Designer: Andy Brown, Phil Cairns, Sean McCaughey
Artist: Simon Bisley, Andy Brown
Publisher: Berserker Arts
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2–4
Playing Time: 7–30 Minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Draw and Play, Take That / Pirates
Can you stay out of Davey Jones Locker?
Salty Dogs is a fast-paced, last-man-standing, draw and play card game designed for quick learning and short games. We played Salty Dogs with the basic game, which contains 80 cards. They have an expansion and a statement about playing with 90 cards, so I am assuming this is with the expansion.
Learning Salty Dogs was easy, and our game started quickly. The cards have most of the information needed so you don't need to refer back to the rules. This is a good game for younger players because they were able to understand it quickly and take off on their own.
Gameplay and mechanics
Each player needs their crew. There are 25 Crew cards in the deck. Although the rules state to remove the Crew cards from the deck and then give each player five, there is no need to sort and shuffle them. Crew cards are used as a counter, there are no special abilities on the cards. So, make sure each player has 5 crew members.
If you are using the play mats, place the crew members in their positions. Otherwise keep them in a row so you know who the Captain and the First Mate are (they have certain immunities to cards being played on them).
Shuffle up the remaining cards (with the unused Crew cards) and deal each player 5 cards. The remaining cards become a draw pile.
When taking your turn, start by drawing a card. Now you have 3 options.
Your first option is to attack an enemy. The goal is to eliminate the other players' Crew and the game is designed around attacking and reducing numbers. Some attacks can be defended, others can't.
One of the attacks is to inflict an illness. This is one of the attacks that can't be immediately defended against. On your turn, one option is to cure a crew member.
The final option is to refill an empty crew space. The number of extra crew is limited (25 to start and the rest went into the draw). As the game progresses, the chance of replacing your crew is less.
Once the 3 base crew members have been taken out of play, then the First Mate is vulnerable. After he is out of the way you can focus your attention on the player's Captain.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout (optional)
Pirates are always a good theme, especially in a game designed to eliminate your opponents.
Artwork makes Salty Dogs more fun. Everything is anthropomorphic (animals represent everything). It is all along the lines of cartoon art for the lower age range Salty Dogs is designed for.
- The art is fun
- This is a good cabin game (small and easy to transport and can be played just about anywhere)
- Easy and fast to learn
- Easy to teach (one young player was able to teach another)
- Family friendly
- Filler game
Salty Dogs is a good game for families with younger players who want to join in on game night. This is a game they can learn and play on their own. We noticed their games took longer as they took in the artwork and had commentary going along with the characters they were creating on the spot.
I recommend Salty Dogs for players who like
- Dead Man’s Draw
- Socializing during play
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.blogspot.com.