Review: Walk the Plank!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Walk the Plank

If you’re familiar with Get Bit! from Mayday Games, you know it’s about a bunch of pirates swimming in the water, trying to get away from a shark. Well, think of Walk the Plank! as sort of a prequel–it’s the reason all those pirates are in the water in the first place. (That doesn’t give an explanation for the hungry kraken pictured in Walk the Plank–but don’t let that bother you too much.)

Here’s the story: you’re all a sorry bunch of pirates, which is why the captain has you all lined up at the plank. But he does need two pirates, so he can’t get rid of all of you. He’s decided to let you all sort it out: the last two pirates on deck get to stay.

Walk the Plank is for 3-8 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. It retails for $20.

Walk the Plank cards
A few of the action cards.

Components

Walk the Plank is a pretty small game: the box is only about 6″ square, just a little bit bigger than the board representing the ship’s deck. Here’s what you get:

  • 1 ship tile
  • 3 plank tiles
  • 1 Davy Jones’ Locker tile
  • 1 Captain’s Favor (first player) token
  • 15 wooden pirate pawns (3 each, 5 colors)
  • 50 cards (10 sets, 5 colors)

All the components are decent; the cardboard pieces are printed double-sided. The cards have a parrot on one side (in your player color) and then show the 10 different actions you can take on the other. The artwork is by Mike Groves aka Poopbird (note: artwork on his personal site may not all be kid-friendly) and is pretty amusing, depicting some pretty shady pirates.

Walk the Plank
A lot of pirates huddled on the first plank piece–who’s going overboard first? Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Gameplay

Setup is quick: place the ship tile, all three plank tiles, and then Davy Jones’ Locker all in a row. All of the pirate pawns go on the ship, and everyone gets the 10 cards in their color. The starting player gets the Captain’s Favor token.

The goal of the game is to be one of the last two pirate pawns left alive.

Everyone chooses three of their cards and puts them facedown in front of them. Then, starting with the first player and going clockwise, everyone reveals one card (in order) and does the corresponding action. You keep going around until everyone has either revealed all three cards or has run out of pirates.

The actions include things like shoving the players to your left and right, extending or retracting the plank (by adding or removing plank tiles), and moving forward or back–sometimes dragging or pushing people along with you. If you can take an action on a card, then you must do it. So sometimes that means dragging one of your own pirates out to sea, because you thought somebody else was going to be there with you at the time.

Once everyone has gone, you get your cards back except for the ones with a skull icon on them–those you have to wait one round before you get to use them again. The Captain’s Favor token is passed counterclockwise, and a new round begins.

If you run out of pirates, then you’re out of the game. When there are only two pirate pawns left, then those two players (or sometimes one player) play through the rest of the cards they have, and see if anyone survives. Anyone left at the end of this round wins!

If, however, nobody has any pirates left on board by the end, then you’re all losers, and the captain was right to get rid of you. Now for a game of Get Bit!

Verdict

I first played Walk the Plank at Gen Con this year, and it’s pretty fun. It’s really quick to learn, and I enjoy this sort of “programming” game where you have to pick a few moves in advance and then see how they play out. (See also: Pirate Dice.)

The various moves are pretty entertaining, particularly when you botch where exactly you’ll be when they happen. Sometimes you end up pulling one of your opponents back to the ship. Or you might retract the plank, only to find that you were the only one standing on the end. The game does reward the ability to predict what your opponents will do, and the fact that the skull cards can only be used once every other round helps you see what’s unavailable. Of course, the more players there are, the harder it gets to plan ahead, and sometimes you just have to hope for the best.

The only real downside is the player elimination–if you have the bad luck to get all of your pirates dumped into the deep early on, then you’ll just get to sit and watch everyone else play. However, with 3 pawns each, usually you have a fighting chance of shoving a few others in before that happens. And the game is short enough that it isn’t a terrible wait either way.

All in all, a fun little game that lets you stab each other (and sometimes yourself) in the back.

Disclosure: Mayday Games provided a copy for review.

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