Ah....the smell of the sea. The gentle undulation of the waves as our ships cut through the briny deep in search of silver, gold, jewels and goods. The thrill of a deal well cut, providing sustenance, protection and crew for longer journeys and more adventure. These are the voyages....
Well, anyway, I got to show two friends, Thom and Susannah, from my local play group 'Francis Drake' just the other day. They're my guinea pigs as I cut my demo chops on a new game. And two finer guinea pi...err...players could not be found.
As I set up the board, I watched their eyes glaze over as piece after piece was laid out. Hushed whispers of "how difficult is this going to be" and "those are some impressive bits" could be heard as I set out the ships, barrels, jewels and pieces that would make up our adventure. I kept telling them that while the game might look complex, the mechanics are actually pretty simple and straight-forward. This comment was greeted with disbelief tempered with a willingness to "have a go at it".
I began by giving a quick rundown on play, explaining how the actions taken along the dock should be predicated on where they wanted to voyage. I could tell it would be best to actually start play and explain things as we went along, so, after randomly assigning the player positions, we were ready to begin play. Susannah went first and I explained why it was important to get guns, crew and trade goods, referencing the bottom 2/3 of the board to clarify. I went second, followed by Thom. Through this first round, I explained each of the spaces, what the Queen, Governor, Admiral and Francis Drake did. We discussed the Pinnace and its importance.
We reached the end of the dock and set sail. No Golden Hind this round. So we placed our discs, again with me explaining how they worked and suggesting where to put them. Susannah focused on conquering, taking forts and towns, collecting gold and silver, hoarding the precious metals (OK! Beads) in her treasure chest. Thom was slower to start, but quickly caught on and, after a full round, everyone was pretty comfortable and serious play began (or as serious as the three of us ever are when playing games).
For the next two rounds we jostled for position. Susannah took the Pinnace both rounds, making it so she could take the forts without using up her guns. I was almost blocked from getting my coveted purple cubes (the trade goods because I SO wanted the 26 points for collecting all of them), but I successfully collected enough to get all I needed. We sailed the ocean blue, attacking forts and cities, stocking up on coffee, sugar, tobacco and Indigo. None of us, for whatever reason, attacked the Galleons, so never collected any jewels.
At the end, after counting all the victory points, Susannah was the Queen of the Seas, the female Francis Drake, collecting a solid 77 points. I came in second with 71. Thom came in third, but still had a good haul at the end of the day.
Now....to take it to game night at one of the FLGSs nearby.