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Subject: Review of Pirates! rss

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Vasco van de Haar Pinto
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This is my first written review of a game on BGG. I waited all this time because I never felt that my thoughts and especially the way I am able to pen those down in English would be a contribution to this gaming community. But Pirates! The Card Game changed that. I feel that Pirates! is a game that deserves more attention than it currently does. So, let me tell you why.

About myself
I'm a boardgamer for quite some time now. Like everybody else I started out playing monopoly, risk, checkers, chess and such. Although in retrospective these games weren't the most fun I played, I enjoyed them quite a bit nontheless. I think it were the social and mathematical aspects that drew me in above all else. Many years later someone showed me the settlers of catan. I loved it. I loved it much more than the person that showed and taught it to me. Soon I discovered Carcassonne. I liked it even better than Catan. I soon discovered there were so many games out there!
Over the years I played and enjoyed a lot of them. I can say I like many different kind of games. I try to play a very varied arsenal of games as I like to see all that's out there. I'm not that competitive, although I play to win. I have no problem with a luck factor, but it is important to me that I have some degree of influence over the outcome of the game.
Some of my favorite games are A Game of Thrones boardgame, X-wing: Miniatures Game, 7 Wonders, the Resistance, Dominion, Eclipse, to name a few.

About the game
I will not sum up the rules here. Please check out the video by ryan metzler to get the idea.
From my understanding the game was in the works for a long time. Jules Prick came up with the idea and then he and his brother Steven played and altered it in a timespan of years. At some point the game was that enjoyable that they felt they had to put it out there. They tried funding it through kickstarter but that unfortunately proved unsuccesful. With some lessons learned they wanted to relaunch the game on kickstarter. In order to get the word out there, they visited some cons and local gaming groups to demo the game, amongst them the gaming group that I am part of. I have played Pirates! 3 times now and I
Spoiler (click to reveal)

The game is played with cards, dice and some tokens. The individual card illustrations are all aquarel paintings and look absolutely beautiful! To me, the looks of a game are important. They may tilt me over into playing it, or not. The artwork on the cards looked so beautiful, original and fresh that I immediately was intrigued. What I can say is that I will definately be sleeving the cards, as I would hate to have them get damaged or getting dirty.
There are 6 D6 dice included in the base game: 1 wind die (that decides if you are fast enough to catch up with, and are able to attack, another ship) and 5 battle dice (used during the actual battles). They are quite straight forward looking: white dice with blue (wind die) and black (battle dice) images. They are easy to read, which is important.
Tokens are used to show how many crew members are on a boat. In the prototype they were represented by swords: 1-sword tokens and 5-sword tokens. You will be handling them a lot, so they need to be practical and rugged. Currently it's not clear how the tokens will end up in mass production, so I'm curious about that myself.
Other then these major components, included in the box will be a rulebook (duh), a fame card, which shows who holds the most treasure icons and is worth victory points (think of it as the longest road in Catan) and I think some player references.
A kickstarter backer also created a print and play treasure map on which you can keep track of scores. Nice!
I have only played with the prototype so I can't comment on the quality of the end product, but it is all looking very nice! This game is definately a "looker".

The rules have been explained to me in person and they are really easy to grasp. This is a game that you can play within minutes. Some people were arguing about some card play timing issues, but those issues will be resolved in the final rulebook.

During this game you will draw cards to strengthen you during battles, draw boat-cards to attack, draw adventure-cards to push your luck, choose victims, modify your battle strength, roll dice and hopefully capture some ships to increase your pirate fleet and earn victory points to win the game.
The game can play really quick when everyone knows what they are doing. You start with one sloop, which basically means you can only do one battle in the first round. As the game progresses players will have two or three boats with which they can battle, so turns tend to take longer later on. I played with 4 and 3 players and the downtime to me was acceptable. This is not really a game that's susceptable to AP, but some doubtful persons can slow down the game, so in that case a 6 player game could cause too much downtime. The "nice" thing is that you can be attacked during other players' turns, so you at least get to roll dice in between your turns! I also noticed that games can get slow when people don't attack eachother but only the cards drawn that turn. This will turn this game in an "un-pirate-like" race. This game is meant to be played aggressively, knowing that neing the last man standing wins you the game.

What I liked:
- The artwork: I think it looks absolutely stunning!
- The theme: I like pirates. Who doesn't?!?
- The rules: I like easy to grasp rules. You can get some people together and literally play within minutes.
- Playable with 2-6: this is a nice game for a gamenight when you don't want to think too much and just have fun talking trash to your friends and roll dice.
- Rolling dice: if you like rolling dice, you will love this game because you get to roll dice A LOT! Ofcourse this causes some randomness and chaos but I don't mind that when I set my mind to it.
-The price point: I live in Amsterdam and can pick up the game locally for just 17 pounds. The early bird with shipping within EU, US and UK was 20 pounds but are gone. Right now you can back this game for 23 pounds, shipping included.

What I didn't particularly like:
- The fact that only 5 dice are included in the base game. In some battles you will be rolling 20+ dice, I would have liked to have more battle dice instead of throwing 4 times. But hey! look at that: if you pledge for the game on kickstarter you can add extra dice! Go for it!
- To keep track of the victory points of other players during the game, you will be scanning all their cards all the time. During play I missed an easy overview of the situation. But hey! look at that: some backer created a print and play victory track! Go for it!
- In this game players will get eliminated. I'm not a fan of player elimination, but this game is fun to watch being played after being eliminated. Eliminated players can roll dice for the drawn boat cards the surviving players choose to attack. So all in all I didn't mind the player elimination aspect in this game too much, and the game doesn't take ages, so just join in for the next game!

I like this game a lot. It's quick, easy and beautiful. For me, being able to pick up a copy in my hometown for just 17 pounds makes backing the kickstarter campaign a no-brainer. Can't wait to have my copy in hands, and here's to hoping that all the stretch goals get unlocked!
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