Last night, Jan and I tried out Shanghaien, a Michael Schacht and Roman Pelek design that was published by Abacus. What an excellent little game it is. Strictly two player, it is a game about recruiting sailors of various nationalities to join your crew.

Each of the eight rounds involves a struggle over six sailor cards (or special action cards) with each card corresponding to the numbers 1-6 0n a die. The player rolls two dice and picks one to allocate to the card matching that number. When a player chooses to, or is forced to, end the round, whoever allocated the most dice to a card wins that sailor/special action. Ties are broken by the value of dice allocated to neighbouring cards, which adds an extra tactical consideration to picking which die to use during the round. After eight rounds, sailors in each nationality are compared and the player with the stronger sailors in the nationality gains VPs equal to the value of the weaker player’s sailors. However, if you have a monopoly of sailors in a nationality, you score VPs matching your own strength.

There is plenty to weigh up each turn to make the game interesting but never too much to keep track of , which is ideal for the more casual gamer. The game plays to a finish in 20-30 minutes and seems great fun. This should get plenty of play around here.