Key Largo

Searching for gold in the oceans is something many of us dream of doing, while few of us actually follow up on it. Key Largo is a game that allows players to simulate this in a silly, entertaining way. Players take turns simultaneously selecting what their divers are going to do during the ten day timeline of the game. Divers can purchase equipment, earn cash by taking tourists out to see the dolphins, dive for treasure, sell treasures, or hang out at the local tavern. Each of these actions is affected by the number of players who partake in them; for example, if two players both go to the store to buy equipment, the prices are higher. This adds an element of guessing and interaction to the game that keeps players intrigued with their opponent’s choices.

Diving for treasure requires equipment, but divers must also beware of random monsters that may appear. Preparing to fight the monsters takes time and money, but a player attempting to skirt the costs may find themselves looking for a new diver! Players only have a few choices to make each turn, but everything fits into a nice, thematic framework that makes complete sense. The illustrations are outrageously ridiculous, the components are of high quality, and the development of the game keeps things moving at a quick clip.

The game offers a nice variety of strategic choices, but it really shines as a family game. Children will delight in searching through the stacks of cards for treasure, and watching their parents get gobbled by a monster (a large octopus). Outguessing opponents, trying to maximize one’s money, and simply laughing at the funny pictures make Key Largo a tremendous family activity. Younger players will learn how to count money and how to make a profit when selling, although they may need some help with the mathematics. At the same time, they can remain competitive with their parents due to the vagaries of treasure finding. This treasure hunting is a great draw to the game and is one that will appeal to many new gamers.

A game that looks more complicated than it is, with a ton of Major FUN packed in the box, Key Largo is a great choice for casual gaming, with stunning components and simple, laughing game play. I’ll be diving for treasure in Key Largo for quite some time – it might very well be one of the best games of 2008.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games”
The Dice Tower

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