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Subject: Looking to buy, but a few questions first rss

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Drew Sonnenberg
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I've had my eye on this game for awhile, and I think it's time I finally pull the trigger. However, I've heard a few things about this game here and there that I want sorted out before I finalize the purchase. I tried looking around the forums here, but there's just so much information (which is a good thing) that it's kind of hard to pull out the answers I'm looking for.

1. I've heard a lot about balancing this game through house rules and variants and the like. Do you think this game is unbalanced?

2. I've heard about several variants. Are any of them good/must-use? Are any of them official (made by the designer(s))?

3.I've heard a lot about downtime and games lagging. Do you find this to be an issue in the games you play? Does it get better as your group gets more experienced or does it get worse?

If you can help answer some or all of my questions, I would greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to this game!
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Bartow Riggs
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dedlius wrote:
I've had my eye on this game for awhile, and I think it's time I finally pull the trigger. However, I've heard a few things about this game here and there that I want sorted out before I finalize the purchase. I tried looking around the forums here, but there's just so much information (which is a good thing) that it's kind of hard to pull out the answers I'm looking for.

1. I've heard a lot about balancing this game through house rules and variants and the like. Do you think this game is unbalanced?

2. I've heard about several variants. Are any of them good/must-use? Are any of them official (made by the designer(s))?

3.I've heard a lot about downtime and games lagging. Do you find this to be an issue in the games you play? Does it get better as your group gets more experienced or does it get worse?

If you can help answer some or all of my questions, I would greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to this game!


I think this game is best with 3 players. Downtime was not an issue for me but I'm a wargamer and used to long turns.

I think the game is fairly balanced but you may want to give more than one captain to the players and let them choose.

I have not used any variants.

This is the best Pirate boardgame I have played. (I've played Blackbeard, Pirate's Cove and SeaRovers - and a couple others i don;t rememeber I'm sure.)
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Taylor Bradley
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dedlius wrote:

1. I've heard a lot about balancing this game through house rules and variants and the like. Do you think this game is unbalanced?


I think it might be easier to win if you play as a merchant, but pirates are way more fun! Usually the merchants win when we play because they can get money a lot quicker.

dedlius wrote:

3.I've heard a lot about downtime and games lagging. Do you find this to be an issue in the games you play? Does it get better as your group gets more experienced or does it get worse?


The only time it can really feel like its lagging that I have seen is when you are a pirate and your captain keeps getting unlucky with scouting rolls so you can never raid anything. But if you have good scout rolls then it chugs right along

BartowWing wrote:

I think the game is fairly balanced but you may want to give more than one captain to the players and let them choose.


This is a must!

This is one of my favorite games to play. Even when the game goes on for a while I almost always have a great time. It looks great, I love the theme, and it has fun mechanics to it. I would definitely recommend buying it!
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Jeff Wells
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dedlius wrote:
I've had my eye on this game for awhile, and I think it's time I finally pull the trigger. However, I've heard a few things about this game here and there that I want sorted out before I finalize the purchase. I tried looking around the forums here, but there's just so much information (which is a good thing) that it's kind of hard to pull out the answers I'm looking for.

1. I've heard a lot about balancing this game through house rules and variants and the like. Do you think this game is unbalanced?

2. I've heard about several variants. Are any of them good/must-use? Are any of them official (made by the designer(s))?

3.I've heard a lot about downtime and games lagging. Do you find this to be an issue in the games you play? Does it get better as your group gets more experienced or does it get worse?

If you can help answer some or all of my questions, I would greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to this game!



First off, I'm a little biased here, as I've followed this game from almost its inception, and to me it is the best pirate game I could play. Now on to your questions.

1. I've not found it to be unbalanced. Granted, some of the captains are better at being merchants, some are better marauders. If you don't like the captain you've drawn, one of the variants my group has used on occasion is to draw two captains and pick one. In our last couple games, this hasn't been an issue, as we've looked at the stats and built strategy around that.

2.The only variant I've personally used is the one listed above. We haven't seen the need for any others.

3. To be honest, the first couple of games did lag a little, as we were trying to wrap our heads around how different things played out. Downtime isn't really an issue now, as we plan our next move as the other guys are taking theirs.

That's my two cents. This is a great game, so don't let some of the threads discourage you. My experience is that once the game is played a few times, its beauty really comes out.
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Drew Sonnenberg
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Jeff_Wells wrote:
This is a great game, so don't let some of the threads discourage you. My experience is that once the game is played a few times, its beauty really comes out.


Thanks Jeff! That is what I was hoping to hear. I know there are some people on BGG that just never seem satisfied with a game out of the box. I was hoping that the people expressing this here were not the majority, just the loudest. The three of you have allayed my fears.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Agree with Jeff. We get to many of the "one game reviews" nowadays where people want to fix things, when usually they are either playing incorrectly, or just haven't figured out what they're doing. It takes 2-3 plays to get going really well. Excellent game.
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Liam
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I'm not a huge fan of this. However, unlike with say Arkham Horror, I'm not a naysayer because I recognise that a lot of good design decisions have gone into this. Sure its got great looks but it's also got good mechanics and provides significant scope for meaningful decision making.

