Over the christmas holidays I went to Prague with a friend, and as has become somewhat of a tradition I brought home a couple of games as souvenirs. One of them was Pescado from Steffen-Spiele. The rules were in German, but there is no in-game text and I thought the game that the store had open on the table looked pretty so I took a chance. That chance paid off as it turned out to be a lovely little game of rolling dice and claiming tiles from a pool of beautiful stylised fish.
The game is really simple. You (together with 1 to 3 others) are a fisherman, casting your net into the sea to see what you can catch. But you also sneak a peek at the fisherman next to you and sometimes you might even be able to steal a fish or two from their haul. So how is this done? Each turn 6 tiles with fish on them are laid out to form a pool, with the rest left face down in stacks to the side. The player rolls the five white dice and take whatever tiles match the colours of the fish on her dice. Sometimes none match! Then she has a second roll for which she can “buy” one or both of the extra grey dice if she wants. Each grey dice “costs” the chance to get two of the tiles in the pool or steal tiles from the previous player (more on that later). You pay by flipping those tiles face down, and then you roll again. You can keep the result of some of the dice from your first roll to increase your chances to catch the remaining tiles. Then it’s the next player’s turn. The game ends when the pool can’t be restocked with six tiles.
What about that sneaky stealing then? Well, the pool you can fish from also extends to the tiles taken during the previous turn. And as I mentioned, these tiles can also be used to “buy” the grey dice. Tiles that have been stolen are safe and can not be stolen again. The same goes for any tiles that were not stolen. Basically a tile is “in play” for two turns (not counting the ones that stay in the pool of course).
There are three different type of tiles. Each come with three fish – either all differently coloured, two matching, or all three matching. They are worth one, two, and three points respectively so you want to aim for the tiles with three matching fish. Once the game is over you simply tally your points!
Now, there is one additional rule that shakes up the gameplay a bit: the snatch round. If you roll three or more fish of the same colour with your white dice during the first roll it’s free for all to claim any matching fish. You do so by placing your finger on one or more tiles you think match. If you’re first and you’re right you get those tiles and they are safe (no one can steal them on the next turn). If you picked a tile that doesn’t actually match you have to put a tile you previously won of the same value back onto the stack that will refill the pool. Bummer. If none of the tiles match the dice are rolled again until someone manages to snatch a tile. The pool is then restocked and the player who triggered the snatch round gets to take her normal two turns, without any snatch round getting triggered again even if she rolls three of the same colour. The snatch round can never be triggered during the second roll. The first time I played the game I did so with my parents. They are not gamers, and they definitely do not want to play anything that requires being quick. So we played it without this so called “snatch rule” and that worked fine too. They actually really enjoyed the game, and got nicely competitive trying to steal from each other, so it’s definitely the kind of game you can play with reluctant non-gamers as well as children (who might enjoy the snatch round though!)
All in all it is a beautiful and simple game with great component quality. The tiles have a nice thickness and the dice are good wooden ones. Make sure you play the game under decent lighting though, as it might be hard to differentiate between the red and orange fish under certain conditions. It works great with two players, as well as three. I have not played it with four players yet but I can’t imagine it being any different. The box is pretty big in relation to the contents, and the cloth bag you get for the dice could’ve been half the size (or large enough to fit all the tiles). So it’s not a game you slip in your purse or backpack just in case a gaming opportunity arises during the day, but it is possible to make it more compact and portable with a box of your own making.
- Title: Pescado
- Designer: Steffen Benndorf
- Publisher: Steffen-Spiele
- Players: 2-4
- Time: ~ 30 min
- Type: dice
- Size: smallish
- Release year: 2012