Review – Sail

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Designer Akiyama Koryo, Kozu Yusei

Artist Weberson Santiago

Publisher Allplay

Category Trick-Taking, Cooperative, Two-Player

Length 20-40 minutes

Release Date 2023

Player Count 2

Price $20 MSRP

One of the best things about the past decade of board gaming has been designers’ willingness to twist genres. Can a trick-taking game be cooperative? Yes, check out The Crew! Can a trick-taking game be made for only two players? Yes; The Fox in the Forest! Can you make a cooperative, trick-taking game for just two players? Yes! Here we have Sail from designers Akiyama Koryo and Kozu Yusei and publisher Allplay. Let’s see if it works!

The hook of Sail is that it’s a two-player, cooperative, trick-taking game. The only other game I know of in this category is Fox in the Forest Duet. It plays like you’d expect: you’re simply playing two-card tricks back and forth, but are not allowed to talk during this portion. Does that actually work? Yes! Surprisingly, it works rather well. A key part of it is gambling on what’s in the other player’s hand vs. remaining in the deck, and hoping for the right card combinations to keep the players alive as they sail towards the end of the journey. It has the same vibe as The Crew, but for two players.

But here’s the difference: The Crew is a much cleaner, simpler game to understand, and yet more engaging. I was very disappointed with both the rulebook and the components of Sail. Allplay has a penchant for extremely short, terse rulebooks, and it took us far too long to be able to interpret how the Kraken Deck worked, because of the lack of examples and poor precision in the rulebook. The cards themselves are two-toned, with a colored background and a different color (per back) for the numbers and icons. The game then references the icon colors as the “suit” of the card rather than the background color, which is very counterintuitive. We found ourselves having to reference the rulebook and player aids and even Google far too often, for not enough payoff. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the art or the box size, either. I enjoy Weberson Santiago’s style, but here the game just feels too dark and muddy. 

Sail is a perfectly fine game, it’s even good, I’d say, but it’s not worth the investment. For a cooperative trick-taking game, nothing is going to beat The Crew anytime soon. For a cooperative two-player game, I would look at Sky Team. But after playing this with a friend a few times, I realized that I had zero interest in putting that much effort into teaching the game to anyone else, and it was not enough for us to keep at it over other options. 

The Bottom Line

Sail is good, but there are better games out there with lower investment.

 

6

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Author: Derek Thompson


I’ve been a board game reviewer on Geeks Under Grace since 2011. I love card-driven games and party games. I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics and teach the subject at Taylor University in Upland, IN. My wife and kids are my favorite gaming partners.