I have said it before, and I will say it again. We are very competitive. We like each other very much, just not when we are playing a board game against each other. Therefore The Last Bottle Of Rum if perfect for us since you can shoot at each other! No really, you can damage each others boat trying to collect the last bottle of rum in the whole Archipelago. This was a game we simply had to try out. Especially since the game looks so bright and has awesome art.
How to Play.
The setup is really easy. Place the Pirate’s Hideout in the center of the table and place all the island tiles facedown around it. Then shuffle the map cards, treasure cards, action cards and bounty cards. If you play with les then 4, reveal three treasure cards with three map cards matched to it. Otherwise, reveal one more. Place the action cards and bounty cards in a pile facedown. Choose a captain and take the matching player board and place the boat meeple in the hideout. Then place the Loot & Curse tracker close by and place one player token on the first loot space and one on the first curse space of each player. Lastly place all the damage tokens in the bag and place it close by. Then all players take four action cards to start with. If you draw a Kraken card, replace it for another action card.
If you play with two players, you can also choose to play with the ghost. Here, instead of having the tiles facedown, reveal all the tiles and place only two pairs of maps and treasure cards during the set up. Also place one doubloon on each tile with a doubloon token. Place the white ghost ship on the skull cave island as a starting place.
On your turn, start with drawing action cards until you have four cards (Captain Humbolt has five because of his trait). Choose two cards from your hand and play them simultaneously. Each card has an action (top half) and an effect (bottom half). You can always play the actions for free, but the effects have a cost which is printed in the bottom of the card. You can play another card for example at the cost of gaining a curse and paying one doubloon, or reveal all adjacent tiles around you for two doubloons for example.
The actions you can choose from the cards in your hand, are sail, gain Doubloons, attack and repair. If you choose to sail, you can move your ship to an adjacent tile and flip the tile faceup if it is not revealed yet. If it has a doubloon token, you gain one doubloon, but if you reveal a reef tile, you gain one damage token and suffer the damage consequences. When you stand on a tile that matches the revealed map card, you may take the matching treasure card if you still have space in your ship. When you take the treasure to the Pirate’s Hideout, you gain loot points for selling it. If your action card has a doubloon token, you gain as many doubloons as the number on the card indicates. If you want to attack, you not only need an attack action on a card, but it will also cost you a doubloon. If you stand on the same tile as your opponent or an adjacent tile, you can attack. But if you have two attack actions, you can also attack one tile further away from your opponent. Roll the dice to see your result. Your opponent takes one damage token from the bag for each skull you roll. Every damage has different consequences that you will have to deal with like limited movement or you can’t attack player anymore for example. To fix this, you will need to repair your ship. You can do this using the repair action. For every repair action, you may return one damage token to the bag. If you have completed your two actions, the turn goes to the next player.
If you are unlucky enough to draw a Kraken card as action card. You immediately have to resolve it effects. Every time you choose to use an effect with a tentacle icon, you advance on the curse track. If you draw a Kraken card or reach the most right space on the curse track, the Kraken will appear and immediately attack the player/ players who has advanced the most on the curse track. Each player involved rolls a die and loses as many loot points and curse points as the dice shows. If you don’t have enough loot points, you take damage tokens instead.
If you draw a weather card, it may have actions on it with lightning icons. For each lighting icon, you can take a free action. In return you have to perform the cards effect, like placing a maelstrom for example. A maelstrom can be placed on any two tiles to create a fast travel action. But it will cost you one damage as this journey is chaotic and dangerous.
When you come across an outpost tile, you may take two bounty cards. Choose one and try to meet all of the conditions in one turn to gain a loot point.
The first player to gain ten loot points, wins the game.
If you play with the ghost (two players only), it will take it’s turn after both players completed their turn. Reveal the top two cards and play them in this order: gain doubloons (when it gains 5, the ghost takes the highest value treasure of each player) – repair the ghost ship – hunt (sail) – attack.
If the ghost starts to hunt, it will move to the location of the most valuable treasure in play, either of a player or on the map. If he reaches his destination (he can’t sail trough the Pirate’s Hideout), it takes the treasure and places it on his ship. The ghost can never use effects of treasure cards. At the end of his turn, if an attack icon was revealed, each player within range will gain one damage. Players may fight the ghost with attack or cards. If the ghost receives his third damage, the player who attacked sinks his ship and gains the last stolen treasure. The ghost will then return to the skull cave island as it is doomed to haunt the archipelago. The goal remains the same. The player who first gains ten loot points, wins the game.
Playthrough of the game.
As we were both chasing a treasure worth four points, the ghost was also closing in on us. I had six loot points and Tomasz seven so I had to get this treasure. Using all the abilities on my cards I was able to damage his ship and get ahead of him, but I had to pay a price of gaining two places on the curse track. What I didn’t see coming was the next card Tomasz drew. The Kraken. As the Kraken only attacks the pirates who have gained the most curses, that meant he attacked my ship. He left my ship so damaged I could only move one tile at the time. Tomasz quickly sailed to the treasure and claimed it, and to make matters worse, he had a card that allowed him to immediately sell the treasure making him the best pirate in the whole Archipelago.
This and various other situations make The Last Bottle of Rum a lot of fun. It’s well balanced, but the normal game can feel a little empty for two players. If you play the mode especially designed for two players with the ghost, it’s a lot better balanced and more fun to play. Although we enjoyed the normal game with two players a lot to. Other then the gameplay, the quality of the components are pretty good and the art is really fun and fitting for this game. Each pirate has it’s own special ability to try out as well and each tile of the sea you explore has different art. We also found that each game you play is very different because even when you have discovered every tile, the location of the treasure varies every time. There is only one thing we are missing in this game. You can have a maximum of four damage on your ship, but if you reach this four damage, there are no consequences. We thought it would maybe even more fun if a ship gets four damage, it would sink and maybe skip a turn and respawn on the pirate hideout. So of course we tried it out, it just adds that little bit of tension to the game. But remember that this is just our house rule, it’s not an official rule in the game.
Last Bottle Of Rum is a fun pirate themed tile exploring game where you have to be the first to get ten loot points all when avoiding the Kraken and possibly other opponents. You can manipulate your environment or your ship/abilities with cards and even attack your opponents to leave their ship damaged, giving you more chance to collect those precious treasures. This game is a lot of fun and is well balanced. The art of the game also fits really well and the components definitely give a finishing touch as they are made of good quality and bright colors. With many tiles to explore and captains to play, each game will be different and a lot of fun.