Halloween is right around the corner! As a board gamer and a parent, this is also the worst time of year to go treasure hunting for rare games at Value Village (a popular Canadian thrift store chain). The other day, I brought my beautiful Beans to to the Village of Value, forgetting that a quarter of the store is currently devoted to costumes and accessories. Skeletons abound, Princess gowns sparkle at every corner, and of course, Pirates and their bountiful booty as far as the eye can see. The Halloween displays are brilliant, but also stressful, as the merchandisers manage to stack the costume racks even higher than normal, which makes a large portion of the store a corn maze if my imaginative offspring manages to wriggle free of my magnetic hands and watchful eye!
Over the last couple of weeks, Big Bean and I have been exploring Bermuda Pirates, which somehow manages to feel a bit like a Halloween trip to my beloved Value Village (minus the fear of losing a child) – complete with pirates, magnetic hands, and of course, treasure hunting. More on that in a bit!
Bermuda Pirates is published by FoxMind, with a design from Jeppe Norsker (best known previously for the criminally underrated Match Madness). The art design does not appear to be credited on the box or in the rulebook. The game can be enjoyed by 2 to 4 players, and should take less than 30 minutes to play. The box recommends it for ages 7+, which we’ll put to the test momentarily!
Players are equipped with a small pirate ship and three buoys, which they will keep in their corner of the board, which is decorated with a matching colour. Tempting us in the center of the board is an island which is home to piles of glistening gems in four colours, with matching flags. Affixed underneath the board are four detachable segments which hide the magnificent magnets that power this game. Those boards can be turned and rotated in different positions, ensuring that players will be unable to memorize the magnetic makeup of the board.
To play the game, players take turns placing one of their fingers at the rear of the ship. Using only that single digit, they must navigate the waters of the board, trying to sail to the treasure island in the middle, If the player reaches of the docks, they may take a gem matching the colour of the flag closest to that dock, and continue sailing either to another dock or back to their corner of the board to make a delivery. However, there is imminent risk at all times! If the ship drifts over one of the hidden magnets, the front of the boat will snap forward, forcing any gems aboard to be scattered in any and all directions. If your ship is capsized in this way, the turn immediately ends, with the vessel being picked up and placed back at your home corner. Gems are left wherever they land, unless that is off of the board. Other players (or maybe yourself, if luck smiles upon you) may pick up these gems by sailing in their direction and touching their boat to the gem of choice. One buoy can be placed (or moved) after an odyssey fails, which marks where you believe a magnet is located, to help with future voyages.
When one player delivers one of each gem to their home base, all other players may take one final turn, and everyone who has a complete set may declare victory! In the PLUNDER VARIANT (a title most deserving of all caps!), the game becomes a race to 8 points, with a complete set of gems being worth 6 points, and each duplicate earning a single point.
Although the gems are a bit too small to trust in the hands of my Little Bean, her older sister and I have had a few opportunities to play Bermuda Pirates together. To clarify, when I say “play Bermuda Pirates”, I basically mean load up the boats with gems, and push them around waiting for the magnetic POP that sends the gems flying. We have been through this exercise well over a hundred times now, and the surprise of the boat springing forward manages to elicit an excited hands-over-the-mouth gasp EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It’s truly mind-boggling how endlessly entertaining this activity is to her! So entertaining, in fact, that she currently has zero interest in learning how to play the actual game. Which is not a bad thing at all – the quality of fun she’s having out of that one game element eclipses many whole game experiences we’ve shared, which is a delight to watch. Our plan is to revisit the game around her 5th birthday, to see if we can extend that excitement to a game-long family experience.
From what we’ve experienced of the game so far, Big Bean is giving Bermuda Pirates TWO LITTLE THUMBS UP!
When I explained the premise of Bermuda Pirates to some of my regular gaming friends, they were skeptical at best. A memory game about navigating hidden magnets didn’t immediately appeal, especially with the kid-friendly art style. However, once we got rolling, everyone found ways to be clever and sneaky with each other. Placing a buoy a millimeter or two off from a magnet’s actual location might bait another player into dumping their gem load in an advantageous position. Daring another player to keep sailing to collect another gem, against their better judgement. And the erupting celebration when someone pulls off an unlikely run to the island and back again! It may not be a title that we bring out often for a game night, but it was absolutely fun for all, and we’ll most definitely be playing it again.
As an adult gaming endeavour, we’re also giving Bermuda Pirates TWO BIG THUMBS UP!
FoxMind has an incredible catalogue of games that will appeal to gamers of any age and experience level, and we believe that Bermuda Pirates fits right in with the best of their family game offerings. If you need your games to have a degree of perfect information available for all players, this may not make it onto your wish list, but don’t turn up your nose if someone else brings it to a meetup. The integration of magnets is unique and fun, plus the dexterity and push-your-luck elements make for an engaging, entertaining experience.
Avoid the stressful thrift shop treasure hunt during these fall months. Play some Bermuda Pirates, where you’re guaranteed to have more fun!