Men Overboard

Players 2-4
Length minutes
Equipment Required Requires one original piecepack set, and one additional set (the suits are irrelevant)
Designer Paul Hastings (paul, at SPAMhastings, dot org, without the spam)
(with some suggestions by Larry Hastings)
Version Version 0.5
Version Date2008-03-26
License Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license: , dual-licensed CC BY-SA 4.0


You're taking part in a sailing race with a small crew. During the race, a terrible monsoon wrecks all the boats in the race, and flings all the men to the corners of the sea!

You wash ashore at a small port city. Luckily you have money at a bank there--you buy a new sailboat and a spyglass, sight your men on several islands, and set sail to rescue!

Sail to pick up your three men, then sail home--before your opponents do!


Separate out the ace tiles of the four main suits, and eight null tiles (suit doesn't matter). Flip over all the rest of the tiles.

Lay out all the tiles in a 6 x 8 grid. The shape of the board is as follows:

[AA][  ][  ][  ][  ][  ][  ][AS]
[  ][N*][  ][  ][  ][  ][N*][  ]
[  ][  ][  ][N*][N*][  ][  ][  ]
[  ][  ][  ][N*][N*][  ][  ][  ]
[  ][N*][  ][  ][  ][  ][N*][  ]
[AC][  ][  ][  ][  ][  ][  ][AM]

Tiles starting with A are Aces; for instance, AA is Ace of Arms, and AM is Ace of Moons. Tiles starting with N are nulls.

When placing the four Ace tiles, the corner with the icon must point *away* from the center of the board. These are Home Ports.

The four null tiles near the home port are Islands. Their orientation and suit does not matter.

The four nulls in the center indicate the position of the Center Island. The center island is actually made up of the four corners of those four tiles; point all the icons towards the center of the board, and those four spaces with icons are the center island. Their suits do not matter.

|    ||    |
|   *||*   |
|   *||*   |
|    ||    |

All other tiles (non-flipped-over tiles) are open water, and the other three spaces around the center island are also water, like so:

|w  w||w  w|
|w  I||I  w|
|w  I||I  w|
|w  w||w  w|

For each player playing, place their pawn on the opposite home port; that is their Starting Port. For example, the Moon pawn should go on the Arms port. This represents their Ship.

For each player playing, they should place one coin of their suit, suit up, on each of the three islands not adjoining their Home Port or their Starting Port. For instance, the Moons player would place one coin on the island adjoining the Crowns port, the Suns port, and the center island. These coins are your Castaways.

Each player also needs their die, and you need one extra die for wind direction.


A "round" is a set of "turns", one turn for each player. The players should always play in the same order. (It's up to you to decide player order.)

At the start of every round, roll the Wind Direction die. The result of the roll indicates the wind direction for this turn:

resultwind direction
null roll again
ace up and left (in the direction shown on the Ace of Arms tile)
2 up and right (in the direction shown on the Ace of Suns tile)
3 down and right (in the direction shown on the Ace of Moons tile)
4 down and left (in the direction shown on the Ace of Crowns tile)
5 roll again

Each player then takes their turn. They roll their die, and the number it indicates (null = 0, ace = 1) indicates wind speed.

The player may now move their Ship. They have three options: rowing, sailing with the wind, and tacking against the wind.

Rowing means the player moves their ship one space up/down/left/right.

Sailing with the wind means the player moves their ship "wind direction" spaces in the direction the wind is blowing. This is always diagonal.

Tacking against the wind means the player moves their ship "wind direction" * 2 spaces in the direction the wind is blowing. This is always diagonal.

If you are sailing with the wind, or tacking, you must use all the movement. If you roll a 5, and you are tacking, you must move 10 spaces; you cannot elect to stop early. There are two exceptions to this rule: 1) If you run into the edge of the board, you must stop. 2) If you land on a space that is part of an island, and the island is currently inhabited (by either castaways or by another player's ship), you must stop.

If you land on an island containing one of your castaways, you automatically pick them up. And, on the beginning of your next turn, you can leave the island starting from your choice of any of the four corners, moving normally (with the wind, tacking, or rowing).

The first player to pick up all their castaways, then arrive at their home port, wins. Note that the game ends immediately if a player arrives at their home port with all their castaways during their turn; you do not finish the current round.

Version History

Version 0.5
Initial public release.