Yeah, we probably played it wrong, but if that's the case, the mechanisms shouldn't make it so easy to play wrong. We couldn't see how the factory and harbor goods could ever move much out of their lowest-priced spots.
I think my tolerance for games based completely on luck is diminishing, even when the theme is great. For me, if a game is going to be this light strategy-wise it also has to be fiddle-free, and there's a bit of fiddliness here with the card texts and figuring out couterattacks.
This game has some good ideas. I especially liked the way that players must switch to an entirely different engine in order to cross the mountains. That was very nicely thematic.
However, the game design goes out of its way to make it difficult to accomplish anything. L&C needs a few fewer mechanisms and a bit more player interaction. I want my battle to be with the other players, not the game design itself. As it stands, this game just grinds my mental gears in a way I find unpleasant.
This was my first exposure to the rondel. I liked the rondel mechanism itself, but the rest of the game didn't do much for me, even though on the face of it this game does some things that usually appeal to me, such as market economies. However, this game has a lot of "bad Euro" characteristics, the most severe of which in my opinion is that there is a lotta math here, and it's bad math because you actually have to work it out turn to turn. You (or and least I) can't just make an intuitive play and be confident the scoring will reward that choice.
I also, in principle, like the idea of multiple scoring paths, so that players can do entirely different things and be competitive. However, here this is done in an unexciting way. This isn't the first recent Euro in which I felt that everything was oh so carefully balanced that it didn't really matter what I did, as long as I did it efficiently and kept up with the math to make sure to squeeze out every last point. Yeech.
Overall, this game was a tedious experience for me and I have little desire to replay it. The board is gorgeous though.
Seems like a nice 2-player challenge, but so far it strikes me as highly dependent on your pawn draw. I think it might be better if there were more cards that let you alter the center spectrum. The cards that let you swap pawns with the other side tend to just get used in succession by both players until one person runs out. Also, I think "Spectrum" would have been a much cooler name for this game
There's a lot of things going on at once with this game, but they're all manageable, and I enjoy this game very much.
UPDATE Nov 2014: I just played this game for the first time in 8 years, and I have to say I think it's been replaced in nearly every way (thematically, mechanistically) by Jamaica. One player will probably get knocked out of a game of Pirate's Cove very early on, and that may be frustrating for them. However, my kids liked it, and it still looks great,
UPDATE Jan 2016: I don't like this game. I don't enjoy the battles, win or lose. It is no fun to lose a turn or to make others lose their turns.
Played with both 3 and 5, and neither time did I feel I had much control at all. You can do a lot of thinking on your turn, but the outcome seems largely random. I'm very disappointed, as I was really looking forward to this one. Maybe I just don't get it though.
Tried this one quite a few times, as it seems to be liked by many, but we just didn't care for it. It seems as though you are very much at the mercy of card draws and die rolls. In Jambo, for example, I think you can make due with whatever cards you draw, and if you can't, then that difficulty feels like a fair part of the game (you gambled and lost). In Roma, I usually feel that one player gets trapped due to nothing more than bad luck, and then can't do much to get out of the hole. The game is very fast, which is usually a plus, but the game ends before you can develop your strategy.
UPDATE: After some more plays, I continue to be frustrated by the randomness and lack of even pacing. There's a lot of cool ideas here, but all too often the game is over before anything interesting can develop. I've often seen losses that were apparently unavoidable given the die rolls and card draws. Dropped rating to a 4 and traded the game.
I dislike the way you have almost no control over most phases of the game - you just mechanically play your cards without having any choices to make. It just made me want to play real poker, as if I was being allowed to lick a pizza but not eat it. On the other hand, it's a good game to play if you don't want to bother your brain with thinking and stuff.