Cat pirates and corgi officers, Krakens and crocs, all battle to Take the Gold in this quick card game.
At a glance: Take the Gold is a game from CardLords for 2 to 6 players, ages 8 and up, and takes 5–10 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $12 for a copy of the game. The game is fairly simple and could be played by even younger kids without much difficulty—you’ll just need to explain the different types of cards ahead of time.
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The components are fairly simple: a deck of 54 cards in a tuckbox. The copy I have is a prototype, so the tuckbox is for CardLords’ previous game, BattleGoats. The tuckbox is plastic instead of cardboard, so it’s more durable and looks like it will hold up well.
There are only 7 different types of cards in the deck, with several copies of each type, but the illustrations are really adorable. I foresee the art prints may be a popular add-on, because who doesn’t want a picture of cat pirates or corgi officers?
How to Play
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to collect 4 Gold—or have the most Gold when the ship is destroyed.
Shuffle and deal each player 2 cards, and pick a random starting player.
On your turn, you draw a card, and then you may play a card. Here are the different card types:
- Coin: You don’t play these—collect 4 to win!
- One Pirate: Steal a random card from a player.
- Two Pirates: Steal two random cards from a player.
- One Officer: Prevent one card from being stolen.
- Two Officers: Prevent two cards from being stolen.
- Kraken: Make a player discard their whole hand.
- Pirate Captain: Prevent a Kraken attack, or use to steal 1 coin or 2 random cards from another player. (Can’t be stopped by Officers.)
You have a hand limit of 5, so if you ever have more cards than that, you’ll have to discard down at the end of your turn.
If you ever have 4 Gold, you win! Or, if the Kraken successfully attacks 3 times (i.e., it isn’t prevented by the Pirate Captain), then the game ends immediately, and all players show how much Gold they have—the player with the most wins.
For advanced play, you must start your turn with 4 Gold in hand to win, rather than just getting to 4 at any point.
Take the Gold is a cute, fast-paced game, and it’s on the simpler side, so it’s fun for younger kids and casual gamers, but won’t be as satisfying for somebody who wants deeper strategy. I do think the game gets more interesting with more players, simply because there are more choices when you steal—in a 2-player game, you’re always stealing from the same person.
There’s a little bit of strategy but quite often it seems like there’s an optimal move, meaning that you don’t have much of a choice. If you only have Gold and Officers, you can’t play anything and will have to pass. If you have Pirates, the questions are who to play them on, and which card to take. I suppose you could decide to hold onto a Pirate card instead of playing it, but then that means somebody might steal the card from you and use it against you to steal something else.
There are a few choices that I think do have some significance, involving the Pirate Captain. The Pirate Captain protects you from the Kraken, so it may be important to hold onto rather than playing it—but then, of course, it’s also at risk of being stolen from you. Another interesting choice is what to do when somebody plays a Pirate Captain on you: do you pay the Gold, or do you let them take two cards at random? Depending on the mix of cards left in your hand, you might want to let them take two, hoping that they miss the Gold, particularly if you think giving them one Gold will let them win the game.
And, of course, there’s the Kraken—it causes somebody to discard all of their cards (unless they have a Pirate Captain), which can prevent them from winning, but it doesn’t actually get you any closer to winning because you wouldn’t get any of the Gold that is discarded. However, since the game ends after three successful Kraken attacks, if you think you’re ahead, you can gamble by playing the Kraken. There are only four of them in the deck, though, so they’re not easy to come by.
Since you can only have five cards in your hand total and it takes four Gold to win, there is a little bit of a catchup mechanic—if you’re close to winning, then you don’t have as many cards to play, either to steal more or to protect yourself from attacks. Plus, generally if you’re holding a bunch of cards, you’re more of a target for other players.
I’ve played this several times with my kids and a couple of adult players, and it’s okay for a round or two but it’s not something I’ll probably break out quite as often myself. It’s intended for some light, quick gaming. The quality of the artwork and the box is really nice, so it’s something you could tuck into your pocket on the go, and it’s nice that it goes up to 6 players.