Recently I got my hands on Captain’s Wager from Grey Fox Games. This was a Kickstarter acquisition, and I backed it due to the great videos of the gameplay and the art style that was in the game. Once I got the game in hand and played it a few times, I was really impressed with how the Treasure cards in the game were used….. for multiple different mechanics without being overly messy or confusing. They have 5 uses:
1.) Count as gold (victory points) at the end of the game
At the end of the game, any cards remaining face down in a player’s treasure deck count as 1 gold each. Simply put, if you do not ante your own treasure cards during the game, you add them as victory points at the end of the game.
2.) Count as gold in your opponent’s stash, and worth more victory points
Every card that you get from the pot at the end of an encounter will go to your Claimed Treasure stack, faceup, and all Treasure cards are worth more than 1 gold. The above card is worth 3 gold for example.
3.) Your ante each encounter
At the beginning of each encounter, throwing one of your Treasure cards into the general ante creates the pool of cards that everyone is playing for. Great way to start off the round with a gambling mechanic that gets everyone involved.
4.) Unique abilities you can play from your hand
When you gain a card from treasure, you have the option to take some of your treasure into your hand, to use the ability on the card instead of “banking” your treasure for future victory points. This use is a great way for players to make decisions and weigh risks within their own game strategy.
5.) The timing mechanism that ends the game
Once one player’s Treasure deck runs out, the game is over, and since each player only has 15 cards in this deck, a single player could go crazy and try for a quick game, or if everyone plays conservatively, the game can go a few more rounds.
Having one card fulfill requirements for five different game mechanics while also being this simple and easy to read is quite amazing; many card games rely on just dropping a ton of text and/or numbers on cards to give them multiple uses. In some cases, a designer would chop the card in half or have part of the card upside down to give cards more than one ability. I’m not saying that it’s lazy or bad design to use those methods, one of my future games splits cards in two, but Captain’s Wager gives it’s cards multiple uses in such an eloquent way I feel it really needs to be called out for the genius in its design. I love it and I can definitely see Captain’s Wager getting to my table often.