Reversal of Fortune Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 2 to 4 pirates
  • Approximately 30 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Reading
  • Emotional Coping Skills

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Aye, we found us the treasure, but who said anything about sharing it fair and square, lad?


  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!


It was an adventure like no other, to be sure. I think back on it now and wonder how we ever survived the storms, the sea monsters, the starvation, and the mutant cannibal monkey men. Oh, aye, they were a right jolly mess, they were. Ate half our crew, they did, and looked to still be hungry when they were done. But where was I…? Oh, the treasure! We found it, we did! The captain was right – there were mountains of gold and jewels! There was too much for a man to carry and too many baubles to count. It was then that I got me an idea… You see, the captain, he didn’t have the best of eyesight and I, well….I had me some mighty deep pockets, lad. Pockets I could fill with gold!

Reversal of Fortune, by Wastex Games, is comprised of 52 Action cards, 52 Treasure cards, and 2 rule summary cards. The cards are of excellent quality and the illustrations are light and humorous. Despite the game being about nasty, cheating pirates, none of the game shows or has anything that might be considered “questionable”. Other than the fact that the game is about stealing from other pirates, the game is very family friendly.

Getting Organized

To set up the game, first separate the cards into two decks. These will be the Action deck and the Treasure deck. The cards are easy to spot as they have different backs, making this a fast and easy exercise. Shuffle both decks thoroughly.

Second, deal out to each pirate 5 Action cards, face-down. The pirates can look at their own cards, but should not trust any of their opponents whatsoever. Pirates are shifty. Place the remaining deck of Actions cards in the center of the playing area and within easy reach of all the pirates. Place the Treasure deck, face-down, next to it so the Action deck doesn’t get lonely.

Third, play the game! Decide who the first player is and get to it! There’s treasure to steal!

Pirating for Fun and Profit

On a pirate’s turn, they will complete the following steps in sequential order:

Step 1: Play or Discard a Card

From their hand, the pirate will select an Action card and play it to the table. The Action card, as you have probably already guessed, allows the pirate to complete a specific action. The pirate need only complete the action as stated on the card. Once played and the action completed, the card is placed in a discard pile next to the Action deck, face-up. Note that some Action cards will allow the pirate to play more than one Action card on their turn.

Instead of playing  a card and completing its action, the pirate can simply discard a card directly to the discard pile. Note that by doing so, they do not get to take any action this turn. Sometimes it’s best to just sit back and let others make a mess of things. This makes it easier to swoop down and collect the scattered treasure!

Step 2: Draw Cards

After playing an Action card or simply discarding one, the pirate now draws cards from the Action deck  to bring their total card count to “5”. Note that a pirate should never have any more than 5 Action cards in their hand, no matter how much they want 6 or more. Once completed, the pirate’s turn is over and it’s the next pirates turn, going clockwise.

Treasure, Treasure, and More Treasure

Through the use of Action cards, pirates will be able to claim Treasure cards. These are drawn from the Treasure deck or stolen from opponents and should remain face-down at all times. The owning pirate can look at their own collected treasure whenever they like, however. It is perfectly permissible to gloat, but it won’t last long. Treasure has a tendency to switch owners often. That gold coin in your pocket might very well be your opponent’s in a following turn. That’s OK, though, because you can always steal it back.

Action cards will allow a pirate to take a Treasure card from the Treasure deck, steal a Treasure card from another pirate, trade a Treasure (1 card for 1 card, but they need not be equal), peek at another pirate’s treasure pile and then take another action, take a peek at the Treasure deck and then rearrange it, and trade card hands.

Example of a Treasure card (left) and an Action card (right)

Once a pirate collects a total of 35 points worth of Treasure, the game immediately ends and the player is crowned Pirate King or some other nifty title. To adjust the length of the game, reduce the points needed to win.

To learn more about Reversal of Fortune, see the game’s web page.


This is a simple game of quick and dirty pirate interaction. It lacks depth and the only real strategy is to play fast and hope that you are lucky. From a Gamer Geek’s perspective, this game will be, at most, a light filler, and that might be stretching it. For Parent Geeks, non-gamers, and Child Geeks, the game play will be the same, but their level of expectation on what a “game” should be is very different from the Gamer Geeks. Gamer Geeks want depth and range out of their games. Parent and Child Geeks are just looking for a good time at the table where the game might be the center of attention, but is really just the medium in which everyone is interacting for a good time. In other words, I don’t think the parents and little geeks will even take note of the game’s depth and focus more on the fun it provides at the table.

Teaching the game can be summed up as “Play a card, do what it says, or don’t and just discard a card – collect treasure to win.” That’s all I ever said and everyone understood how to play, from Child Geek to venerable hardcore Gamer Geeks. After the heavy games I put in front of these players, the look of relief on their face when I introduced a light game was visible a mile away. It’s always nice to make people smile.

