Game Buzz: Tides of Loot

Portal Games is a Polish publisher that has really been making waves in the international market lately, primarily due to successful games like Robinson Crusoe and Imperial Settlers.  They’re releasing several titles at GenCon this year, and today, I want to look at two of them.  First up is

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Tides of Time was designed by Kristian Čurla.  It’s a two-player drafting microgame where players are building a civilization over time.  The game only comes with 18 cards, as well as a reference card, a scoring pad, a pencil, and four relic tokens.  At the start of the game, each player is dealt five cards.  From these cards, you will choose one, then pass the rest.  The chosen card will then be revealed, and you will choose a new card, passing the rest.  This continues until you have five cards played out in front of you, at which time you will score.  Each card has a different scoring condition on it, you will score for the conditions you met.

At the end of the first round, you will choose one card from the five you ended up playing to keep as a Relic of the Past.  Mark it with a Relic token…this card will remain in play for the rest of the game.  You’ll then remove one other card from the game, draw two more, and begin a new round drafting from your new hand of five.  This time, you will end up with six cards in play.  You’ll repeat this process at the end of the second round, meaning that after the third round, you will have seven cards in play.  At this time, the player with the most points wins.

I love the idea of microgames, but it seems like there are a lot of substandard ones out there.  There also seem to be a glut of games being called “micro” that I would not consider to be as such.  I still usually prefer the term “pocket games.”  But this one, I think, fits the description of a microgame very well.  It has a relative few cards, but seems to pack a lot of punch.  The different combinations of objectives look like they will keep the game fresh for a long time.  Additionally, I think it’s great that there’s a two-player drafting game on the market now.  So this is one I’m quite interested to check out.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek.  It’s a pirate-themed game for 2-5 players that utilizes scenarios and a unique dice rolling mechanism to create the experience.  The game comes with 20 pirate ship dice, 5 captain ship dice, 13 non-player (NP) ship dice, 27 sailor cards, 44 adventure cards, 8 VP cards, 6 port boards, a market token, 35 coins, 20 upgrade cards, 20 upgrade tokens, one ruler, one Wanted token, 5 double-sided captain tokens, 7 introductory adventures, 5 bow pieces, 5 mast pieces, 5 stern pieces, 45 part pieces, a loot bag, 56 loot tokens, 11 ocean tiles, and a scenario order board.  Each player will construct a ship out of a bow, a mast, a stern, and a chosen part (you could also get a sail and a hold, depending on the number of players).  Players also get dice of their color.  The box bottom is placed in the middle of the table, as it will be integral to play of the game.

There are two scenarios in the basic game, each consisting of five quests.  A quest involves completing a number of adventure cards before visiting the port.  The first thing that happens in a quest is the Briefing phase.  Here, the first player (aka the Baron) draws the appropriate adventure card.  This will tell the Baron information about the current quest, including parameters, NP ships, and so on.  Then, each player decides how many ships (dice) he wants to assign to the adventure and gives them to the Baron.  You can choose zero.

In the Ship Drop phase, the Baron takes all of the dice collected (player and NP), shakes them (rattle) and drops them in the box bottom.  Do not roll them.  Drop them.

In the NP Ship Actions, the Baron consults the adventure card to see what each symbol on the NP dice means.  Explode means sinking (removing) a number of the closest ships.  Escape means the NP die is removed from the box.  Volley means the closest player ship is sunk.  Move forwards means to move the NP ship towards the nearest player ship, using the ruler or a card edge to measure long range.  Move away means that you move the NP ship away from the nearest player ship.  Surrender means the player who sinks this ship gets +1 loot instead of a coin for sinking it.  Re-drop means to drop this ship again.  Ally means it’s a friendly ship that you cannot attack.

Next is Player Actions.  Starting with the Baron, players either perform one action or pass, which ends your round.  The two possible actions are to move or fire.  To move, you spend a sail (flip it over), then move up to one long range.  To fire, spend two cannons (or one if you have a ship with a cannon symbol) and sink an NP ship within a short range.  You can’t attack other players, only NP ships.  Place the sunken ship on your captain token.

Now it’s time for the Battle phase.  Compare the strength of NP ship and player ship that are closest to each other.  The stronger ship sinks the weaker ship.  Repeat this with the next pair of closest ships until all NP ships or all player ships have been sunk.

For the Coins Reward, take one silver coin for each NP ship you sank.  In the Loot phase, each player who participated in the adventure gets to draw Loot tokens from the bag.  You can then Activate Sailors you may have, then make Ship Repairs by paying one Loot per ship you own that was sunk.  You then Stow Loot – one per ship, and one per hold.  Anything you don’t have room for is returned to the bag.

If there are still remaining adventures in the current quest, go back to the Briefing phase.  Otherwise, it’s time for a Port Visit.  Here, there are six locations that are visited in the following order:

  • Market: You may exchange two Loot tokens for one of any type.  You may do this multiple times.
  • Tavern: Discard two Rum to hire a Sailor – draw three Sailor cards and keep one.
  • Shipyard: Discard one Fabric to buy one part – a sail, a cannon, or a hold.
  • Workshop: Discard one Spice and one Fabric to draw three Upgrade cards, keeping one and discarding the others.  Then perform the chosen upgrade.
  • The Pit: Gift any amount of Loot to the Pirate King and receive coins instead – one coin per valuable Loot and one coin per two other Loot.
  • Guild: Each player can buy a VP card using their coins.  You can only buy the top card of the Guild deck.

At the end of the Port phase, every part and upgrade that was used on the quest is refreshed.  Once the scenario has been completed, the player with the most points wins.

This game looks like a lot of fun.  It looks like it draws on miniatures games for influence, but uses dice instead to create the battle atmosphere.  In the end, there’s a lot of luck involved, and I think it might be tough to strategize this one.  But it does seem like it will be a blast to play, and probably a very thematic pirate game.  I think the cover conveys that sense of fun, though the way the title is written, I always think the game should be called Rattle Battle: Grab the Loot.  Nonetheless, this one sounds good.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!


  • BGG page for Tides of Time
  • BGG page for Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot
  • Portal Games website
  • BGG overview of RBGTL from Origins 2015

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