Jim brought this game in to the SBG game night tonight and I couldn't wait to get in a game. The play time was just about right for the game and and it was a fun game. (I don't know if this should be a session report or a strategy post, because it does a little of each.)
Get some cards, but don't get more than a few because someone will storm you so you have to reduce your hand to two.
Get some wind cubes, but not a ton because people will hose you with the cards taking half of your stockpile. Ideally, have just less than someone else so you are not the primary target and they will have to spend a lot to get control of the wind. If you ever get a lot, spend them fast to get control.
Don't be afraid to spend your three actions to go against the wind. It makes you a less attractive target if any would-be predators have to give up card play or getting more wind cubes to pursue you.
For our first game here were two strategies that were strongly in play, and mine just happened to win. I'm sure others will develop, but these were the dominant ones for our game board.
My plan developed into:
Go for the high point score chits, ignoring the secondary benefits of guns/crew when there is a tie or close point value, grab the treasure maps or cargo. A low scoring chit is really only of interest if
a) is in a location you need for reputation
b) has a treasure map and something else you need
. (Possibly to get benefit from a card you are holding.)
. (I was focusing on cargo, so that counted as a need.)
I focused two areas at a time (and got the second place reputation bonus, while two different players got the first place bonus) and don't visit the same port twice if you can avoid it, if you have to visit the same port again make sure it is with a treasure map and a high scoring port chit.
Don't get guns or crew unless the high point port chits make it necessary or it would allow you to play a card. (In our game people seemed to ignore you if you were not in the arms race.)
I focused on cargo. The payout is good, but it was somewhat neglected during play because cargo doesn't have a fancy bonus for things like extra actions or whatever. Also, getting extra VPs every turn for most cargo helped.
Scott's plan turned into:
Get cannon, attack other ships, take their cannon, then swipe their stuff. By following this strategy other players were basically collecting goods for him, so he got a double tap when he landed at a port with another player. He got the port resource token/score chit/whatever it is called, and whatever he swiped from the other player.
Scott focused more on wind cubes so he could be Blackbeard and control the turn order. As I was sitting to his right that made me last more often than not. I only had control once during the game, and while it slowed me down it didn't cost me the game.
In this game it seemed like Scott and I switched our traditional roles, I tend to be the run out your guns type, while he is usually the observant min-max player. I suspect that when he lost half his wind cubes due to card play early on, it made him happier to go out for blood.
In the end I had more cargo, more high point tokens, and more booty than the other players, giving me a win.