Updated: Feb 10, 2020
With a circular board, this is a game that seems to have been specifically designed to be shown in 360º on Board’s Eye View :-)
The game itself is essentially a push your luck version of poker dice. The board represents an island with 10 piers. Each has three doubloons at the end. Players roll the five custom six-sided dice to match symbols to those on the piers. If what they roll corresponds with the combination of symbols shown on the pier, they take the closest (lowest value) doubloon. This will reveal another symbol so will make it harder to collect the next doubloon. Players can reroll twice, rolling as many dice as they like, so it is not unduly difficult to unlock doubloons. However, as the game progresses and the available doubloons thin out, players are likely to be left competing only for the 4- and 5-of-a-kind rewards. If a player is unable to match their roll to an available doubloon, they instead take a skull token (worth minus 1). The game ends when either all the doubloons or all the skull tokens are gone. The winner is the player who amasses the largest fortune.
That really is all there is to Gold Armada. Even so, the rules leave some questions open. At the early stages of the game, a simple pair is needed to claim the first doubloon at the first six piers. That means it would be possible to roll dice that correspond with the symbols open on two different piers. The rules don’t specify, however, whether players are limited to taking just one doubloon or whether they can take doubloons from two different piers if they successfully match both combinations.
Though the game is simple, the Finnish publishers, Tactic, haven’t skimped on its production. In addition to the circular board, the cardboard doubloons have been printed with a shiny golden foil. For reasons we weren’t able to fathom, the box has been overproduced with a constructible divider. This seems to serve absolutely no purpose: if you follow the instructions in the rules and put the divider in place, you can no longer fit the playing board segments into the box. It’s almost as if the box were designed to take a different game.
If you like poker dice, Gold Armada offers an attractive variation on the theme that will keep the family amused. Given the components, you will be left though thinking that there ought to be more to this game. We found no shortage of suggestions of rule tweaks to add, for example, a degree of jeopardy to rerolls, so this is a game on which you could easily escalate the challenge with the addition of just a few simple house rules.