Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 14: Dead Man’s Draw

Dead Man’s Draw is a fast, fun card game of risk and reward for 2-4 players that can be setup and completed in under 20 minutes. Fantastic little game of strategy and luck. We recommend it.

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Dead Man’s Draw has pirate-themed suits of cards, all with different powers. On your turn, you draw a single card out of the deck and play it onto the table, activate its power, do what it says, then choose whether to draw another card to play. Repeat until you choose to collect your cards instead of drawing another one or until you draw a card of the same suit as one you’ve already played this turn – if that happens, you bust and don’t collect any of the cards you’ve just drawn. Bigger risks may equal bigger rewards or maybe mean all those lovely cards are lost to you.

If each card you got was worth points, one player could take a clear lead. But in this game, it’s only the highest card you have of each suit that counts. Suits go from 2-7 (or 4-9 for Mermaids, which have no other power in the base game).

Each suit’s power is interesting and affects strategy. The Kraken forces you to draw and play two more cards, Swords let you steal a card from another player’s Bank (cards you’ve collected), while the Cannon blows another player’s card right into the discard pile.

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Hooks let you put a card from your Bank into play. Why would you want to do that? Maybe so you can play an Anchor so everything else you’ve drawn can be collected even if you bust. Or maybe the Oracle, so you can look at the next card before deciding whether to play it. Maybe you’ll put in a Key to match up with that Chest you’ve drawn – they only have power together, letting you draw from the discard pile as many cards as you just collected.

Each player also gets a character card with a unique power. In this gameSuz‘s made her Anchors more powerful, protecting all the cards before the Anchor like normal, but also protecting the Anchor and the next two cards she drew after it. Very useful. I had more powerful Cannons, letting me blow a card from Suz’s bank into my bank, instead of into the discard pile like normal.

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On the box art you’ll see this is a special International TableTop Day version of the game. It has an expansion inside giving the Mermaid cards some powers, as well as giving different rules variations. It’s interesting stuff, but we haven’t felt the need for it.

Dead Man’s Draw is a good game, with nice art, easy to learn rules, and strategy deep enough to matter but not intimidating. You can play strategically, or just draw till it feels right to stop. In that way, it’s good for all sorts of players. We recommended it.

And with that, we end our final review of Game A Day Fortnight. Check out my next post for a summary and closing.

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I live in Canberra, Australia. I love games and stories.

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