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Die Goldinsel (or Cartagena: Die Goldinsel to give its full name) is a boardgame from the Cartagena Series of games. Its a pirate themed game and it doesn’t matter, in my opinion, if you haven’t played the previous games. The description of the game (taken from boardgamegeek as the game itself is in German) is “After escaping the fortress of Cartagena and their return to the Pirates Nest, the pirates’ search for Treasure Island starts. Players are pirate captains and try to get together a new crew of pirates, gather Island cards and acquire digging rights before setting sail to Treasure Island.” and really you could take the theme as just the last sentence.

The game board

Each player has a captain and a ship piece, the captains start at the lighthouse space on Crows Nest Island (CNI) and the ships in the harbour. You each have a set of digging permits (numbered 1-6 with another numbered 7 on the furthest island), of which you start with one, chosen at random, the rest placed at the centre of CNI. There are a set of island cards (one for each of the islands that have treasure on), one of which has been chosen as the Treasure Island, of which each player starts with one and the rest in a pile, and you each get a deck of pirate action cards.

This game is, in part, a memory game – you need to try and look at most of the island cards to find out which aren’t the Treasure Island, because you cannot win unless you have dug on that island! that is quite important. You have a hand of four pirate action cards and can use one to move (you can then optionally use the action element on a second card) and afterwards you draw back up to four. So you start the game moving around CNI which has a circular track comprising of spaces that allow you to: pick an island card; pick up a digging permit; get a pirate crew of the specified colour on that space (your ship can only hold 3 though); or gamble (turn over the top pirate action card of your deck and if it shows a poker symbol get a pirate and a permit!). If you land on same space as another captain and you have a card with a robbery action on you may steal one (or two) of their island cards. So it is a memory game as you won’t hold onto the island cards but need to know what you’ve seen to ensure you cover the Treasure Island in your digs.

In our three player game Mike was first off the island, with all his permits and collecting his seventh. If you’ve seen five island cards, you can place on the other seven. Jon was next off and I was last, mainly because I hadn’t got enough permits by the time Mike set sail. By the time I managed to get five permits, enough I thought to go and get digging, I’d seen eight cards, so it did mean I could concentrate on going to the other four.

To dig on an island you need to move your boat there, play a second card that depicts allowing you to place pirates on the island as your action, place the pirate of the colour specified on the island or any two, and then place one of your digging permits.  Mike had picked up the Relic card that allowed him to use any colour pirate so could happily go digging, Jon had to go back to CNI as Mike had been the only player to pick up a black pirate. When you arrived at an island that already had pirate(s) on (from another player placing their digging permit) if you have a card that allows you to pick up one or two pirates then you can play that and collect pirates. So you can travel to an island one turn place pirate and dig, next turn go to another island and pick up a pirate, etc, so long as you had the cards. It was even possible to leave the island you’d just dug on and go a circular route (cannot use the same lane twice in the same turn) and pick them back up!

When one player has placed their last digging permit, everyone else gets a single go and then scoring happens. Treasure where no one has dug gets removed from the game, and that where only one player has dug gets given to that player. For everywhere else the permits are turned over and the highest value wins it, in case of ties the tying player who placed their permit first wins. The treasure island card is turned over and whoever won on that island takes the bonus 3 gold. Everyone totals their gold (including the value of a relic card if they got one), and of the players who dug on Treasure Island, the one with the highest gold total wins. In our game, Jon had the highest gold but had not dug on the Treasure Island, so I won :-). Not really sure how, though I guess placing less digging permits but of higher value could be it, though that’s highly dependent on what other people place (my 6 went up against Mike’s 7 bonus).