Another new one to some of us. I had mixed feelings about the appearance on first impression – the map board and components are quite good, but I thought the card artwork and the box were a bit cheap-looking. That’s the box artwork, not the box itself, which I think must be the thickest/most robust game box I’ve ever bothered to feel!
(Sorry - the pics here are rather lo-res.)
The game concept is simple enough: Travel around the Caribbean, picking up points and crew, provisions or weapons as you go. Land at an island with an opponent’s pirate ship that has lower weapons and you can plunder something from their ship, or just take two of their vps and add them to your score.
The prevailing wind mechanic is kind of neat, if thematically strange. Bid wind cubes in the fist (even losers are discarded) for the privilege of determining the wind direction, thereby restricting everyone’s movement options at the start of each turn. Additional action points can be spent on taking or spending special effect cards or on obtaining more wind cubes, which have the additional benefit of converting into vps at game end at the rate of 3:1.
Pat’s advice at the start of game was that you needed a healthy cache of weapons to succeed in WoP. In fact, I think his words were, “you need to do three things to win; 1 - get lots of cannons, 2 - get lots of cannons, and 3 - (you got it…)”. Overall I tried to heed this advice, and sought high-scoring cannon sites when I could. But I also aimed for the high-scoring ‘reputation’ collections and although I only managed to complete two sets, I did get the maximum of 7 for each set. Pat actually chose a different strategy, which was to optimise points throughout the game without worrying too much about cannons, and to collect as many wind cubes as possible to cash in on the vp conversion at the end.
And it very nearly worked. My combination was just enough, however, to pip him at the post. This combination included significant investment in cannons and plundering (until the last two turns, when Neil F. went hard on these and surpassed everyone’s cannon count significantly, plundering me once), decent ‘reputation’ score (two regions, 14 points as described), three buried treasure maps, and miscellaneous bonuses for about 5 extra points at the end. It worked this time perhaps, but it certainly got me wondering about the range of other strategies that could be effective. Like going for max points on the table, favouring provisions instead for the +1 bonus for each pick-up – if you can get and hold this for most of the game, that’s 7 or 8 points – nice, but perhaps not enough on its own. So, maybe favour crew behind this, since they have a more generous conversion rate to vps at the end. The range of possibilities seems interesting, and I look forward to playing this again soon to try them out.
15 mins rules and setup; 77 mins game time.
Results: Paul (red): 62. Pat (blue): 61. Neil M (green/yellow): 56. Neil F (orange): 52.
(Originally posted in The Mine Shaft Gap.)