of cooperative Three Musketeers board and card games. After thinking about it for a while, we DID realize that there are a number of cooperative games in the Swashbuckling genre!! Swordplay! Adventure! Treasure! Pirates! Musketeers! Here’s a list of 10 really fun cooperative board and cards that are of a “swashbuckling” nature!

Honorable Mention

19: The Secret of Monkey Island – Death By Troggles

So ….. The Secret of Monkey Island is not even a board or card game, it’s a point-and-click adventure game for many platforms. We talk about it on this blog a bit, because it was one of the greatest adventure games of all time! Swordplay! Pirate ships! Treasure! Puzzles! You could play it cooperatively with your friends (as a shared adventure). Even though it had a short-lived resurgence when it was reissued a number of years ago, it’s a little harder to get a hold of. Right now, I think GOG (Good Old Games) is the best way to get it, but I have the PS3 disk, the Amiga Disk, the iPad and iPhone downloads (can’t be updated anymore, see here). It’s a great game that is just ridiculous fun and swashbuckly. I know, it’s not a board or card game, but it’s so great we have to give it a shout-out.

10.  The Pirate Republic


The Pirate Republic is a game from Kickstarter some time ago.  I picked it up a recently from FunAgain games.  It’s one of those games that has  both cooperative and competitive modes.  By default, the cooperative mode has the ability for players to  become traitors (which is very thematic and back-stabby like a pirate game should be), but you can get rid of all the mission cards that turn someone a traitor, so you can  play it as a fully cooperative game. 

3d Game Layout

Some of the ships had broken in our copy, and it was very hard to organize the game.  But, the piratey theme does shine through in the exploration of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.  It feels more like an “older” map game, with resource management (which is why it’s lower on this list), but it’s still very piratey and fun!

9. Dead Men Tell No Tales

Dead Men Tell No Tales was a cooperative game I got on Kickstarter some time ago.  It’s all about cooperatively raiding a burning pirate ship, trying to loot treasure off the ship before it (and the gunpowder) explodes!  It’s not a real-time game, but it does have a certain urgency to the game as you explore and try to keep the fires down.

High quality hand made prototype to show what the game will look like. Doesn't have the dice or wood cubes and the spinner is a crappy plastic one (the real one will be a cardboard one). But you get the idea.

The components and ship are all very thematic, with a “piratey” look and feel.  There’s even a Kraken expansion which ratchet up the adventure!  It’s more of a pick–up-and-deliver game, as you find and move treasure chests off the boat (which is why it’s so low on the list), but it’s a fun and thematic piratey game with “swashbuckly” components and feel (see above).

8. A Tale of Pirates

A Tale of Pirates is a cooperative, real-time adventure where players work together to operate a pirate ship.  It’s very different than most games on this list, as you physically move around timers (see below) to perform activities on the ship.  But, as you can see below, the game has great table presence!


There’s a required app that really makes it easy to jump into and play: it’s very good and taking you through set-up and allowing you to explore the pieces (see below).


This was probably the easiest Swashbuckling game to play and get into.   It’s a real-time game! The app plays music in the background (as it counts down a timer).  You move around your pirate ship, steering, raising sails, loading cannon balls, firing cannons, and fixing broken parts of the ship.  At first, It seems like it’s a little bit more about operating a ship that a swashbuckling adventure, but the music and the app really are quite immersive! And the longer you play, the more items you unlock!  This game starts evolving into a swashbuckling adventure as you discover the story underneath …

7. TIME Stories + Brotherhood of the Coast Expansion

TIME Stories is an adventure game meets escape room game.  In the game, you essentially play “Quantum Leap” where you jump into characters in a storyline and play an adventure.   The TIME Stories games are a framework for many styles of games (including an Asylum, Dragon Tales, Egyption to name a few), and, relevant to us: a Pirate adventure!  

Brotherhood of the Coast is a pirate-themed expansion for TIME Stories. See set-up above!  You cruise around the Caribbean, fighting ships, exploring towns, looking for treasure and pirates!  It’s a fun swashbuckling romp!  Like all TIME Stories games, once you have played through everything, you have seen everything that world has to offer.  We ended up playing about 3 to 3.5 hours to get through everything:  my group concluded that was just about the right length: we had a real nice time exploring this world.

6. Mousquetaires du Roy

We’ve talked about Mousquetaires du Roy quite a bit on our blog.  It’s a cooperative Three Musketeers game from 2010 from Ystari which doesn’t get much love.  It made our More Cooperative Games Off The Beaten Path here.

Presentation at Spiel'10 (Essen)

By default, the game isn’t cooperative, but it does come with cooperative rules (see here: Top 10 Games You Can Play Fully Cooperatively).  It’s all about the cardplay and rolling dice to get through some adventures.  The adventure is a little on rails, but it’s a very fun playing the Musketeers trying to take out Milady (the bad gal).  It’s very swashbuckly and was one of the first games I thought of when I made this list!

5. The Princess Bride Storybook Game

This is a very light cooperative adventure game we reviewed here.   Most importantly for a Swashbuckling list, one of chapters of the storybook is the iconic swordfight between The Man in Black and Enigo Montoya!

Finally, playing En Garde the way it was meant to be played—with figures from The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game.

This is a very light game that traces the plot of the movie.  If you like the movie, you’ll find yourself quoting the movie as you play (“I’m not left-handed either!“) which really helps immerse you into the game.  The game more swashbuckling than you might expect!


4. Battle for Greyport + The Pirates Expansion


This is a bit of a cheat, as the Pirates! is just an expansion for Battle for Greyport.  But we love the cooperative deckbuilder game Battle for Greyport!  We reviewed it way back here, and it’s made our Top 10 Cooperative Deckbuilding Games!

To play this, you really need both the expansion and the base game.  Here’s the thing: you can ALMOST just play with only the expansion to get a true swashbuckling experience!  You need at least one more monster deck from the base game and a few more cards to expand your deck … but that’s about it!! I played my first game with JUST the Pirates! game, and I realized I needed just a few more pieces.  But this is really thematic!  There are new rules for ships!  New locations by the docks!  New rules for fighting Kraken!

I’m very surprised this ended up as high as it did.  The base game plus the Pirates! expansion gave a very thematic Swashbuckling experience!

3. Unlock: The Tonipal’s Treasure

This is a little Unlock game … and it’s my favorite Unlock game of all time!  It’s very thematic and “reeks” of pirate theme, with frequent oblique allusions to the Secret of Monkey Island!   I don’t want to say too much, in fear of giving away too many puzzles, but the very last puzzle of the game is one of my favorite experiences in a Escape Room game … and is very thematic for a Pirate game.

Final progress on a zero star score. But it was fun getting there

… just a reminder, you need an App on your phone/pad to play Tonipal’s Treasure!

2. Forgotten Waters

Forgotten Waters is a game we reviewed (and really liked) here! It also made both of our Top Cooperative Games of 2020 and our Top 10 Storybook/Storytelling Games Forgotten Waters is a simple worker placement game in the guise of a storybook game!  The app that comes with the game has voice acting and music that really makes the game thematic!  

Game Layout

The game has top quality components and tells a thematic, immersive story in a piratey, swashbuckling universe.

1. Gascony’s Legacy


There really wasn’t a question what was going to be the number 1 on this list: We loved Gascony’s Legacy! See our review here! It was a fun cooperative game that tells a story, but has rules for rolling barrels on your enemies! Switching hands during swordplay! Swinging from chandeliers! Dropping chandeliers on your enemies! The game really captures the swashbuckling nature of the The Three Musketeers!