I am the walrus
One of the best things about ordering board games via Kickstarter is that you’ll occasionally have packages delivered to your door with no memory of what it was you ordered. One such incident happened last Friday, the contents of which happened to be a game I don’t even remember ordering, World of Yo-Ho. I first saw World of Yo-Ho at Gen Con 2014 and didn’t hear much about it after that. Oddly, it was nowhere to be found at Gen Con 2015, leading me to think that it had been shelved. Considering that it was unlike anything we’d seen before, the thought of it being shelved wasn’t a huge surprise. I now own a copy, so it not only didn’t get shelved, but they managed to make a pretty good game out of the whole thing.
World of Yo-Ho is another cardboard game that uses an app. Unlike other games that have gone this route, XCOM and Alchemists come to mind, the app isn’t something that you have next to the game board and use as a sort of companion to the actual game. No, in World of Yo-Ho, your phone actually becomes your playing piece. The game consists of a huge 2-piece board depicting a fictional archipelago and it’s broken up into 60 phone-sized rectangles. Your phone sits in one of these rectangles and brings the game board to life. It’s a pirate-themed game, so your phone shows your ship, but it also shows the game board beneath your phone. Waves move, clouds float by, and gulls flap overhead. Putting your phone down for the first time is a definite “wow” moment that’s only surpassed when you interact with someone else’s ship. Battles will cause cannonballs and shot to soar between different phones, and close combat will cause your ship to leave your phone and sail over to your opponent’s where the battle is completed.
The game can be played for points or in a campaign-mode. If the former, you can select how many points you want to play to: 400, 700, or 2000. We’ve played a handful of 400 point games which range anywhere from 20-40 minutes once you get the hang of everything. We have yet to try the campaign mode.
Points are earned by completing missions which you can pick up in ports around the board. The missions are pretty basic fetch-type quests which will have you looking for objects around the map or taking passengers to specific ports. You can also get bounty quests to take out your opponents in battle, usually before they complete a mission. There are also timed quests which seem to pay out the most loot and points, but are hard to pull off due to random events that can happen such as storms and monster attacks. Yep, you can get ambushed by the Kraken and, if you choose, actually take it on in combat.
I’ve only had a few plays so far, but my kids absolutely love the game and, to be honest, I think that’s who this game is made for. The pirates are all animals and your ships ride on the backs of giant sea creatures, which gives everything a less-than-realistic vibe. That said, there’s some meat here. Ports are filled with different items to load in your holds and I seem to find new things each game. Also, combat is a card-based affair in which you play cards in secret and then let the battle commence.
It’s not perfect, port visits can be a bit long while one player stares at his phone and rifles through the merchant’s wares and we’ve had one disconnection right in the middle of combat. That said, I’m having a really good time so far with the game and it’s great to have a game on the table that the kids are actually excited to play. The game’s app is for both iOS and Android and is free to download, but there’s not much you can do with it without the box.
Want to see it in motion? Check out the trailer after the break. It’s an old trailer and some of the graphics have changed, but you’ll get a good idea of what the hell I’m talking about.