It doesn't work for me because games last a little too long for my group and is naturally less elegant than it's euro/family game competitors. I note your collection has few ameritrash titles so be aware that this one does fit into that category. Weight wise it won't be a problem for you.

1.
I do think the game can be unbalanced but this only occurs if players don't recognise that they need to interact with each other. Pirate Players need to attack/threaten merchant players. A merchant player unhindered has, IMO, a better chance at winning.

Which captain you get also, should greatly, influence your play. Ultimately I would rather have a good pirate or merchant or adventurer than an undefined flexible character but on the whole they are fairly balanced. As suggested above, offering players two choices of captain is an option - reminding them they can retire a captain is also worth mentioning.

2.
There is a variant that helps pirates scout merchant players. If your merchant players are racking up too many wins or never being attacked perhaps think about using it.

3.
Downtime depends upon your group. In M&M there are a lot of options, it's important that players understand their options but also that they decide what they are going to do when it is not their turn. Downtime should radically improve as your group gets more experienced.

Be sure to have a look at the rules prior to buying:
http://www.zmangames.com/boardgames/files/merchants_marauder...

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N S.
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This game is excellent as written and requires no house-rules or variants. Every time I play it I am astonished at how well balanced it is, how much play-testing clearly went into it, and how the designers seemed to have anticipated every potentially game-breaking exploit. It's a 10. The people who think it's unbalanced are drawing conclusions after playing it only a few times.

Three-player games are my favorite, but 2 and 4 are fine too. Long turns and down-time are only an issue when I'm teaching new players. Once everyone knows what they're doing the game flies.
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Mike Clarke
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Best pirate game out there. It's an exciting race to the finish. I bought this game when it first came out and have played it many times.

It's asymmetrical so you have to play marauders differently than merchants. It's complex so you have to make sure you're using all the tools at your disposal. It has a learning curve.

I think the balance complaints come from people who have not played it enough to figure out all its parts or how they fit together. This is one of the better game designs out there.

Pure ameritrashy goodness.
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Martin Presley
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Can anyone with experience address how good this is as a 2p game? My wife and I game a lot together, and this looks really fun and rich, but I heard there are problems with runaway leader in 2p.
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Mark Buetow
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hoobajoo wrote:
Can anyone with experience address how good this is as a 2p game? My wife and I game a lot together, and this looks really fun and rich, but I heard there are problems with runaway leader in 2p.


It's real simple. If your wife starts slipping way ahead, hunt her down and sink her.
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Mike Clarke
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hoobajoo wrote:
Can anyone with experience address how good this is as a 2p game? My wife and I game a lot together, and this looks really fun and rich, but I heard there are problems with runaway leader in 2p.


Like any boardgame designed for multiple players that includes elements of luck, you increase the luck factor with only two (less mitigation of random elements by other players).

That said, it's still a very fun game for two and since it can be a long game playing it with fewer people for a shorter experience is a decent trade off.

And like Mark pointed out...you can always sink her!
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Dariusz M
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1. The game is balanced well.
2. The Cutthroat Variant is a must. Without it, you'll never buy a fregate.
3. Experienced players don't need to think, so there is no significant laggs.

You won't regret your purchase.
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Guido Gloor
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dedlius wrote:
1. I've heard a lot about balancing this game through house rules and variants and the like. Do you think this game is unbalanced?

Nope. Early reviews were split neatly in two between the "much easier for merchants" and the "much easier for pirates" camps, and there's still proponents for either position today, but all ways to victory are equally viable. Because of what others said about captains, we often (but not always) draw two or three captains at the start and then choose one.

dedlius wrote:
2. I've heard about several variants. Are any of them good/must-use? Are any of them official (made by the designer(s))?

The cutthroat variant is official and included in the FAQ, Cutthroat Variant and Errata, but not needed at all.

(Yes, Frigates are not particularly good at hunting other players, but they are particularly good at hunting NPC merchants. As countless threads with discussions that have no need of being rehashed show. Just ignore the naysayers.)

dedlius wrote:
3.I've heard a lot about downtime and games lagging. Do you find this to be an issue in the games you play? Does it get better as your group gets more experienced or does it get worse?

There's not that much downtime. More than in an Euro, sure, but turns are relatively quick and interesting for those not directly involved, too. Unlike others, I think the sweet spot is at four players and not three, because you have more player interaction then.

hoobajoo wrote:
Can anyone with experience address how good this is as a 2p game? My wife and I game a lot together, and this looks really fun and rich, but I heard there are problems with runaway leader in 2p.

It's easy to get an enemy back to square one (well, not really square one because they keep their victory points) with a well-timed attack on their vessel. That's as possible with two players as with more. No player has ever truly ran away, the game is never over until it's over.