But before we got to stealing and looting treasure, I asked my little geek his thoughts on the game so far.

“A fast and easy pirate game where I get to steal your money and laugh? What’s not to love?” ~ Liam (age 8)

I often wonder what kind of people my little geeks are going to be when they grow up. Some of their biggest influences are ninjas and pirates. But we’ll worry about that later. Now it’s time to play the game! Let’s see if it provides us with entertainment and laughs or if we all feel poorer for playing it.

Final Word

Success! My little geek loved the game! It’s a shame my 5-year-old isn’t old enough to play Reversal of Fortune yet (it requires the pirates to be able to read the cards and do math by themselves), as I know he would love it. He did watch the game, though, and was visibly upset that he couldn’t play along. We invited him to join one of our players to make a team, which he happily did, but I could tell he felt a bit left out. I took him aside later on and told him he would be playing more and more games soon. He liked this, hugged me, and I felt like a million bucks. While the game publishers suggest the minimum age for the game is 10, any little geek who can read and do simple math (count up to 100) will have no problems with this game. The only real hurdle is the emotional cooping that MUST be done when treasure is stolen, and treasure is stolen a lot.

Parent Geeks also had a good time with this game and I was very amused to see adults get frustrated with each other when their opponents stole their treasure. I had to remind one Parent Geek, twice, that this was a game about pirates stealing from one-another. She seemed to have forgotten and started to get a bit testy, stating rather prickly, “why are you taking my points?” The non-gamers also had a good time and were not confused or surprised by the level of card stealing. Regardless if playing the game with family or their peer group, the Parent Geeks had fun, saying the game was light, easy, and an excellent way to be passive aggressive with each other in a perfectly socially appropriate manner.

Gamer Geeks played the game but were not impressed. The game was too light, in their opinion. There was nothing for them to think about other than which card in their hand of 5 cards to play. They were never bored, mind you, as the games didn’t last that long, but it was obvious that they weren’t using much of their brain to begin with. To prove this point, one Gamer Geek just played cards from his hand at random. This seemingly mindless game play left them wanting much, much more and they put Reversal of Fortune away for more demanding games. Still, they didn’t say it was a bad game, just not a game they’d want to play with their peer group.

My 5-year-old little geek helps his mother steal victory points from the competition!

Gamer Geeks, this isn’t much of a game. You play a card and take a card. Rinse. Repeat. Laugh. Swear. It all kind of goes hand in hand, really. It is a terribly light game, but it isn’t a poorly designed one. This is a game that was meant to be played fast and to be a filler. It does it’s job perfectly, but the lack of any meaningful thought that goes into playing the game keeps it from being a Gamer Geek’s game. Despite its pirate themed appeal, we did not observe anything in our test groups to suggest this was a game for you to play with your peer group. With family and non-gamer friends, though, it is sure to be a good time.

Parent Geeks, this is a light game and a quick one, too. You won’t be bogged down by rules or vapor lock, and can put the game away just as fast as you got it out. But we don’t think you will. Based on our observations, you will want to play another game as soon as the first is over. This is because games are devilishly close. Pirates will only win by a few coins, making everyone else who was only a few coins shy of winning very eager for a rematch. Non-gamers had a wonderful time with the game, enjoying every moment of stealing another pirate’s cards and giving anyone the “stinkeye” who stole theirs. The game was found to be an enjoyable experience with both your peer group and family.

Child Geeks, this is a fast-paced pirate game of stealing and sneakiness. Your most difficult challenge in this game will be keeping your cool. You cannot defend yourself against pirate theft, but you can steal cards right back from other pirates. Or don’t. You can also take cards directly from the Treasure deck. Just realize that this is a game about collecting points as fast as you can and not about thinking about ways to be smarter or craftier than your opponents. The winner will be the fastest and luckiest pirate. While you can’t influence the luck in the game, you can just focus on taking as many cards as possible and never slowing down until the game is over. And when it is over, regardless if you win or lose, you’ll still be smiling.

Reversal of Fortune is a fast and easy game. I think it is perfect for quick game needs and for a light filler with friends. It certainly scratches my itch for a quick pirate game and will be suitable for those friends of yours who like to play games, but are not yet comfortable playing the more difficulty ones. Because it is an easy game, you can introduce it to just about everyone and not be weighed down with a lot of questions of how to play. You can get to the pirate action fast and having fun in no time. The end result is a game that can be played anywhere, anytime, with a wide age range of players and mixed skill set. Perfect for casual play with friends and family.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, pirate themed game of card stealing, then drop anchor on Reversal of Fortune and make way for some easy fun.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

Tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....

2 Responses to Reversal of Fortune Game Review

  1. Pingback: Review of Reversal of Fortune « Nightstalker Games

  2. Pingback: Review of Reversal of Fortune « Nightstalker Games

Have an opinion? Like what you read? Thought it was rubbish? Leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.