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Subject: 8 Player Game rss

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Matt Parfitt
United Kingdom
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I thought that this may be of interest to the community but yesterday I trialed an eight player game after several four player games to get into the swing of things.

I did this by purchasing two copies of the game taking the ships and cubes from one set of the game and painting them in alternative colours (white, purple, silver and bronze). The standard board and card set was used and apart from the ships and cubes the only components used from the second set were the player boards and chests.

Overall the experiment was a success with the only frustrations arising from the usual delays of teaching 4-5 new players the rules. The overall play time was manageable at 3.5 hours compared to 3 hours for a four player game.

If anything the game was slightly improved by the larger number of players as the seas felt a lot more dangerous than in the four player version as there was a much greater chance of being in range of another player should you finish your move at sea and/or have a damaged ship. This led to a lot more pirate banter, player vs player and player vs npc combat than we had experienced in the four player game.

The new players dominated the game as they tried alternative strategies and took a lot more risks, this led to our first successful capture of a man-o-war as well as a lot of entertaining failures.

The game was finally won by a new player who used an interesting strategy as a merchant of delaying a sale of in demand products until he had five of a kind, the delay of gathering the extra cargo was offset by the additional income which allowed him to declare the win once he had reached five glory points due to his large stash. The game was close however with two other merchants being in second and third positions and on their way to their home ports to stash.

Overall in spite of some amazing acts of piracy and the ability to keep up with merchants on the glory track it has been our experience that merchants have a slight edge in the game over pirates.

This seems to be a combination of the higher incomes received via trading versus merchant raids as well as ease of access to ports due to not having bounties, which also results in a greater likelihood of completing rumours/missions and also of receiving a useful glory card.

Normally in a game like this the leader would be targeted but due to the power of the galleon it becomes difficult and risky to attack a merchant after they have upgraded and often due to the merchant strategy being one of earning and stashing large amounts of gold it is not always apparent how far ahead a merchant may be.

The difference between the pirate and merchant is not insurmountable and with some good luck we have had several pirate wins, however the merchant does seem to have a slight edge that perhaps would be countered by either increasing the cost of the galleon to 40 or 45 or alternatively by reducing it's maneuverability to 1 as suggested elsewhere on these forums.
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Rob Rennich
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In my experience the best thing to do is switch from merchant (in the early game) to pirate near the end. Timing the switch is the key. Too late and someone will beat you to a win, too early and you lose opportunity from bounties. Merchants are the "slow and steady" mentality, and pirates are "high risk, high reward". So, I say build up a strong score, then take a high risk shot at pulling out a quick win at the right moment.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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mattafish wrote:
The difference between the pirate and merchant is not insurmountable and with some good luck we have had several pirate wins, however the merchant does seem to have a slight edge that perhaps would be countered by either increasing the cost of the galleon to 40 or 45 or alternatively by reducing it's maneuverability to 1 as suggested elsewhere on these forums.

I think the merchant advantage is more likely attributable to the play style of the group than to an inherent imbalance. Many groups (including mine) have seen pirates winning more often.
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Gunther Schmidl
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Sphere wrote:

I think the merchant advantage is more likely attributable to the play style of the group than to an inherent imbalance. Many groups (including mine) have seen pirates winning more often.


I agree - a pirate who takes risks is as likely to win, as we found out last game.
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Paul Beakley
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How does the game scale past the initial four players? Are there any issues at all? It seems like it's sandbox-y enough that it should not matter much, other than maybe that the map doesn't grow with the players so it gets kind of tight. Which might be a feature and not a bug.
 
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Wiedewiet
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PBeakley wrote:
How does the game scale past the initial four players? Are there any issues at all? It seems like it's sandbox-y enough that it should not matter much, other than maybe that the map doesn't grow with the players so it gets kind of tight. Which might be a feature and not a bug.

I believe Matt did talk about this:

mattafish wrote:
Overall the experiment was a success with the only frustrations arising from the usual delays of teaching 4-5 new players the rules. The overall play time was manageable at 3.5 hours compared to 3 hours for a four player game.

If anything the game was slightly improved by the larger number of players as the seas felt a lot more dangerous than in the four player version as there was a much greater chance of being in range of another player should you finish your move at sea and/or have a damaged ship. This led to a lot more pirate banter, player vs player and player vs npc combat than we had experienced in the four player game.
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Ted Groth
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Wiet wrote:
PBeakley wrote:
How does the game scale past the initial four players? Are there any issues at all?

I believe Matt did talk about this:

What about the reduced availability of special weapons and upgrades? It would seem that this might be detrimental to a pirate strategy, in particular becasue of the need for these in merchant raids.

Probably easily fixed if you add in the tokens from the 2nd game, but OP said that wasn't done. Not sure what the side effects would be of adding them though.
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Matt Parfitt
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With regard to special weapons there was no issue of reduced availability as we allowed all players to purchase special weapons as normal, should it have been required we would have added the special weapon tokens from the second set but in this playthrough it was not required at any point as we had a lot of merchant players.

As for the ship modifications we found that the additional players made obtaining them mildly harder. However due to the increased level of player vs player combat and the usual upgrades to larger ships that occur, we found that they were recycled quicker than normal so that there were modifications available throughout the duration of the game. In fact a couple were still not revealed at the end of the game.

There is also always the possibility of attacking a player who has picked up a modification that you really want and taking over their ship.

Overall I would recommend the experience as with eight player ships plus npc naval and pirate ships in play you really had to think quite carefully about the route that you wanted to take for fear of coming under attack. In the four player game there is the space to easily avoid the other players should you wish to.
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