We've tested the double action variant, and it indeed adds some more choices (read: makes the 2-player game playable). And there is yet one more tip: * Take out all the merchant ships. * Shuffle them, and divide equally among the players in piles face down. * On his turn, player can twice choose from one of the following actions: 1) draw a card from the common deck (now containig only pirate ships, pirates and admiral) 2) play a p. ship, pirate or admiral 3) turn the top card from his/her merchant ships deck, thus sending her to the sea. * The merchant ships left in players' piles at the end of game are counted against their respective scores.
If you would like to further diminish the influence of randomness, you can divide the merchant ships as in this variant.
Just tried your variant. We divided the merchant ships "equally", following the other variant that you linked to. We decided to give the deck containing the 8-gold merchant ship to the starting player, as it contains one more ship than the other merchant-ship deck (13 cards versus 12).
We made another change: When drawing a merchant ship, it went into the player's hand instead of straight to sea. In a future session, we may try it as you described.
In any case, it worked very well. This is now my preferred way to play the game with two. Thanks!
Looks good - just one question for you. Do players have a starting hand or do they start with nothing? My thoughts is that I'd like to start with something. I'm thinking that each player starts with 5 cards from the common deck & one from their merchant deck. I'd appreciate your thoughts.