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In Issac Pante's Barrakuda, the 2-4 players are divers competing to retrieve treasure from shipwrecks on the ocean floor. In this brisk, interactive game, you're trying to be the first to get eight gold coins into your vault by simultaneously playing 'movement' cards from your hand that take your diver to a specific numbered location and taking the actions at that location.

Six numbered location cards make up the ocean floor and therefore the 'board' on which you're playing. The game comes with recommended starting cards but there's an additional set of numbered cards so you can amend the set up by substituting one or more of the alternative cards. Locations specify a special action and a general action that can be taken. If your diver meeple is alone on a location, they get to take both actions. If two or more divers have chosen the same location, then the player who has the fewest movement cards on the table gets to take the special action or can choose to rob another opponent at that location; all there then take the general action. If players are tied for initiative, they all take the general action; none take the special action.

But of course, there's also the Barracuda... That's mostly controlled by dice. A custom six-sided die (1,1,1,2,2,2) ordinarily determines how far the Barracuda moves and a standard d6 determines which numbered location card it moves towards, moving only orthogonally. Players all have a Barracuda card, however, and if, on a turn, you are the only player who plays your Barracuda card in place of a movement card then you roll the custom die to determine how far Barracuda can move but you determine the direction. If two or more players play their Barracuda cards at the same time, then none control the Barracuda. If the Barracuda ends up at the same location as your diver, you drop all your treasure and you only get to take the general action.

That's pretty much all the rules, so this is a game where players are trying to bluff each other and guess what movement cards others are going to play and/or put themselves at advantage to others if you end up at the same location. You'll want to keep track of what movement cards others have remaining so you know what locations they can go to. You get to pick up all your movement cards when they've all been played but other locations also let you pick up some movement cards, so canny use of those can give you the initiative, and therefore the ability to steal treasure or take the special action when you end up at the same location as an opponent.

Merely collecting gold isn't sufficient, not least because the gold you are carrying is always vulnerable to theft or Barracuda attack. Gold is only securely yours when you get it into your vault (the special action on location card 1. Note tho' that the special action on default Location 1 card allows a maximum of seven coins to be transferred to your vault; to win you need to have eight coins in the vault...

Barrakuda is a lively tactical game. Tho' it inevitably involves 'take that' interactions, it never feels like a 'nasty' game, even when you find yourself on the receiving end of a steal action! It means Barrakuda can be enjoyed as a filler-length family game that you can expect to play through in around 20 minutes. Barrakuda benefits from attractive art from Ajsa Zdravkovic and Helvetiq have packaged the game in a commendably compact box, so it could be an ideal game to pack for your holidays - especially if you're venturing out to tropical waters...

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