I've been considering this one for a while. When the new Baker's Dozen version came out, I finally jumped on it. I've got plenty of games about witches and potions, but not nearly enough about food!
I think I like the variant where you deal out all the cards right at the beginning.
UPDATE AFTER SOME PLAYS: I feels a lot like a cross between Category 5 and Coloretto. It may be slightly easier to explain that those (admittedly already pretty easy) games, but I think that overall I would rather play one of those than this. However, the people I've played it with seemed to really like it. My kids especially enjoy it.
Black Gold is a fun design coupled with a very nice production. Each round consists of a series of market fluctuation, action card draft, board movement, investment, and auction, and it all meshes and flows quite well. The bidding can be especially vicious because winner-take-all situations are common. Timing of when to go for a big score is critical, because mistakes can be punishing. Assuming your family can handle that, this is a good family game.
Drawbacks are the game feels like it runs a bit long, largely because the rounds are fairly repetitive. If I could have only one oil-themed economic game, it would be Crude, but it would be painful to let Black Gold go. Black Gold also reminds me of Owner's Choice, a lighter game wrapped around a similar market fluctuation mechanism.
It took some thinking, but for now I believe I will be keeping this game. Given my tendency to purge a game that does not meet a very standard, that is high praise indeed. I will be curious to see how this holds up after some more plays, as I can imagine my opinion going either up or down with experience.
A great distillation of Pandemic down to a more kid and family friendly format. Great components! Not nearly as interesting to me as Pandemic, but I give it points for being easier to get to the table with casual gamers.
Great game - one of my favorite Knizia auction games, second only to Ra. Medici has the advantage of being easier to explain than Ra. However, Medici feels somewhat lucky with only 3 players, making Ra especially preferred with that number. Medici is overall an excellent game, but the Rio Grande edition is U-G-L-Y and it's hard to correlate the goods pyramids with the cards.
UPDATE on the new Rio Grande 2006 edition: Thank goodness. Finally, a version of Medici that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out. I also like the change to tiles instead of cards. If only the little sacks actually fit on the pyramid steps, I would finally be satisfied with the production.
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.
I think I like the idea of this game more than I enjoy it in practice. I think my issue is that the incentive system for bluffing seems to be off. I will try to sneak things through because hee-hee I'm being sneaky, but I don't know that the game mechanisms really encourage that properly. I think it works better if you are making deals with the Sheriff, but even then there are better dealmaking games. I think Coup does a better job of creating a good framework for bluffing.