Walk the Plank! Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up
  • For 3 to 5 players
  • Approximately 20 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Give orders to your incompetent pirate crew!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek mixed!

Overview

Pirates are brave, laugh at danger, and above all else, follow instructions no matter how insane they sound. The Captain has gathered you on deck. In a loud voice, he explains that he has one too many pirate crew members and is looking to downsize. And by “downsize”, he means toss those pirate he doesn’t think too highly of into the ocean. Time to test your pirate skills and luck!

Walk the Plank!, designed by Shane SteelyJared Tinney, and published by Mayday Games, is comprised of 1 Ship tile, 3 Plank tiles, 1 Davy Jones Locker tile, 1 Captain’s Favor token, 15 Pirate meeples (3 each in the colors yellow, orange, red, blue, and what is best described as sea-foam green), and 50 cards (10 per player). The tiles and token are made of solid cardboard, the meeples are made of wood, and the cards are made of thick cardstock. Excellent quality and very durable.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, first place the Ship and Plank tiles in a row with the 3 Plank tiles to the right or to the left of the Ship tile. Place the Davy Jones Locker tile at the end of the Plank tiles and opposite of the Ship tile.

Second, have each player select a Pirate meeple color and place all 3 Pirate meeples on the Ship tile. Any Pirate meeples note selected are returned to the game box.

Third, hand to each player 10 cards that match their Pirate meeple color. The backs of each of the cards will be one of five different colors and correspond to the Pirate meeple colors (sort of – nothing goes well with sea-foam green). Any cards note selected are returned to the game box.

That’s it for game set up. Determine who the first player is and give them the Captain’s Favor token.

A Merry Little Pirate Jig

Walk the Plank! is played in rounds with no set number of rounds per game. A single game round is summarized here.

Step 1: Select and Play 3 Cards

All the players look through their hand of available cards and place 3 face-down. The order in which the cards will be revealed are from left to right from the perspective of the player who is placing them. Players should place their cards in such a way that helps their Pirate meeples survive. Timing is everything in this game, so players should take a moment to consider what cards they want to play and how their card choices will change all the Pirate meeple positions.

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Example of some of the cards in the game: Hulk Fist for the WIN!!!!!

A summary of what the cards do is provided here:

  • Shove the Pirate meeples of your opponent to your left or your right one tile
  • Shove any Pirate meeple left or right
  • Extend and retract the Plank tiles
  • Force another Pirate meeple to move with one of your Pirate meeples
  • Move a Pirate meeple back towards the ship

Suffice to say, each card moves one or more Pirate meeple towards safety or certain death, but only if certain conditions exists. Since the goal is to keep your Pirate meeples alive and toss your opponent’s Pirate meeples into the leviathan that hungrily awaits at the end of the Plank tiles, knowing when to move and who to move is very important.

Step 2: Reveal Cards

Starting with the player who currently has the Captain’s Favor token and continuing in clockwise order, each player will reveal their first (left most) card and take the action the card shows. Once the player completes the action, the next player reveals their card. This continues until the turn order sequence returns to the player who has the Captain’s Favor token. Now the second card is revealed and game play continues as before in clockwise order. Finally, when the turn order sequence returns to the player who has the Captain’s Favor token for the third time, the third card is revealed and all actions are taken by the players per the card selected by them.

Note that a player must ALWAYS take an action with their revealed card if at all possible. This means that a player could unwittingly dunk their own Pirate meeple into the great blue sea!

Step 3: Clean Up

All the players collect the cards they played and return them to their hand EXCEPT for those cards that have a skull and crossbones icon. These cards must be placed to the side and cannot be returned to the player’s hand until the end of the next round. If cards with the skull and crossbones icon were set aside during the last round, they return to the player’s hand at this time.

The Captains’ Favor token is then passed to the next player going COUNTER CLOCKWISE who is still in the game. The next round now begins.

Winning the Game

As the game progresses, players will lose their Pirate meeples to the hungry sea monster. When they do, the lost Pirate meeples are placed on the Davy Jones Locker tile. As long as a player has at least 1 Pirate meeple that is still dry, they are in the game. Once the player looses all 3 of their Pirate meeples, that have to sit the rest of the game out.

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*Chomp* *Chomp* *Chomp*

The endgame is triggered when 2 or fewer Pirate meeples are left or only Pirate meeples of one player remain. A final round is then played. Any players who still have Pirate meeples after the last round share victory.

To learn more about Walk the Plank!, visit the game’s web page.

