Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"Cartagena" by Venice Connection

(originally published in the Missoulian of Missoula, MT on 04/03/05)

There is something nasty going around.

I’m not talking about J-Lo’s germs (although you never know) or rumors about Brad and Jen. I’m talking about this terrible sickness that’s plaguing homes across America.

Well, thanks to my brother Charlie, the strain struck this household and knocked me and Annie off our feet. If you can believe it, we have been sick for over two weeks.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that we have been on the verge of death for two weeks. On the contrary, this illness has had a particularly odd ebb and flow. It hit Annie hard, waited, then hit me. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it, but Annie and I made sure to take full advantage of the downtime between peak activity.

We read books to each other (whoever was less sick got to read). We watched movies together (whoever was more sick set the volume). And, of course, we played games.

Our most recent gaming expedition led us to Cartagena by Leo Colovini. This game is based on a 1672 pirate escape from the fortress city of Cartagena in northwestern Colombia. Just imagine it: the midnight hour, a long empty corridor, silence blanketing it all, and the getaway boat just around the corner. You get the idea.

How some thirty pirates escaped unnoticed from a major hub in Spain’s South American empire is beyond me. No doubt they had a healthy dose of skill, timing, cunning, and luck. Players of Cartagena will have to possess the same.

Two to five players arrange six tiles to form the game board. Each player is allotted six pirate pieces which are placed at one end of the board; this is the starting point. A boat is placed at the opposite end and serves as the finishing point. The goal in Cartagena is to transport your six pirates through the corridor and onto the boat before any of your opponents can do the same.

Movement is possible with the playing of cards. At the start of the game, each player is dealt six cards. On the cards are pictures of pirate icons (pistol, hat, skull and bones, bottle, key, dagger). These same icons appear on the game board. Match a card to the first unoccupied symbol of the same along the corridor and move a pirate there. However, the only way to draw more cards is to move backward. As my mom would say, it’s tricky-dicky.

Cartagena will mainly appeal to older kids and adults interested in a quiet, strategical struggle. It truly challenges you to think in a different way, and the winner always has something to be proud of.

Annie and I have played Cartagena several times. I’m currently holding the World Championship Title (that’s what I tell her anyway), and only my fever has saved me from an impending rematch. I suppose that I’ll eventually have to accept her challenge, but for these few days, I’m the only captain over these high seas.

Cost: $27.95
Players: 2 to 5
Age: 8 and up
Time to play: 45 to 60 minutes
Rating (1 to 10, 10 being the best): 8
Additional Comments: Great for older players.


Blogger Joe Steadman said...

I can't seem to beat my wife.....

2:36 PM  

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