I just bought the game at Wal-mart and read the rules. I see people in these questions and the reviews talking about playing with more than 5 players compared to 2-3. Do they mean they play the game as normal with more players or are they using the rules about teams? If using teams, I'm not sure why a 6 player game of teams would be much different than a 3 player game. I guess the real question is can you just play the game normally with 6-8 players or do you need to use teams about 5 players?
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The game plays almost as well with six players as individual players as it does with five. I've never played individually with more.
But team play is quite different than normal play. The games will last a bit longer because of the strategizing but the game is even more enjoyable.
When you play as a team you sit next to your partner. You can look at each other's cards. You each get a turn before the other teams get their turns. Hands don't mix. It is certainly different than a two player game or even a two player game where each player got to take two turns in a row.
Great fun. I just wrote a session report on a team play game I participated in. Not too heavy on the details of play, but hopefully useful when capturing the flavor of the game. It should be availible on the site within the next few days.
You could certainly try playing under the singular rules with more than 5 but I think you may run into problems.
You are not allowed to attack a ship with a color someone else has already used against that ship. With 5 players, 1 player could lay a merchant ship and it is possible that each of the other 4 could reply with a different color attack - there is a possibility of every player being able to be involved on that one ship. The original player might even be able to capture the ship himself if he had the Admiral.
With 6 or more, you have made it impossible for all players to ever be involved in the same battle - and there just isn't the same intensity in knowing you can fight several smaller battles as opposed to knowing the possibility exists for one where everyone is involved.
Also, you dramatically increase the odds that a high valued merchant ship will show up but you won't be able to go after it because your best color has already been played. Or maybe all your colors have been played. Although you could expect that there will be more merchant ships in play at the same time (due to the extra players) - the chance that you get a dry spell of merchant ships still exists. In this case, if you don't hold any merchant ships in your hand, there aren't that many on the board right now, and you are locked out of playing on the ones that are there based on colors already present - then you are forced to draw. Although this should help you in the long run, it might be less fun in the short run.
In the partnership game, partners use the same color against any particular ship - so you wouldn't have the same "locked out" problem with 4 teams as you would with 8 individual players. I would guess, especially with 8 players, that it would seem like there aren't enough cards to go around. "I lost because there were so few merchant ships per person - and two of the best were played by the guy to my left and I never had a chance at those." With partners, sometimes one draws while the other plays, and you have a combined score pile - so I think the difference in how many cards can be drawn before you run out is less obvious and less detrimental.
I have a simple question. The rules state that with teams only the first player in each team checks for conquered merchant ships. If I play a merchant down, then my partner plays on it and it gets around to our turn again, and we are winning, do we keep the card or must we wait until the turn after since the check happens at the beginning of my turn and it hasn't go all the way around for my team yet?
I assume we get the card and that I'm reading too much into the rules.