This week I want to talk about one of the defining features of Osprey Adrift — and one that differentiates it from other elimination-based social deduction games:
There can be only one winner.
See, pirates don’t like to play nice. Sure, they have a loose ‘pirates’ code’ but that code is meant to be broken… and, let’s face it… when there’s a group of cannibals on board the ship, it will get broken. So while there are teams in Osprey Adrift, when all’s said and done and the ship gets rescued at the end of the game, the members of the suviving team will inevitably manipulate the rescue vessel’s crew to determine who’s top dog. Basically… the person who managed to accumulate the most wealth at the end of the game is the winner.
In terms of game mechanics, what this means is there’s Coin cards scattered inside the Scavenge deck. Throughout the game, players draw these Coin cards and can load up their hand with them. Of course, this means you’ll have fewer slots for other cards… since you can only keep 5 cards in your hand at the end of your turns. So why would a player want to save their Coins? Why not just discard them whenever you draw them, until the game’s getting close to ending… and then and only then start stocking up on Coins?
Well, Coins also serve another valuable function in Osprey Adrift. Every single round, during the Dawn phase, players must bid their Coins for the right to be that round’s captain. Being captain is nothing to scoff at, either! I’ve seen plenty of games won due to the captain’s powers. In one such game, the two Cannibal players even rolled with an “always captain” strategy — they made a pact to see to it that one of them was always the captain… every single round.
Essentially, the captain’s powers are twofold: 1) they get to choose the order that players vote at Dusk for forcing someone to walk the plank. This is not only a strategic and tactical advantage (being able to see how people are voting, and forcing them to vote in a specific order), but it’s also a subtle yet powerful psychological advantage as well. And 2) if there’s a tie in the voting to have someone walk the plank, then the captain decides how they want to break the tie. This happens more often than you’d think… especially in games where the players are a bit timid and don’t want to be the “bad guy” who sends someone to sleep with the fishes; they’ll create a tie on purpose… allowing the captain to make the elimination.
At first glance, Coins may not seem like the most powerful cards, but they hold a lot of sway both at the start of each round… and at the end of the game. For a pirate, money is everything. Just don’t get too greedy and forget to be on the lookout for a cannibal or two who’s after more than just your precious gold coins…
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,