World of Yo-Ho; a game for (OK, with) suckers
Welcome to the World of Yo-Ho! An interesting place full of piratey cheer, pantaloons, swashbuckling and quite possibly the biggest division of the board gaming world in front of it… World of Yo-Ho is a board game… or is it? In the box you get the least amount of components I have ever seen in a game weighing in heavier than any micro game.
In the box you get: 8 cards, 8 ship tokens you can use, 8 player identifying “suckers” (What?! They’re small tokens with suckers on the bottom… I’m not really sure what to call them so suckers sounds about right) and a monster of a board. The board is a mammoth 80×90 cm so likely not really designed for a small playing space. The reason you receive no more is because the rest of your world of yo-ho shouting, rum chugging, shanty singing time on the open sea is spent in augmented reality on your smartphone.
Being squishy has never had such an advantage
First you need to download the World of Yo-Ho app from the app store as your phone is used as your pawn on The Behemoth (my term of endearment for the board) in World of Yo-Ho. It teaches you how to play, what the rules are and also plays you some awesome, epic, piratey sounding background music. You all get to choose your captain first and you have a choice of a Parrot, a Walrus, a Shark and a Pelican. They all have disadvantages in the World of Yo-Ho as you’d expect. The Parrot has a big mouth and as such cannot leave a port incognito (you can pay to leave a port incognito which means if someone else docks there, they cannot see what missions you have undertaken or what you have been buying.), the Walrus is; well a Walrus and has to rest more often than anyone else. Even having a truly awesome moustache doesn’t make up for having to nap so much. The Shark is true to it’s very nature and if you can attack an enemy, you have to. Lastly, is the Pelican. The Pelican is that person we all know which love themselves that little too much. Because the Pelican finds himself irresistible he is limited to what kind of captain attire he can wear. None of that lowly high street stuff for him don’t you know.
The order in which the captain was chosen will be reversed for choosing a ship so if you got the last captain, you get the first ship. In world of yo-ho, the choice of ships you have are the Whale, the Jellyfish (which might just have the best looking game accessory I have ever seen), the Turtle and the Swordfish. So, whilst all of the captains have disadvantages, the ships offer you some advantages to try and make up for their “personal issues”. The Whale can change it’s flag before the start of a fight if it’s attacked changing the amount of attack rounds from 3 to 5 during a fight, the Jellyfish reduces damage which is inflicted on you by 1 point due to it “being squishy”. The Turtle can allow you to cross an island with no penalty and start on the other side and the Swordfish will automatically inflict damage to the opposing player when you board their ship.
There be monsters in them waters
Once you have set up the World of Yo-Ho and The Behemoth you will need to all be on the same Wi-Fi network and start the game at the same time. Once the 2-4 players have joined the game then the phone will tell you to place it on the board somewhere and will give you choices for any corner which currently has no occupants. All of the squares are cross referenced in letters and numbers so it’s easy to work out where you’re supposed to be should the need arise. You then all get to agree on the stipulations for winning the game. For the couple of games that I have played we had it set to finish at 400 swag points, but you can change it to 700 or 1500 swag points to increase the length of play time.
Once you’re all comfy in your own corner of the world of yo-ho on the board then it will take you in to port and explain what the different menus will do when you’re navigating them. There are 12 different ports in World of Yo-Ho and each of them has the same 4 places to visit. These are: The Barracks, the Tavern, The Market and the Shipyard. The barracks are used to pick up your missions to set you off on your piratey travels but will also reward you with swag points and clams for completion depending on the difficulty. Clams are the currency used in game for purchasing upgrades. Some of the missions will be themed pick up and deliver quests while some will be “Show the other player who’s boss by turn x” missions. The shipyard will repair your ship if you’re damaged while you’re off plundering, and the market will give you options to upgrade your captain or ship and also give you one use items you can equip in sea battle. Lastly, the tavern is used to keep tabs on the other players as at any point as otherwise you have no idea how well they’re doing, unless like the Parrot captain they can’t keep their bragging to themselves.
You have 2 actions to use per turn and a visit to the port will cost you one action. However, you can do as many things as you like while you’re there. Other actions you can use could be to move or attack. Attacks may not be limited to attacking your fellow captains either as there are nice surprises lurking in the sea for the unsuspecting traveller on the waves. Whilst minding my own business (OK with a small amount of plundering thrown in) I was accosted by first a Kraken like sea monster and then a dragon later on. It was not a good day to be Captain Sharky. Still, I managed to get through both of my scrapes unscathed. When facing adversaries such as the sea monster or dragon you have to go back to their lair and attack them several times to actually kill them. Since I had only played a couple of times I erred on the side of caution and gave them a wide berth. Next time you’re mine though Kraken!
Your booty be mine land lubber!
When going into battle against another person or a monster in world of yo-ho, your attack value also counts as a defense value for the opposing player. So, if your attack is 5 this will be added as an extra defense for the other player. During the battle it will generally take place in 3 stages unless you’re hoisting a jolly roger black flag in which case it will be 5 rounds. At this point, you get to choose to add any weapons to your ship or piratey personage in case you board the ship and get into melee combat. This will then go through the rounds and compare attack and defense and pronounce a winner accordingly.
There are also random encounters in the world of yo-ho for you to stumble upon. Some that I have come across have been sunken ships to be plunderin’, barrels o’ stuff and of course the dreaded sea monsters. I have been reliably informed that if you manage to kill of one of the deep sea beasties, that you’re rewarded with a few chests of treasure for your efforts, and a serious amount of swag points. After all, killing deep sea beasties is a feat worth bragging about!
So, are you for cardboard or circuit board?
So why is world of yo-ho likely to cause division in the community? Well, technology in board gaming has always been a touchy subject among gamers. Some people are purists and want nothing but wood and card while others are trying to move forward with the times. For me personally, I think that so long as it is used well (like the app which is used instead of a game master in Alchemists) then I am all for it, as it enriches the experience and stops someone being bored out of their skull working things out manually. It also sets World of Yo-Ho apart from just about all other games on the market.
I really enjoyed World of Yo-Ho and the integration of the mobile app into it; mostly because of it’s simplicity and how seamless it feels to use. Also, I think world of Yo-Ho is for anyone who’s a lover of pirate type games, technology and wholesome family fun gaming. Clearly it’s something which is not going to be for everyone, but it’s good, wholesome and harmless fun. World of Yo-Ho is aimed at gamers aged 8+ and I’d say that this is a fair representation of it. My 6 year old gave it a go, but didn’t have the interest in reading all of the information on how to play and suffered because of it. He had no idea what was going on most of the time. I’d also say that it is best played with 4 players since it gives you more opportunity for conflict if you want it, or being able to avoid each other and quest away if you wish. It doesn’t mean you won’t be accosted by the odd dragon though, but once you know where they are, they’re easily avoided.
I have had cause to think about what World of Yo-Ho gives you for your money as this is not a game chock full of little pieces which for some equates to value in a game. However, for me a board game is all about a couple of hours of escapism and also the joy of the interaction that it brings about with the other players. With that in mind I think this is well worth the purchase. I managed to get my teenage daughter to take an interest and ask to play it more than once because she could use her mobile phone with it. This alone would have been worth the money. I get the impression it will see a lot of table time when she is around.
I think World of Yo-Ho is well worth checking out and if you feel it could be for you, then check it out at your friendly local game shop:
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I am just a regular guy that fell into board gaming. That's why I am no longer allowed in my local Toys R Us. I'm a huge fan of deckbuilding games and games with unusual themes or mechanics. OK, maybe I'm not that regular after all.