Awesome Games Full of Tricks and Treats: Rowboat and Myth: Pantheons
May 14, 2010
By Jonathan Liu Email Author
Rowboat is a new game from Moosetache Games for two to four players. It’s recommended for ages 13 and up, although I would think a younger kid who’s familiar with other trick-taking games might be able to pick this up. (Do younger kids still play Spades, though?) The website states that it can take anywhere from an hour to three hours, though the two-player games I’ve played were significantly shorter than that. Rowboat comes with 61 cards and a sand timer.
Rowboat looks a little more like a traditional card game at first: the cards have different, nautically-themed suits (Shells, Maps, Waves, and Oars) but the layouts are the same as what you’re used to from a poker deck. The Ace has been replaced by an Anchor; instead of the Jack, Queen and King, the high numbers are the Dolphin, Mermaid, Seeker, and Whale—so it’s basically like a poker deck with an additional card in the lineup. Bidding is similar to Spades, too: you bid on how many tricks you think you’ll take, and you get ten points per successful trick, plus one point for each trick you take over your bid which counts as a sandbag. Accumulate five sandbags and you lose 100 points. Don’t make your bid, and you lose ten times your bid, regardless of how close you came to it. First player to 200 points wins. So far, that’s all a fairly straightforward trick-taking game.
What’s new is the Tide, Knobs, and a few specialty cards. Before the round begins, the dealer reveals the Tide: a series of cards (“ruling cards”) face-up in the center of the table, stopping when either all four suits are revealed or twelve cards have been played, whichever comes first. The Tide determines both the number of rounds in the next hand and the trump suit for each round. (For example, in the photo above, the hand will last eight rounds, and the trump suits will be: Shells, Waves, Waves, Oars, Waves, Shells, Waves, Maps.) I noticed after playing a few times that in cases where the Tide hits twelve cards and not all four suits have been revealed, you’re likely to have a lot of the remaining suits in your hand and not so many trumps, which makes bidding an interesting exercise in guesswork and probability…