Gold n’ Grog (Saturday Review)

Release Date: 2023Players: 2-6
Designer: Jake A SmithLength: 30-45 minutes
Artist: Taylor StoneAge: 8+
Publisher: Next Adventure GamesComplexity: 1.0 / 5
Plastic (by weight): <1%Air (by volume): <10%

Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of rum! That was the song that accompanied the small boat being rowed by a motley crew of scallywags. We were heading to our secret pirate treasure island to retrieve the loot we had stashed over many, many years. The problem was, none of us knew exactly where we had buried our spoils. We had packed plenty of shovels though to make short work of this small patch of land. After we pulled up on shore and spread out on the island, it was time to dig for Gold n’ Grog by Jake A Smith from Next Adventure Games.

Digging For Treasure

Yes, here is yet another push-your-luck card game for all the family. There are many of these available on the market and they have all started to look and feel very much the same. You simply draw a card and decide whether to push or stick. Some cards will have actions on them that might allow you to steal from another player or protect yourself from others. There are all sorts of variations on the theme, but they’re not really that much different from each other.

So when I was offered a review copy of Gold n’ Grog, my expectations were set accordingly. Yet, as soon as I started to read the rules, I knew there was something a bit different here. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the game seemed to do something special. I knew I had to dig deeper.

The rules were simple enough, so I decided to recruit a crew of fellow players and set up the game. That’s when it hit me. There is something very literal. The theme of digging for treasure is directly implemented in the way you draw cards. No, there is no boring draw deck or multiple piles of cards that you have to cut and choose. You simply shuffle all the cards and spread them out on the table.

The cards have a little cartoon-style island drawn on their backs. So when you see the spread out pile of cards, you are immediately reminded of a real treasure island. The island is thinner at the periphery and thicker in the middle, purely because that’s what naturally happens when you spread a deck of cards out on a flat surface. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s immediate and visually very enticing.

you're literally digging for treasure among the pile of cards
you’re literally digging for treasure among the pile of cards

Gold N’ More

Not only that, as you draw a card, you feel like you should dig into the island and go for a card that’s a bit further down. You end up literally digging for treasure among the messy pile of cards. I really didn’t expect much of Gold n’ Grog, but this simple idea is amazing.

The rest of the game is your usual fare. Many cards in the deck represent treasures of different values. There are also item and action cards that you can use to attack other players or protect yourself. Of course, there are also enemy cards, which you have to try and defeat by playing the relevant item card from your hand, or they will steal the loot you dug up on your turn.

It’s the sort of thing that you would expect from other push-your-luck games. You want to keep drawing to get more points, but you have to be careful. If you can card count, you can also work out at what point the island is likely to have more threats than treasure. Personally, I’m not that good at card counting, but of course, as you watch other pirates dig up more and more gold, you know your chances of getting a decent pile of loot are dwindling.

Grog for all the Family

The illustrations and the simple gameplay make Gold n’ Grog the ideal family game. Kids love attacking their parents. The game is also great fun with friends. You can finally show your true colours. It’s especially fun when you can deflect an attack back to the attacker.

So, yes, in that way Gold n’ Grog is very much like many of the other push-your-luck family card games out there. There aren’t too many surprises, but that’s not a bad thing. Where the game does stand proud above the rest is the card pile island. I really can’t get over how such a simple idea has such a huge impact on the gameplay experience. It’s not even like it’s a gimmick. After all, you need the cards for the game.

If you fancy yourself as a ruthless pirate, then I would strongly recommend you give Gold n’ Grog a go. Dig for card treasures, push your luck and fend off attacks from enemies and fellow players alike. It’s a lot of fun and the perfect game for a little bit of light entertainment and socialising.

Useful Links

Videos

Transparency Facts

I feel that this review reflects my own, independent and honest opinion, but the facts below allow you to decide whether you think that I was influenced in any way.

  • I was sent a free review copy of this game by the publisher.
  • At the time of writing, neither the designers, nor the publisher, nor anyone linked to the game supported me financially or by payment in kind.

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/)

Music: In Pursuit Of A Pirate by Tim Kulig
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/8520-in-pursuit-of-a-pirate
Licensed under CC BY 4.0: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Music: The Song Of Sirens by Alexander Nakarada
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/9663-the-song-of-sirens
Licensed under CC BY 4.0: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Playlist

These are the songs I listened to while I was writing this review: