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Subject: Francis Drake Scaleability and overall awesomeness rss

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Michael nut
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So having been very excited about this game for the last couple of months and smashing out 2 games in three days with another planned for tomorrow I thought I should post a review. Note, this review may be slightly skewed cos a) I love this game and b) I'm on my third bourbon!

So Thursday's game had five players and this morning's was three which are the two ends of the spectrum that FD will cope with (looks like tmw will be four for the complete experience). The scaleability (I'm using that as a word) is controlled solely on the trek through Portsmouth where you gear up for your journey. The tiles are different for 3, 4 or 5 players with a) less places for discs to be placed and b) less stuff (crew, guns, supplies and trade goods) available at each place. The second phase (voyaging) is not affected in the same way, the same options are there and the same number of players can successfully complete each option.

The different tiles in Portsmouth make a bigger difference than you'd expect, not so much the reduction in spaces but more the reduction in goods. Five players I can go to one place and grab three crew, if I swing via Dockside I can grab another and four crew should, if I play my cards right or grab the Governor as well, be enough to take a town and a fort. With three players I can only pick up two which means I need more from another stop (FD himself, a Pinnace or the Tavern). Likewise with supplies, in a single stop in 5P I can grab 4 supplies which gives me the whole board to play with, in three player I can only pick up 3 which means I need another stop somewhere (even if that is Dockside). What this means is I can more clearly define my strategy - I only need 3 guns to be assured of a Galleon victory (until the Spains Revenge expansion arrives!) so I can focus on Crew and/or the Pinnace to take the towns and forts and give me the 10 point trifecta. arrrh

Once I head out into the wide blue yonder things are more open, there's still 29 missions I can complete over 14 locations but I'm only up against 2 other players so I'm more likely to get what I'm after as well as be first there and grab the silver, gold or jewel as well. If I've got the Informer, Golden Hind or Ghost ship as well then the options are even broader (and hey look there's a bonus for all three players!) so I can change, rush or bluff my way to whatever I'm really after.

In short, with more players it feels like there's more reward for rushing through Portsmouth, focusing on what you need and cherry picking. Trouble is there's more people fighting you for those positions. In three player there's more options available and the personalities are more important (there's going to be more silver/gold left on the board so the Governor and the Admiral are great) but you need to stop at more places to get enough stuff to be certain of success. Once you get out on the open seas you're more likely to get what you're after so Portsmouth feels like less of a lottery (where your strategy has to adapt to what you can grab).

Scores are higher with less players (I came second by a point with 99 on Thursday and first with 110 (or possibly 120, there's a bit of a bourbon haze) points with 3 players today which reflects the greater ability to be the first person to complete a mission and grab the bonus reward. Portsmouth requires more stops but there's more places to stop (but not enough to get kick arse amounts of everything). In today's game in round two, two players grabbed all the personalities which really punished the other player as there was more luck (well less knowledge really) in his mission decisions. In addition there was more gold an silver left on the board so the Governor and Admiral were even more awesome.

In summary, this game is awesome with three or five players, it's a different game as you can better plan your strategy with less but with five players (and a bit of luck) you can more easily grab what you need. Basically if you've got 2-4 mates go and buy this game, it's tense and exciting until the final round regardless the number of players. Treasure chests are the decider and a full set of commodities is extremely valuable. Whatever the number of players it's good fun!coolarrrh
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Brian Boyle
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Good to hear. It also appears that the games is also playable with 2 players, based on the variant posted here on the geek.

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Paulo Soledade
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I didn't yet make my mind about FD because (mainly) it's a bit over the edge, the price I mean.
This review certainly give it a few points on the plus side although I still am a bit worried about the reset aspect of the game from turn to turn. Maybe it lacks some of the build up economy thing I prefer the most. Still deciding.
But hey, congratulations on that "scaleability" thing you used
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Todd Kauk
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Soledade wrote:
I didn't yet make my mind about FD because (mainly) it's a bit over the edge, the price I mean.
This review certainly give it a few points on the plus side although I still am a bit worried about the reset aspect of the game from turn to turn. Maybe it lacks some of the build up economy thing I prefer the most. Still deciding.
But hey, congratulations on that "scaleability" thing you used


I recommend Egizia!
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Michael nut
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Paulo, the price is high cos the components are awesome. One of the things I like about ZMan games is they throw in extra bags so when you've punched everything you can store it. This goes even further with a custom insert to hold everything in place on top of a gorgeous board and high quality bits (there's a notch cut out of the box to help get the board out!).

There is a slight engine building mechanism in that commodities and treasure are kept until the final voyage but there's 5-7 years between trips so a) thematically it makes sense to reset and b) there's equal points on offer every round so your game isn't over if you make a mistake first round. It also means there's no run away leader, oh look it's round 2 and there's no way anyone else can win. Both games of FD I've played have come down to the treasure chest reveal to determine the winner keeping the tension high all the way.
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Neil Christiansen
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This is all good to read, as I am not a fan of cumulative engine-building games where the player that suffers most has 2 hours to watch it snowball out.
 
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Peter Reardon
Australia
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chris1nd wrote:
This is all good to read, as I am not a fan of cumulative engine-building games where the player that suffers most has 2 hours to watch it snowball out.


Then Francis Drake is the game for you. No engine building, but with that comes the challenge of outfitting your ship with enough of everything each round. The game allows for a great deal of flexibilty in planning your voyage and selecting what targets you will attack. You are not scripted into having to build that engine that the game dictates, you are allowed to devise your own way of maximizing your VP each voyage.

This is what is different about Drake and adds to the theme of going out into the Caribbean and doing what you want to the Spanish each turn.
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Henrik Lantz
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brumbynut wrote:
Paulo, the price is high cos the components are awesome. One of the things I like about ZMan games is they throw in extra bags so when you've punched everything you can store it.


Nitpick alert! This is a Eagle games release, not Zman.

And I guess I should thank you for putting yet another game on my already too long wishlist. Sigh.
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Shane Walsh
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Just got my copy today via the designer Peter Hawes himself . WHHHOOOOOHHOOOOOOO !!!! HAPPY DAYS !!
This thing is gorgeous ..
A thing of great beauty ..
Stunning ..

You get the idea - now to play it ......
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Michael nut
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Thanks Henrik, fully aware that FD is by Eagle/Kayal Games. Was trying (poorly it seems) to show that while ZMan impresses me by including bags, Eagle/Kayal bagged everything, built an insert custom designed to hold everything and even included a finger sized notch in the box to make getting the board out easy. Quality to the last detail!

PS, happy to put it on there, you'll love it!arrrh
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Henrik Lantz
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brumbynut wrote:
Thanks Henrik, fully aware that FD is by Eagle/Kayal Games. Was trying (poorly it seems) to show that while ZMan impresses me by including bags, Eagle/Kayal bagged everything, built an insert custom designed to hold everything and even included a finger sized notch in the box to make getting the board out easy. Quality to the last detail!

PS, happy to put it on there, you'll love it!arrrh


Thanks, that does sound great. It will be really pricey here, around the equivalent of 100 US$, but I think I will be getting it. And you know all about expensive games coming from Australia, so I guess we are in the same boat there.
 
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