Dead Men Tell No Tales

Dead Men Tell No Tales cover

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a cooperative game for 2-5 players. The goal of the game is pretty simple, get the appropriate number of treasure chests off the ship (based on number of players and difficulty chosen) as well as all your players before the ship blows up or the exit(s) become obstructed. Beware, this isn't as easy as it sounds. There are multiple ways you can die! You must be on your toes and never rush or bad things are sure to happen!

Your turn is broken into 3 phases. In the first phase, you will "search the ship". Since DMTNT is a tile-laying board system, the search consists of laying a tile (except on your first turn when you'll lay two), laying a die on the tile to indicate how hot the fire is in that room, drawing a token out of a felt bag to place on the tile, and finally, perform any action that token may indicate. (For example, if you draw a trapdoor, you must put a deckhand on the tile as well). The second phase, you perform up to 5 actions (you can pass unused actions to the next player but if that player does not use them, they must return them to you). These actions include killing deckhands, lowering fire levels, walking, running, resting, and increasing your battle strength as well as exchanging and using items. Once your turn is over, it is the ship's turn in phase 3. You will draw a Skelit's Revenge card which could raise the fire level in some rooms, march the Skeleton Crew closer to you, or add/spread deckhands!

How to Win: As described above, there is only one way to win in DMTNT, get the appropriate number of chests off the ship (they call this looting) along with all of the players, before all the bad stuff happens (detailed in the How to Lose section below). 

How to Lose: There are multiple ways to lose in DMTNT. 

  1. All exits become obstructed
  2. Run out of deckhands to put on tiles when needed
  3. Too much treasure blows up or is otherwise lost.
  4. No more characters left when the one you are play dies.
  5. Too many explosions occur.

In addition to ways to lose, your character can die by become exhausted, or blowing up in an explosion. This causes you to lose any items, treasure, etc that character has and the player must draw another.

My Review: This game is a very stressful but fun game! If you like cooperative games, this hard to find gem is well worth the time and money spent. I tell everyone the game is like a combination of Betrayal at the House on the Hill (for the tile laying and unknown effects elements) meets Flash Point Fire Rescue (for the simmering death around every corner element and the shared actions ability). Though so far, I've only played with two players, it is beatable with two (without modifying the rules), The biggest key is patience. You cannot move to fast or two slow in order to win!

Make sure you pay attention to the special skill of your character as well as all the items. These can be a great help in your quest.

Overall Ratings:

Instructions: 9/10 I did have to review these early on for how things work, but once you get everything in your mind, it is all pretty clear.

Ease of Play: 7/10 There is a lot to remember in this game, from Powder Keg explosions to the spreading of deckhands. It may take a bit to get the hang of it, but it is well worth the "practice plays".

Components: 8/10 All components are pretty high quality except the string on the felt bag. This consistently comes untied (in the first two plays it came untied three times). I'm not sure why they didn't just make it one string! Also, if you set up the game the way the instructions show, there are some missing doors. There are two solutions. You can either make a house rule regarding doors or change the order of the starting tiles.

Replay Value: 10/10 This game should never be the same game twice!

Overall Rating: 8.50