Glasgow (now), Thessaloniki (always)
Libertalia is one of the most intriguing and fun games i've played over the past few weeks.
It's a pirate-themed, card management game. The players, all pirates on the same conquered and having all the same cards/crew in their hands, have to analyze the cards' strengths and weaknesses, analyze their opponents, consider the booty (treasure) at stake, and choose to play one card from their hand accordingly. Cards have a number, setting each other apart as stronger or weaker. They also have abilities, which vary from card to card, granding players extra turns, ability to knoch out another player, extra money in the end etc. Each player selects a card to place on the board, and all players reveal their selected card at the same time. After sorting out who has the best card or whose card gets to go first in general, booty is collected. Booty can be either money (counted in doubloons), knives to kill other players' cards/characters, spanish officers (which kills off the player's own card) and cursed masks, which reduce the no. of doubloons you get. This happens six times, and counts as one round. At the end of each round, doubloons are awarded depending on what kind of treasure each pirate has collected. After three rounds, the one with the most doubloons, wins.
I tried to summarize the rules a bit, and in reality it's that simple. But, I can make it simpler for you: it all boils down to assessing your opponent. Your real objective is to try to figure out which card the other pirates are going to play and try to guess which treasure they'll go for. It's a game of psychology, of bluffing, and of good hand management, and this is why it's going to appeal a lot, in my opinion, to poker fans. The basic principles are the same: try to make the best out of your hand, even if it's a bad one.
And it's also not just about collecting treasure to earn points. It's also about ruining other people's plans as well. As any decent pirate would do, you will rob your opponents of their turns-of-play or even take some treasure that you might not really want, but they really wanted. So there's that element in the game as well.
The other big plus this game offers is the replayability factor. Since there's a hefty amount of cards in each player's deck, and only a few cards selected at each round, the combinations and variations are limitless, and can easily make one game session's winner to be next session's loser.
In terms of artwork, Libertalia is excellently designed: the card deck is beautifully drawned, each character on it appearing in full pirate-myth detail, the boards (main/scoring/players') are also appealing to the eye and fitting to the theme, and the tokens feature satisfactory detail.
Libertalia is a great game, especially when played with a bunch of players. It can be played with just two, but the more people involved, the more intriguing and brainy it gets and, let's face it, more fun. I highly recommend it. Have a go at it at least once, I am sure you will get as hooked as Cpt Hook