Key Largo is a game notable for a sad reason.
The game was created by Paul Randles, best known for the earlier game Pirate’s Cove. Key Largo was the designer’s final game before passing away in 2003 of pancreatic cancer.
The game was further developed by Mike Selinker and Bruno Faidutti, and was initially released by Tilsit Editions in French, German, and Italian in 2005. Titanic Games made it available in English for the first time, with an all-new graphic design and pieces, with Paizo Publishing now involved as well.
Key Largo has a fun theme as far as games go. Players basically travel around the Florida Keys in 1899, seeking out treasures in shipwrecks around the island. Before a hurricane hits, players need to search the many shipwrecks and sell the lost treasures to the island denizens for as much cash as possible.
Sounds like a fun little idea.
And, for the most part it kind of works too.
The game board is functional for this game designed for three to five players, although it does remind me of a board designed more your younger kids, than for adult gamers.
The playing pieces are large, colourful sailing ships, which is both a nice touch, and are easily identifiable and moved on the play area.
The rest of the pieces, such as divers, hoses, tridents, and weights, are just thick cardboard punch-outs. They work, but are not particularly special.
The game does rely heavily on cards, with action and treasure decks an integral part of the game. Here the art work is very good, using a sort of whimsical pirate style.
The game also has paper money. I’ve never been a fan of games using paper money. The bookkeeping aspect detracts from the game for me.
The rules are well laid out with a few ‘art’ pieces thrown in for colour, using the same nice art style from the cards.
The action cards of course let you as a player do certain things, ranging from taking tourists out to ‘go dolphin watching’ to heading to the tavern, or shopping for equipment.
Treasure cards, well those are pretty straight forward.
The game is played over a finite series of turns, with the winner being the one with the most money.
Key Largo settles out being a wealth building game, with that wealth derived from the luck of the draw of cards, plus some added influence about how you use the resources you have.
This is not a particularly deep and involved game. It’s light. It has some fun to it, although it isn’t a game that will come to mind to be the first game played. You aren’t likely to complain about having to play a game on occasion, but you won’t be begging for a game either.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Dec 23, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada