Scuttle is a fast-action game of piratey shenanigans, thievery, and backstabbing for 2-3 players. Gameplay consists of a 40-card battle royale in which players attempt to collect (or steal) enough treasure to win. The art is fun, if a little strange, but the instructions were super simple to follow. Slap this down in front of your kids, and watch them teach themselves in one minute.
Similar to a regular deck of cards, there are three suits of cards, each with cards Ace-King, and one Joker. There is a small expansion that adds a fourth suit, and another Joker, Black Jack. With the expansion, the deck is a full 54 cards, including Jokers.
Each card, except the 10 cards of each suit, has an ability, which can advance the game. With so many abilities, games can become a bit chaotic, similar to Fluxx. The rules may change dramatically for each player, and victory is never certain. Fortunes are won and lost in every game (scurvy not included), so players should be ready for backstabbing and shenanigans, lest they feel cheated.
Each turn, a player gets a single action. They may draw a new card, place a treasure down, or use an ability. Cards 1-9 in each suit can use their ability or be placed as treasure–never both. The 10 card has no abilities, and must always be played as a treasure. Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Jokers are “Permanent” cards, which are never treasure, but have an ongoing effect on the rules. Because turns are simple, gameplay goes quickly. Players who need time to analyze the field will slow the game down, especially if they have difficulty tracking events through the turns.
Different card mechanics include:
- Maelstrom (Ace): Remove all unprotected treasure.
- Kraken (6): Remove all permanents from play.
- Pirate Code (9): All other players need 4 more treasure to win.
- Pirate King (King): You need less treasure to win.
- Cutlass (2): Cancel an opponents action, or remove a permanent card.
The variety of the cards means it is difficult to have a strategy. When the field is wiped by a Kraken, Players must rebuild their field while adapting to a new strategy which must be based on cards not already played.
In the games I’ve played, only one went over five minutes, and that was because everyone (including me) had to evaluate cards for the first time. At least two games have ended in less than 3 minutes, after a player played a King or two to win with less treasure. Scuttle is not a game for players who don’t like to be attacked, or those who don’t like their rules and strategies to change. It is, however, a great game to sic 2-3 kids on, and watch as they practice their best pirate voices.
Scuttle is live on Kickstarter now, so go check it out!