Although hundreds of whaling voyages launched from New England ports such as New Bedford and Nantucket, the most famous by far was one that never took place at all, on a ship that never existed, commanded by a captain who didn’t either. But then, of course, everyone knows of the hunt for Moby Dick.
Created by five young men who were captivated by the world of Herman Melville (and funded in part by Kickstarter contributions), the cleverly named Moby Dick; or, the Card Game—which actually plays more like a board game with cards—brings the classic novel to life in a way that’s comprehensive, ingenious, and thoroughly entertaining. Moby employs all the traditional elements of a competitive game: You’ll assemble a crew based on the book’s characters, you’ll engage in whale hunts, you’ll garner barrels of oil—all before embarking on a final hunt with Captain Ahab for the great white leviathan.
But that only scratches the surface of the game’s dynamics. As your high-school English teacher surely told you, Melville created an entirely self-contained world in his depiction of the Pequod’s voyage and its finely drawn crew. Moby the game captures that spirit admirably. Essentially, King Post has made Melville’s novel interactive, while sticking to a good old-fashioned analog format (not an easy feat). Crew members initiate or precipitate actions in the game almost exactly the way their characters do in the novel. Events unfold in a complex, subtly layered fashion that echoes the novel’s plot as it plunges into ever-more-uncertain waters. You can easily become enmeshed in this complex game, spending hours upon hours absorbed in its rich universe.
Moby Dick is beautifully presented, with more than 100 historically descriptive playing cards, authentically illustrated. The game’s Web site is also a treat, serving up fascinating background material complemented by sparkling graphics.
King Post Productions, $34.99; mobydickgame.com