SNAP Review – Wildtails: A Pirate Legacy
They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Well, sometimes, the best board game is the one you have with you. That’s one of the reasons we are big fans of Button Shy Games. They are always coming up with innovative ways to encapsulate big game mechanics with very small 18-card games.
This time, we are covering an 18-card legacy game, where how you play each time affects future plays!
This is a SNAP review for Wildtails: A Pirate Legacy, by Dustin Dobson and Milan Zivkovic, published by Button Shy Games.
Wildtails is for one or two players, and a session should take about half an hour.
Usually in order to make a game this small you need it to be either really simple, or really clever. Given that this is a Legacy game, you can bet the graphic design is super smart.
The same sets of cards can be Scenes, resources, and Objectives or threats, and it’s really smart how every element of the cards is used, with clear iconography to show what they’re used for.
The Pirate’s Log is the campaign card on one side, and the round tracker on the other. This combines with the big boss for every scenario to create progressively more difficult conditions as the play session goes around.
Your Objective, which you need to trigger four times per character, works the same way.
The graphic design really is brilliant here. And the actual art is no slouch either. It’s cute, effective, and doesn’t take away from any of the other aspects of the cards.
There’s a folded rules pamphlet in the little wallet, but you’ll need to use a smartphone or something else with a web browser to help you set up each chapter/scenario as you play through.
In each scenario, two characters take turns gathering resources and making skill checks to complete those Objectives and defeat the Threat within seven rounds. Basically, this is a boss-battling card game.
Each turn follows the same structure:
First, check the active card and see if the colored icon triggers a Crisis effect, such as adding another captured card under the boss, discarding resources, or making skill checks harder.
Then you get to take an action. You can either gain resources (and then tuck the active card under your character to show which resources you gained), or you can spend resources to gain levels on your Objective card, or you can attack the boss (Threat) to release its captured cards.
Attacking the boss is a type of skill check; but some resources also require skill checks, whether it’s bravery, savvy, or deception. Reveal the next card in the active stack, and add its value to your current skill value. Some characters may also be able to discard resources to temporarily increase a skill, too. If the final result is at least as high as the requirement, you’ve passed!… UNLESS! The revealed card has the same color icon as the previous card. That’s an automatic failure.
A round ends when there are no cards left in the active pile. Shuffle the discard pile, capture another card under the boss, and shift the round tracker on the Pirates Log card, changing up the types of bad stuff that will happen in the next round.
A game lasts for up to seven rounds.
Winning or Losing
So, how do you actually win this game?
You need have both characters achieve four levels on their Objective card, and then successfully attack the boss Threat to win.
Ok, winner – how do you lose?
Well, you could lose by simply failing to win by the end of the seventh round, but you can ALSO lose if the boss captures 5 cards, or if a round ever ends with an empty discard pile.
Win or lose, check your results on the Campaign Book website and find out what to do next.
As you discover the world of New L’Oreans pirates, you’ll add new abilities and restrictions – mostly by adding stickers to a few of the cards. You’ll also get new characters, letting you have more flexibility in how you want to handle new challenges. Finish all nine scenarios to complete the story and get a final score and ranking.
I’m really intrigued with the idea of a Button Shy legacy game. But I wondered how you could possibly do that in 18 cards!
We certainly expected multi-use cards, as we’ve seen in many Button Shy games before. But the event cards in this game do even more different things than I’ve seen before.
Even with all these uses, the event deck for any scenario maxes out at about 13 cards. You just need some cards for the actual game. I knew right away we’d have to be very careful about card management.
I expected that the rules might feel a little disjointed, since that’s sadly common with Button Shy’s more complex games. And I was right. The rules are laid out to make reference easy, but that doesn’t map well to learning the game for the first time.
Wildtails was billed as a solo legacy game, so I am really surprised to find that I like playing it better with a second player (like you!).
You’re always using two characters to beat a scenario, and it’s just easier to keep track of who is doing what when each player has a character they’re responsible for.
Even when I failed a scenario several times, I could see aspects of where things went wrong, and I wanted to try again and fix it. (That’s usually where I needed your help.)
I didn’t expect the game to need an internet connection. It’s not really a problem, we’re on the internet a lot in our house… since you only need it for setup and the transition to the next chapter. It really does feel more like referring to a slightly-interactive story guide rather than a necessary tool for the game.
Would we recommend Wildtails?
There’s nothing in here that’s inappropriate for kids, and playing a game of Wildtails always makes me want to play more, whether I win or lose. But the rules are complex enough that I’d stick with the ages 12 and up that are recommended, at least to get started.
What are we going to rate Wildtails from Button Shy?
We’re going to rate it 4 pirate flags out of 5.
Buy it directly from Button Shy Games or ask for it at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Wildtails: A Pirate Legacy from Button Shy Games for this review.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Wildtails: A Pirate Legacy
Age Range: 12+
Number of Players: 1-2
Playtime: 30 minutes