I love games that are quick to learn, relatively short in length, and can play with a lot of players. Dread Curse is every one of those. At 30-45 minutes and up to 8 players, this can be pulled out at the end of a party or family dinner night for a lot of laughs, some frustrated fist-pounding, and a ton of fun. Rotate through a selection of ranked pirate characters, each with its own special cheat abilities, to accumulate as much wealth as you can in your treasure stash. Draw from the pile, steal from your neighbor, your friend, your spouse, your kids…all is fair game as long as you amass the largest fortune! However, get caught with one of the two cursed Black Spots in your stash, and you’re done for.
First, draw your coins as instructed on your character card. Second, steal! Steal from the Captain or from the player to your right or left. And the fun part? You have to steal…as in you can’t not steal. Next, pay the monkey for a card if you want to. Then decide whether you want to cut and run. This means you don’t have a Black Spot and you think you have enough treasure to get you the win once the game is over. At first I was worried this would force people to sit out of the game too much, but not so. It is a very exciting, even nerve-wracking feature of the game (do you stay or do you go?). Lastly, reconvene as a group of scallywags to determine who will be the next captain and to choose your character for the next round.
Some of my favorite pirate cheats include the First Mate’s ability to give a coin to another player (get rid of a Black Spot or a Lead Slug!), the Bosun’s ability to draw a Pirate’s Code card instead of a coin, and the Pilot’s ability to look at two coins then choose one (find out where those Black Spots are!).
All of this is just hitting the surface of the game. With 50 Pirate’s Code cards that allow players to cheat at different phases of the game, there is almost a game within a game. See if you can steal, cheat, and bluff your way to victory! I love how the push-your-luck aspect is at the long-term, entire game level, not just on a turn-by-turn basis. Overall, this is a very fun game with a very high replay value.
Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.