We had six people for this game. All but one had played the game before.
This was the first time I had played with six people. Previously I have tried two and four players, and the game played well at those levels, though rather differently in each case.
Before I start, you're going to find a list of negatives below, with some suggestions at the end. I do actually like this game quite a bit, but I think that if you're going to play with six players, then you have to change the rules somewhat.
We discovered several things while playing this six player game.
1. The person who playes last in the sequence can potentially be at a great disadvantage. His ships were taken off the main island, and one was sunk before he got a chance to play. The other players still had two ships, so he was pretty much at a disadvantage through the rest of the game. Although he tried a new settlement, it was too late to really allow him to recover.
2. The second to last player won the game. You would think that he might have suffered a similar problem as in the previous point, but the difference was that his boats remained on the main island until he got a chance to play. This gave him a strong starting position.
3. With six people, the game is very much out of your control. You don't have much ability to plan moves when the board will change so dramatically before you can get another turn. This doesn't lead to satisfying gameplay, as there is too much randomness involved. (Note though that this might lead to different strategies, which is a different entry I need to write about.)
4. The game ends quite a bit faster, because the tiles are drawn more frequently.
Overall, I would say that I won't ever play a six player game in this way again. It was too unbalanced for opportunities for all players.
However, some possibilities for team play became evident that I want to try. I think it might make the game much more satisfying with this number of people.
I have two variant suggestions that I want to try. Here they are for your consideration:
Variant 1 (4 or 6 players):
People play in teams of two, sitting across from each other. Teams score the scores on all the islands they occupy. When both boats of a team are on the island the island only counts once.
Variant 2 (4 or 6 players):
People play in teams of two, sitting across from each other. Each team member calculates their scores as normal. The team score is the lowest of those two member scores. The winning team is the highest of these team scores. (a la "Einfach Genial").
I will post more information on these variants when I have a chance to play them.
As I mentioned before, I really like this game. I just think it needs a little tweaking when you go above 4 players.