Candy Islands from Jérémy Bemon is a light bidding game published by Studio H and distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames. It is beautifully illustrated in bright colours by Christopher Matt. Up to four young pirate captains square off in a sugary showdown involving two-way bidding for precious treasure chests full of chocolate coins…
Each captain starts with 12 'Bonbon Cannonballs' stored behind their cabin hold screens, a stack of cards between each player represents the islands of candy on which they are bidding. In this way, each captain always seeks to collect the treasure from two islands.
Over 10 rounds, the islands reveal their treasures (flip the top card) and each captain will select at least two Cannonballs to charge into their cannons (ie: hands - minimum one in each). The number of charges is selected in secret and hidden in hand until all captains cry out 'Boarding Parties', whereupon charges are released! The captain who released the most charges will win the top treasure of that island and then, most significantly, pirates swap charges played...
In addition to treasures, captains can bid for new candies to supercharge their cannons, including Gummy Bears, lollipops and the kraken-summoning Papillote! The islands cards are stacked in two layers, the topmost 'wanted' cards reveal the varied candy mercenaries that power-up a pirate's charges, with the lowermost cards the chocolate coins and bonus jars.
The fixed number of Cannonballs means that the fun conundrum for the sweet-toothed pirate is much more to do with patience and probability than economic management... somehow, some time, those Cannonballs are coming back; the question is, if I blow them all on mercenaries will I have them back for the treasure troves?
Candy Islands is fast-paced fun for the family. The basic premise of the game is simple and equally attractive to children and adults. Some of the powers of the mercenaries may require some clarification with newer players. However, Candy Islands has that covered with basic 'Cabin Boy' and advanced 'Old Sea Dogs' versions of the rules. Large families can even combine two copies for up to eight buccaneers vying to become 'the foodiest Pirate of all the Seas'!
(Review by Michael Harrowing)