Rum and Bones Review (Video to follow soon)
Good morning class! Welcome to Mr. Markley’s gradebook, where I grade anything that finds its way onto my desk.
Around 2 months ago I stumbled into NOVA open and ran across the table for “Cool Mini or Not”, one of the bigger miniature making board game companies on the market right now. It was there that I fell in love with Rum and Bones, and after 2 months of play I think I’m ready to give it a grade.
Rum and Bones describes itself as a board game MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), akin to League of Legends or SMITE. Set in a pirate universe where immortality is as simple as holding a magic coin (Ala Pirates of the Caribbean but with slightly different results), the game focuses on players controlling shipboard officers who try and turn the tide as simple minded Bosons and Deckhands smash feebly against each other on the gangplanks of two ships. I was able to sit down with lead game designer Michael Shinall and get a few words in about the game. He emphasized that the aim of the game was the recreate the feelings of a pirate movie, that the deckhands and bosons don’t really do anything in a movie until the hero rushes onto the scene. Michael also brought up the future possibilities of multiple crews, new ships, and more dynamic missions in the coming months.
Aesthetics: B. It’s hard not to love the way this game looks. Some of the figures ooze personality, and their personal blurbs in the rulebook only serve to draw you further in to this swashbuckling adventure. The boards took a few weeks of play to flatten out, which was one of my lead complaints, but the tokens and cardboard components are all sturdy and beautifully designed. The miniatures, of which there are many, fit within the two crews: The Human "Wellsport Brotherhood" and the Skeleton "Bone Devils". My other complaint about the miniatures is on the lack of personality for the Human crew. The skeletons are all, for lack of a better word, interesting. Every person I played with fought to play on the skeleton crew, and it wasn’t just because the models were cooler. The background for them is more fun, and it was hard not to have fun playing them. While the crewman with the most personality on the Human crew is one of the lowly Deckhands.
Rules: B. The rules are fantastically laid out, and placed in such a way that it is hard to be confused. But it is a complex game. The addition of a sort of “AI” in game, as well as some poorly worded powers, can cause arguments among players for certain powers. There is one card in particular that, rules as written, mean a character can rig to anywhere on the board. But beyond those small complaints the rules are fun, intuitive, and fluid. The game feels constantly moving, or rolling, as a ship on the sea should. My last complaint is one that might be fixed with more advanced players, but I could almost never finish a game in half an hour like the box suggests.
Fun: A. It’s hard to top the fun of this game if you have four players, some snacks, and a good bit of Rum. (Or mead in my case). There are shouts of ARRRR or NOOOO as a character finds himself eaten by the kracken or falling into the sea. Fighting minions is satisfying, and pulling off complex schemes only to be refused by a well-placed “Parrlay” is a rush of emotions. Once you’ve gotten a hang of the rules the game is immensely fun.
Parting thoughts and final grade:
Before I give the final grade I want to say one thing. Don’t give up when the kracken appears. I had my first two games cut short because my opponent saw their forces completely destroyed by the kracken’s appearance and my opponent thought that there was no coming back from that. But the game revolves around your characters respawning, and the tides can be turned even after a disastrous loss of manpower.
In the end I give Rum and Bones a B+, with plenty of room for extra credit in the coming expansions.
You can find Rum and Bones online at http://cmon.com/rum-bones/ for $100