Prediction

Simple card games always do well with the Child Geeks, but I don’t think Walk the Plank! is all that simple. Players have to think up to 3 moves ahead before they play their cards and must consider what cards their opponents will play, as well. This forces the player to think both defensively and offensively, while simultaneously considering how they will be act and react in future turns. Because of this, I think Walk the Plank! will appeal to the Parent Geeks due to its casual game play and to the Gamer Geeks who will most likely enjoy the game as a filler between more complex games. But it’s the subtle complexity of the game itself that makes me wonder how the Child Geeks will receive it.

Teaching Walk the Plank! is best done by setting up the Ship, Planks, and Davy Jones Locker tiles and a few Pirate meeples. Then I suggest you show how each card works. It’s VERY IMPORTANT that players understand how the cards move Pirate meeples, shoving them left and right. A slight miscalculation can do incredible damage to a player’s turn. Reduce heartaches and headaches by ensuring that all the players understand what the card actions are. Note that the game does require the player to ready, and the game’s level of complexity and thinking 3 moves ahead might be a bit too much for the younger Child Geeks. As always, include your younger players by making them team members. They’ll enjoy the game and the ability to help you win!

After teaching Walk the Plank! to my oldest little geek, I asked him about his thoughts on the game so far.

“Sounds interesting. Reminds me of Robo Rally a bit.” ~ Liam (age 9)

I agree. Players have to think ahead and plan their card plays by visualizing how the round might play out. Let’s get to the game and see if it’s a great time or we are taking a long walk off a short plank.

Final Word

The Child Geeks enjoyed the game until the Plank tiles were being removed and they felt like they were being picked on by the other players. They weren’t, of course, but I can see why they thought so. A player could unwittingly have their Pirate meeples in a position where they are being pushed around a lot. Attempting to target a specific player in the game is not reasonable or possible at times. You simply must survive, but at the cost of all the other players losing their Pirates. This creates a very cutthroat environment that some of our Child Geeks didn’t care for. According to one Child Geek, “I feel like I’m being bullied by all these pushy pirates!” But not all the Child Geeks felt that way. The older and more experienced Child Geeks understood how the game was played and did very well. They held their own, pushed others, and rejoiced when they pulled planks out from underneath their parents. When the votes were tallied, the Child Geeks gave Walk the Plank! a mixed level of endorsement.

The Parent Geeks all enjoyed the game. Even the non-gamers liked how the game was played. According to one non-gamer, “This game is a bit hard to understand at first, but I can visually tell what I need to do with my pirates at all times.” Of course, knowing what you need to do and being able to do it are two very different things. A number of the Parent Geeks became frustrated when they were held hostage by their own cards. According to one such Parent Geek, “I am greatly irritated that I am shoving my own pirates into the water, but highly amused when others have to do the same.” Yes, it can be frustrating, but also fun. When the votes game in, all the Parent Geeks thought Walk the Plank! was a game worth their and their family’s time.

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I pause the game for a moment to take a picture – the tension in the air was palatable!

The Gamer Geeks found Walk the Plank! to be fun, chaotic, and a great filler between longer and more complex games. They especially enjoyed the “programming” turn aspect which continues to be a game mechanism widely enjoyed by all who have used it. One aspect of the game that the Gamer Geeks are getting pretty tired of is the Pirate theme in general. “According to one Gamer Geek, “I’ve had it with pirates. They are over played and overused. Game designers need to start using other themes.” Be that as it may, the Gamer Geeks all agreed on two important things. First, the game was fun to play and would serve as an excellent game filler. Second, the replay value of the game was limited. If played only once in a while, the Gamer Geeks didn’t think it would be a problem, but it would get old fast if the game was played 3 or more times in a row. One Gamer Geek stated, “This game is fun, light, and perfect for playing once a month. Tops.” All the Gamer Geeks voted to approve Walk the Plank!, finding no real issues with the game play.

Pirate games are getting a bit stale, but they always seem to appeal to one or more of our groups. I always encourage my group members to evaluate the game based on their personal experience with it and not based on other games like it. Gamer Geeks are notorious for basing a game’s value off the many, many other games they have played in the past. That’s not fair to the game, frankly. That’s like saying all Word games after Scrabble are somehow less important because Scrabble did it first. That’s absurd. There is more than enough room across all the gaming table around the world to fit games that have slight variations on themes and game play. No one game is perfect and there is a game for every player.

Walk the Plank! is a fun and light Pirate themed game. There is enough depth of game play to keep Gamer Geeks mildly amused, but its a game easy enough to teach to Child Geeks and non-gamers without too much difficulty. I’ve heard some say that Walk the Plank! is a “gateway game”, and I cannot disagree. There’s more to this game than meets the eye and will challenge players without breaking them. If you enjoy games where you have to think ahead, like a bit of chaos – and of course, pirates – do look into playing Walk the Plank! when the opportunity presents itself.

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.

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 and wife 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 CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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