We were excited to write this Dead Men Tell No Tales review before we even played it because we always wanted there to be pirate board games that also happened to be cooperative. Was it good, though? Keeping reading to find out!
What is Dead Men Tell No Tales?
Dead Men Tell No Tales takes you to the high seas where you must survive on a burning pirate ship long enough to collect a certain amount of treasure. Each unique pirate has fires and undead pirates to deal with along the way, though, so it’s no easy task!
At the start of each game of Dead Men Tell No Tales, a T-shaped, four-space board is put down to represent the ship that the pirates are attempting to loot. Each room on the ship has a different fire level that players need to deal with in order to move around.
Each player starts their turn by revealing a new room, which must be placed somewhere on the ship where there can be a connecting doorway. The space gets a fire die and a skeleton/loot token. The number that shows up on each die is that room’s fire level; the higher the fire level, the worse the fire is in that room.
The pirate players use five action points (and any special abilities) to move around the ship to fight fires, swap items, fight the skeletons and more. If a player chooses not to use all of his or her action points, they are transferred to the next player.
Like many other cooperative games, there is only one way to beat Dead Men Tell No Tales (get all of the loot), but many ways to die:
- Explosions can get out of hand
- Too many treasures are lost
- A player loses all of his or her stamina and there are no more pirates to play
- and more…
The theme in Dead Men Tell No Tales is pirate adventure and swashbuckling, as you’d expect in pirates games. The mechanics of the game don’t necessarily emphasize the pirate theme, but that was okay with us since the artwork on the cards, tiles and other pieces pretty much forced us to believe we were on a burning pirate ship.
Check out Dead Men Tell No Tales on Amazon
- Probably the best thing about Dead Men Tell No Tales is that it is one of the only pirate games that is also cooperative. It really did feel like a game where we were fighting as pirates against undead skeletons.
- We also really liked the stamina meter that tracks each player’s health points. It forces you to strategize how to take care of obstacles on the ship while keeping yourself healthy enough to handle future actions.
- Players who enjoy the mechanics and theme of Dead Men Tell No Tales will also like that it is virtually impossible to play the same game twice. The randomness of the ship tiles and the loot tokens make it a different challenge every time you sit down to play it.
- Dead Man Tell No Tales isn’t a complex game, but it is extremely difficult to beat. Normally we see this as a good thing, but some of the ways that you can lose in this game are very frustrating. Sometimes you can lose through very little fault of your own, which is an issue we think the designers should have addressed.
- While we did have a pretty good time playing Dead Men Tell No Tales, it was noticeable right away that this game felt very similar to other co-op board games we’ve played. One game that immediately came to mind was Flash Point: Fire Rescue, which has similar fire-spreading and fire-fighting mechanics.
We really thought that this Dead Men Tell No Tales review was going to end up being a positive one, but we were a bit underwhelmed. Some of the mechanics are solid, and the artwork is fantastic, but it simply didn’t wow us enough to stay in our collection.
However, if you are interested in pirate board games and want a very tough challenge, you will probably get a kick out of Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Dead Men Tell No Tales Links
BoardGameGeek | Amazon | CoolStuffInc | eBay
Thanks for taking the time to read our Dead Men Tell No Tales review!