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.
This game has some interesting ideas. However, I found it somewhat frustrating and less fun that I hoped. I felt very powerful in some ways but handcuffed in others. Plus the game is very long. I kept thinking I could have played two games of Chaos in the Old World instead. However, this may be more a reflection of my personal preferences than the game itself, as it is a pretty good design. I do like the way the game accelerates right up until the end. It just lacks the fun factor for me.
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.
First order of business: before you even touch the cards, sleeve them. I know that is not possible, but try. They come new with some of he edges chipped already, and in this game it is critical to not mark the cards. Mayday purple sleeves fit very tightly, so I actually went with Mayday Premium Orange sleeves so the cards wouldn't bow.
With that out of the way, I have to say this is a very nicely designed game. I think it is the game I wished Panic Station was. However, this is a game where all the players need to internalize the rules before it can shine, so plan for a practice game or two before you get to the good stuff. Fortunately, the game is quick so repeat play isn't hard to do.