Preview: Return to Davy Jones' Locker in Curse of the Ghost Ships | Casual Game Revolution

Preview: Return to Davy Jones' Locker in Curse of the Ghost Ships

Davy Jones' Locker: Curse of the Ghost Ships

In Curse of the Ghost Ships, the expansion for Davy Jones’ Locker: The Kraken Wakes, players embark on a challenging nautical adventure against the Banshee and her ghostly armada. The game introduces new components, mechanics, and increased difficulty levels, making it a thrilling addition for seasoned players seeking a deeper challenge and immersion within the game's collaborative and strategic world.

Published by PudKat Games, this expansion is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. We were sent a prototype of the base game and expansion for this preview.

Davy Jones' Locker: Curse of the Ghost Ships components

Game image provided by the publisher.


In the base game, Davy Jones’ Locker: The Kraken Wakes, players cooperatively sail across the map to shop, plunder, and explore. These actions allow players the chance to sail the high seas, uncover treasure, and face a swath of enemies and obstacles to better their ships. Each ship is different, with a specific emphasis toward defense, sailing distance, or the ability to become an offense juggernaut.

Players will want to communicate and collaborate as they improve their ships in preparation for a final face-off with the legendary Kraken. As they improve their ships through one of four traits (which also function as modifiers for dice roll checks during the course of the game), they may also uncover modifiers that make facing the Kraken and its tangling tentacles a fiercer battle in the game’s second act.

Curse of the Ghost Ships, the first expansion for Davy Jones’ Locker, doesn’t stray far from the base game. But with a host of new cards and a new adventure against the Banshee and its armada of ghost ships, the game does ratchet up its difficulty without leaving blossoming buccaneers totally behind. Setup is slightly different, with the addition of portal tiles, the Phantom Island Board, the Ghost Ships (and tokens) and their board, as well as the Banshee Board. Haunt cards will be added to the Open Sea Deck and Cursed Gold will be added into the bag with regular Gold coins.

Like the base game’s two acts, players will be sailing across the map to strengthen their ships by visiting docks, searching for treasure, and bettering their equipment in preparation to face the Banshee during Act 1. They’ll also be searching for cursed gold to return to the treasure chest to rid it of its nasty curse. But the longer players take to corral the gold while betting their vessels, they’ll be strengthening the Banshee and the ghost ships for Act 2’s boss battle. It will be up to players to decide who does what and when, because lingering for too long will make the final fight a battle to remember — perhaps one where ships are torn asunder, and the game (and all that booty) is lost.

This is due to the new Haunt phase, which is the first phase players will now engage in during Curse of the Ghost Ship. If players have drawn cursed gold and have yet to deposit it at Phantom Island players will lose 1 Integrity, which acts as a player's life counter. Once cursed gold is deposited at Phantom Island, the player is free from the ghost ship tracking it. Players will then draw an event card as part of the Event phase, taking the effect for the round or gaining insight into any modifiers that will aid the Banshee during the battle in Act 2.

Phantom Island is central to the new actions players can take during the third phase, which is the player’s turns. The Drop action allows players to deposit cursed gold and be free from any ships haunting them. This is also necessary to trigger the start of Act 2 in a timely manner. The second new action involves Searching Phantom Island to gain treasure. The further you delve into one of the island’s three biomes, the better the loot! But doing so will require more and more draws from the Search deck, which could cause players to gain Curse cards. If you keep pushing and continue to advance, you will draw from the Spectral Deck and may gain treasures that will greatly assist in the battle with the Banshee.

Once the correct amount of cursed gold has been deposited at Phantom Island (dependent on the number of players), Act 2 may begin if players decide they are ready to tackle the Banshee, and it's advantageous to deposit all the gold to ensure the Banshee begins at Soul Level 4 (rather than Soul Level 5), giving players one less potential hurdle. Act 2 may also be triggered by the Event deck running out.

The board is flipped, same as The Kraken Wakes (but with The Banshee now taking the Kraken’s place), but this time players will be using and flipping Phantom Island. The Banshee’s actions differ a bit from the Kraken’s, especially in being able to teleport but also in how players will be using the Banshee’s board to siphon its power. The Ghost Ships will also work similarly to the Kraken’s tentacles in The Kraken Wakes, so players must be careful to defeat them. Not doing so before defeating the Banshee can cause the Banshee to reappear with 5 souls! Players must duke it out again to defeat what’s left of the Ghost Ships before besting the Banshee prior to the Banshee deck running out.

Players can potentially send their deckhands back to Phantom Island to collect Grimoire tiles, which provide extra ways to heal, defeat Ghost Ships, and create just as much chaos toward victory as the Banshee and Ghost Ships do.

To defeat the Banshee, players need to deplete all its Soul Levels. To do this, players must be adjacent to the Banshee and use a Spectral Card. The Banshee board will show (based on player count) what must be rolled to successfully siphon the Banshee’s power during that action, lowering the Banshee’s soul dials down until the Banshee is defeated. Disadvantages, such as taking on too many curse cards during both acts, can also cause players to attack each other in this battle to the end. The game ends in a player victory when the Ghost Ships and the Banshees are defeated, and in player defeat if the Banshee is not defeated before the Banshee deck runs out.

Davy Jones' Locker: Curse of the Ghost Ships Banshee board

Banshee board - image provided by the publisher.


Curse of the Ghost Ships adds a lot to Davy Jones’ Locker from the get-go, with many of the components being transferable between the Kraken and Banshee scenarios. The expansion also includes a new ship (the Leatherback) which has its own powers and miniature, as well as new miniatures for the Banshee and the Ghost Ships.

The expansion retains its interactive and collaborative manner but also increases the difficulty, mechanism, and foresight necessary to defeat the Banshee and its Ghost Ships. The addition of the Phantom Island board as well as the Siphon mechanic takes some getting used to, especially in the heat of simulated battle. Curse of the Ghost Ships is not an entry point for anyone’s first time playing Davy Jones’ Locker, but as a means of giving the game some immediate life and a definite spike to difficulty, it more than succeeds.

Overall, the presentation of Curse of the Ghost Ships really adds to the theme without introducing too many new components to the point of feeling overwhelming. However, it is important to note that some of the new actions and ideas at work in this expansion will take some getting used to, even for the most experienced Davy Jones’ Locker players and groups. But that’s a good thing, and ultimately the depth of the challenge is where this succeeds. For new players who are up to the challenge of learning the expansion, this is still a solid entry point if you like cooperative plotting and strategizing around a table in preparation for a big boss battle with cards and dice chucking.

If you're ready to battle it out on the high seas, be sure to check out Davy Jones' Locker: Curse of the Ghost Ships on Kickstarter.

Pros: engaging theme, enhances the challenge of the original game, new miniatures and components

Cons: additional learning curve, not for beginners

Disclosure: This is a paid preview of an unpublished prototype of this game, which is subject to change prior to publication.