Additionally, the game is so awesome as an experience that, to me, it is a huge lot of fun whether I'm currently winning or losing. arrrh
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djedi gamer wrote:
1. The game is balanced well.
2. The Cutthroat Variant is a must. Without it, you'll never buy a fregate.
3. Experienced players don't need to think, so there is no significant laggs.

You won't regret your purchase.

I play without the cutthroat variant,
and as pirate I always buy my frigate.
The ship is made for merchant raiding ...

here have a bottle of rumarrrh
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Dariusz M
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JeVo wrote:

I play without the cutthroat variant,
and as pirate I always buy my frigate.
The ship is made for merchant raiding ...


... and every merchant player can easly sink it.
 
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hoobajoo wrote:
Can anyone with experience address how good this is as a 2p game? My wife and I game a lot together, and this looks really fun and rich, but I heard there are problems with runaway leader in 2p.
With 2 players you don't get in each other's way quite as often so there's a little bit less direct interaction, but if you want more interaction one player simply has to chase after the other. If your opponent seems to be pulling too far ahead, you need to go after them to try knocking them back a little.

A big advantage of 2-player games is that once you both know what you're doing it goes remarkably quick - games under an hour can and have been done.
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Chris G
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It's a great game, it's well balanced though out of the box merchants can seem to have the advantage until the Pirates start to figure it out.

One thing to keep in mind is that you are playing a game. Don't get to attached to your pirate - it's not an RPG. There are many times where it's better to die and start over then to slog along in a losing position. Cut your losses keep your points and start fresh. Remember it is a race to the finish game. That problem though shows how thematically beautiful this game is. You totally get into it and are playing that captain.

I think the game plays best with 4, but only because that makes the competition much tighter. However it still plays well with 2 or 3. It's just that the seas are a little more open.

Overall the game is well balanced and plays good with 2-4 players. Initial games may feel like they run a little long but as you get more experienced it's probably about a 45min/player game. Read the manual play the game then read the manual again. There are a few stumbling blocks you may hit in the rules when it comes to player vs player combat and how NPC's hunt. The info is all there. But you just need to play it a bit to see how the rules all work in conjunction.

It's an awesome game can't state that enough.
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Scott M.
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Quote:

1. I've heard a lot about balancing this game through house rules and variants and the like. Do you think this game is unbalanced?


Played several time, 2 player and 3 player , No balance issues. Love the game.

Quote:

2. I've heard about several variants. Are any of them good/must-use? Are any of them official (made by the designer(s))?


Don't use variants, IMHO variants create conditions not play tested and can make or break a game after use. There is an FAQ with some official options there you might take a look at such as harder game modes and such.

Quote:

3.I've heard a lot about downtime and games lagging. Do you find this to be an issue in the games you play? Does it get better as your group gets more experienced or does it get worse?

Game flow is good and down time is minimal between players. You will always have more down time than not your first game or two as players learn the mechanics, but after that any slow down is due to AP.

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Nate Owens
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Any balance issues you hear about are probably from inexperience. It's a little like the base game of Battlestar Galactica that way. It may seem out of whack one way or the other, but when you know the game well it'll be about even.

The game is amazing right out of the box. Definitely one of the best games to come out in the past couple years.
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The downtime is only troublesome to players who aren't engrossed in the game or its theme I think. I won't lie, it can occasionally be a tad on the long side, but I (and the players I prefer to play with) are really into the game so we're all keenly interested in the fate and fortunes of the other players at the table.

The game tells a great story, so to me there isn't as much distinction between "my turn" and "someone else's turn." Both are exciting!
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Scott M.
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SirHandsome wrote:
The downtime is only troublesome to players who aren't engrossed in the game or its theme I think. I won't lie, it can occasionally be a tad on the long side, but I (and the players I prefer to play with) are really into the game so we're all keenly interested in the fate and fortunes of the other players at the table.

The game tells a great story, so to me there isn't as much distinction between "my turn" and "someone else's turn." Both are exciting!



That's how i see the game when we play.!!
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Tim C.
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How does this game compare to Star Trek Fleet Captains?

I've heard that they are somewhat similar games and some describe ST:FC as Merchants and Marauders lite. Is this a fair comparison?

I've posted this question in another thread so I apologize for the redundancy, but this thread seemed more appropriate.
 
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djedi gamer wrote:
JeVo wrote:

I play without the cutthroat variant,
and as pirate I always buy my frigate.
The ship is made for merchant raiding ...


... and every merchant player can easly sink it.

Not in my experience. I also play without the cutthroat variant and buy frigates more often than not. JeVo has it right. Perhaps the players in your group weren't cut out to follow the jolly roger. arrrh
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pixel pusher wrote:
I've posted this question in another thread so I apologize for the redundancy, but this thread seemed more appropriate.

I think starting a thread in the Recommendations Forum would be the best way to do it.
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