In this 2 - 4 player, push-your-luck, card game you are plundering for the most loot by drawing cards, and combining their special abilities to gain the highest upper cards that you can without busting your hands. This resonates a hand-management type of game doesn't it? Well, it's not. Rather than putting cards into your hands, you are placing them into a bank in front of you. This is done because everyone needs to see what you have in terms of your highest cards. All of the smallest loot cards, and the mermaid card with a value of 4 in place of the 2 make up the discard pile in the beginning of the game. This pile is shuffled and placed face down at one end of the table. On the other end, all remaining loot cards are shuffled together and placed face down to form the draw pile. Between these two piles is the card path where you draw and flip cards in sequential order and then resolving each of the cards abilities as they are flipped and revealed. This is done during your turn until you decide whether you want to continue drawing cards or stop and take what is in the path. You have to be careful when drawing the loot cards because if you draw two of the same type, this is referred to as busting your hand and all of the cards (depending on what has been played) are then placed into the discard pile and shuffled. It's possible to recoup these lost cards from the discard pile, but it just depends on what you draw and how you decide to play. As each player goes through their turns drawing and playing cards from the draw pile, whenever the last card is drawn the active player finishes out their turn and the game is over. At that point, players add up only the cards in their bank with the highest value. The lower cards are not counted toward their final scores. Whoever has the highest number is the winner.
Taking a closer look at the cards, you can tell the artwork is detailed, but still relatively simple, which is nice. I really like these cards and I feel they provide a good experience for a theme like this. As mentioned above, each of these have their own abilities that you can perform as you flip them over revealing them in the card path. Push-your-luck games rank fairly high for me, I just love the risk involved and the way it's executed in this game really makes it fun. There are actually 10 different card suits in this game, and I meant to include the map card, but accidentally forgot to include it in this picture. There seem to be the right amount of card suits and number of cards for a smaller game like this. Dead Man's Draw can be played in 10 to 15 minutes which makes it a perfect filler game too. As I said, great portability with this one, great artwork, the gameplay is just solid, and the packaging is excellent! If you want to make the game more interesting, it also includes additional trait cards which give more powerful special abilities to each player and remain active throughout the whole game. There's also more cards which provide a pirate party game variant which expands the game for 5 - 8 players if you really want to start including a larger group into the mix. These extra cards really provide more options to either expand the amount of players or just add more variants to the base game. However, not all of the character cards are properly weighted which seems to have been a common complaint of the game. To me, the positives really outweigh the negatives, and if you're looking for a great little filler card game, that carries a tense, push-your-luck feel to it, I would recommend you check this one out.
Dead Man's Draw
Overall Meeple Rating: 7.5/10
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