Loot Ahoy! Calling All Shipwreckers!
HMS Dolores’ Historical Context
Merchant vessels traveling by sea have successfully been used to carry exotic goods between nations, exposing the citizenry to novel and fascinating new products. Merchants willing to brave the risks and send their ships out to discover, trade, and deliver cargo to other nations have been reaping the sizeable financial rewards. Unfortunately for these merchants, they have more to worry about than the tempestuous seas or navigational mishaps. Several enterprising individuals have banded together to waylay these merchant ships and seize the cargo for themselves.
These shipwreckers light signal fires along the rocky coast to lure in unsuspecting merchant ships. Once a ship has crashed on the rocks, its cargo will often wash ashore—right into the waiting arms of the shipwreckers. Of course, even the must industrious independent operations have occupational hazards, and shipwreckers are no different. Should two rival shipwrecking crews reach a crate at the same time, they must find a way to agree (or not) as to how the loot should be divided.
Playing HMS Dolores
Tonight, one such merchant ship traveling from Cardiz, the HMS Dolores, has been buffeted about in a vicious storm. Following the lure fires of the shipwreckers, the Dolores has crashed and broken on the rocks of Breton. Crate after crate are now washing ashore, just waiting to be seized.
In HMS Dolores, a fast-paced card game designed by Eric Lang and Bruno Faidutti, two to four players take the roles of rival shipwreckers, competing to recover as much loot as possible from the wreckage of the Dolores.
The cargo up for grabs is represented by cards of seven different suits, each signifying a different type of loot. Each player or shipwrecker’s crew begins the came with four cards face-up in front of him or her, organized by suit. Then, negotiations commence, as the shipwreckers decide whether to Fight, First Pick, or make Peace with rival crews. Once the sun rises, the shipwrecker with the highest score wins the game!
Sizing Up The Precious Cargo!
HMS Dolores is played over a series of turns, each turn between two adjacent players. These players reveal four new cards, then discuss the benefits and detriments of Fighting, First Picking, or making Peace with one another. Ultimately, players must simultaneously demonstrate their intent to Fight, First Pick, or Peace by making a hand signal like those used in rock, paper, scissors. A closed fists represents Fight, a thumbs up signifies a First Pick, and an open palm indicates that a player wishes to make Peace.
The revealed loot is divided depending on how both players have decided they want to engage with the rival shipwrecker. For example, if both players choose Peace, then players split the loot evenly, with each crew claiming the two loot cards closest to them. Should both players be in a more antagonistic mood and decide to get First Pick, then all four crates of loot are discarded, and each player must also discard a full suit of loot cards from their display area.
Unanticipated events could be a burden or a boon to one or more shipwreckers, with event cards such as Fistfight which allows competing shipwreckers to signal their intent with two hands, and then choose the desired result, or the Backwash event, which tugs the newly revealed cargo back out to sea and replaces it with four new crates of loot.