Rowboat is played by two to four players. In a two player or three player game each player is played as an individual trying to win the game. In a four player game you play as partners, similar to other trick taking card games.
Component Breakdown: 61 Cards spilt into 4 suits (Oars and Waves are the Blue colored Suits – Shells and Maps are the Green Suits), 1 Sand Timer, 3 types of specialty cards (Rowboat, Moon, and Lighthouse).
The basic play of the game starts with the dealer shuffling the 61 cards together and dealing out one at a time in the center until either four suits have been reached or twelve cards (which ever comes first). This is called the Tide.
Next, the dealer then deals out the same number of cards that are in the Tide to each player.
Starting with the first player, they will look at the first card that is in the Tide row and that is the trump for this play. The player then plays a card from their hand matching that suit (if they can). If not they may play a different suit or the Rowboat card (explained later).
Each player in turn tries to beat the card that was played and win the trick.
Card values (in ranking order from lowest to highest) are: “A” (Anchor Card), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, “D” (Dolphin), “M” (Mermaid), “W” (Whale). The rules recommend if you have trouble remembering the letters, use the Alphabet to remember them from first (lowest) to last (Highest).
In this game the rules also state that you can hold a card that is called a KNOB or an OFF COLORED KNOB.
A KNOB is a card that is the same RANK and COLOR of the TIDE card. This card will beat all trump cards that are played. For instance if the TIDE card is the 8 of Shells, and player one hold the 8 of MAPS (Same Color, Same Rank, but not same Suit) and player two plays a trump card or another card, Player one may play a KNOB and take the trick, even if they hold a trump card in their hand.
A player that holds a card that is their last trump can decide to hold onto that card to play as a KNOB later. This is called “Married To The Knob”. It also has to be played as a KNOB later and can not be played at any other time.
An OFF COLORED KNOB is a card that has the same RANK, but a different COLOR. These cards can be played and beat all NON-TRUMP cards. This card loses if the other player plays a TRUMP or KNOB.
If your last TRUMP card is an OFF COLORED KNOB (for a later card) you may not hang onto the card to use. You must use that as trump.
The ROWBOAT card beats every other card, including Knobs. You can not play the Rowboat card on the last round of any hand. It also can not be beat by another Rowboat card.
The LIGHTHOUSE card can be played for a player to look at another players hand. When the LIGHTHOUSE card is played, the player playing it gets to view the other players hand while the SAND TIMER still has sand in it. At the end of the last drop of sand, the player has to return the hand to the opposing player and continue the game.
The MOON card may be played before the TIDE is dealt. When the dealer plays the MOON card, they choose a number between four and twelve and then deals that many cards to the TIDE and players.
BIDDING: For the most part, you can play the game without bidding, but the real fun comes into play when you incorporate bidding.
Bidding is telling the other player how many tricks you think you will win for that hand.
Winning over the amount you bid adds BAGS to your score. For instance: Player one bids 5 and takes 6 tricks. They will score 10 points for each trick they took (50 Points) and have 1 BAG also added to their hand. When a player reaches 5 BAGS they lose 100 Points.
A player who comes short of their bid loses 10 points for each number they have bid. For example: Player A bids 5 and only makes 4. They would score -50 points.
For scoring purposes you can also encounter what is called MISPLAYS. Misplays happen when: 1 – a player does not follow suit when they are required to do so and 2 – a card is not played when it is MARRIED TO THE MOB and is played on a different card. For either of these misplays a player will score an additional 2 bags penalty.
The first player to score 200 points or more, wins the game.
This copy of Rowboat was sent to me by Moosetache Games for review. Also, they sent me some player aids that were not included in the first edition run of the game. This is a picture of one of those cards. I am told that these cards will be inserted into the second edition printing.
Also, the ROWBOAT, LIGHTHOUSE, and MOON cards will have a different color backing on them for the second edition.
MY IMPRESSION: I really liked the game concept, and thought the Nautical theme was pretty cool. However you could potentially play this game with a regular set of cards and the additional 9 cards that are the ROWBOAT, LIGHTHOUSE, and MOON as some other card like a joker, or something to that effect.
The packaging box was nicely illustrated, although the insert did not hold the cards in place very well. I took the insert out and just used a rubber band for my set of cards. I will still keep the stuff in the box as it fits on the shelf nicely with some of my other small game boxes.
This game is a great game to take with you, especially to the beach! The nautical theme will fit in quite well there!
Now for the really fun part:
MOOSETACHE GAMES is going to give one lucky viewer/commenter a FREE copy of this game, so they can have as much fun playing it as I did. You will have until THURSDAY APRIL 7, 2011 to go to their FACEBOOK PAGE and write the comment “Meet The Meeples Sent Me Here For A Copy Of Rowboat!”. If you can’t get to the FACEBOOK LINK, then use their website to get there at http://www.moosetachegames.com/.
The winner will be drawn by the team from Moosetache Games sometime shortly thereafter and will be notified to send their shipping information and will receive the game! Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!
Thank you to Moosetache Games, and especially Cristina at Moosetache games for sending me the review copy and also offering all of you a chance to win a copy of your own!