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Pirates of Nassau

Posted by admin On February - 25 - 2012

Length: 90-150 minutes
Actual Length: 90-150 minutes
Age: 10+
Players: 3-5

Best with: 3 players

“Nassau. Lovely town. So much to see and do. But I’d picked a rueful time to visit, for the eve of my arrival the town came under siege by Black Smoke James—named for the cloud of black smoke he created to baffle his enemies. He was desirous to appoint himself magistrate of the island—a detail of grave concern to the man who a priori held the position.”―Jack Sparrow

*chuckle” oh, Cap’n Jack Sparrow you should have stopped after the first movie, then we probably would all still like you. Pirates of the Caribbean, the movie, has absolutely nothing to do with Pirates of Nassau, the board game, but I needed a good pirate quote! And this one pertaining to Nassau too, SCORE!

Although I’m tired o’ t’ Pirates o’ t’ Caribbean and their gazillionth sequeal, one thin’ I don’t think i’ll get tired of? Pirates o’ Nassau! Now, I’m still figurin’ this game out and by all means do not have it down in t’ slightest, but I feel playin’ it for t’ first time last night and then stayin’ up until t’ wee hours o’ t’ mornin’ just t’ play it again, be a very good sign.

And “Avast Ye!”, this post will be anythin’ but short o’ pirate talk! “Ayyyy matey, let’s get on with it then!

Too much pirate? I’m going overboard aren’t I? Aaarrrggghhh!!! walk t’ PLANK SWABBIES!!!

Yo ho ho…heh, heh…  Okay, okay…i’m finished.  On to ‘Pirates of Nassau!’

Pirates are pretty cool, and a game about pirates is even cooler, but a really good game where you get to be a pirate? Now, thats freakin’ awesome! In Pirates of Nassau you are in competition to be the most infamous pirate of Nassau. And you of course do this by becoming the most notorious, powerful, richest and low cunning pirate of them all! (all being the other 2-4 people you are playing with).

There are some really unique mechanics to this game and it’s themed perfectly, but to understand what I mean by this you will first need a brief overview of the gameplay.

The sequence of play takes a full game or so before you feel comfortable and understand what you are doing, but if you follow the correct sequence laid out for you and don’t jump ahead in zeal, then you should be fine (I admittedly did this in my first game and threw the game off a bit for everyone, and by the game, I mean the ending…whoopsies!)

Anywho, everyone starts the game with a tiny ship, 3 dice, a treasure, chest, and a small deck of character cards. Everyone rolls their dice and places them on their ship keeping the face-up values. You then take turns placing your die on the board which affect your ships movement. You can encounter various things at sea like ports, merchant ships, or travel out further into sea for even more options and loot! Each of these encounters allow you to do different things; for instance you can plunder a merchant ship or ransom a hostage. Once all players have placed their 3 dice then all pirates must determine their notoriety for that round. Whoever is the most notorious gets benefits later on. But first you must fight the Royal Navy, who are out to feed the fish with ye! And of course if you are the most notorious, you will be their biggest target. If you can’t out run them and/or out fight them, then you loose have your loot and half your notoriety. Makes sense right?

All pirates then return to Nassau and can turn their loot and plunder into ship upgrades and hire additional crew. The most notorious gets first dibs. Ship upgrades can include a bigger ship, better sails, and of course more guns! Hiring crew will give you special bonuses throughout the game as well, that you can re-use each round. Once everyone has purchased, everyone gets the opportunity to stash some pieces of eight in their treasure chest before preparing for their next voyage. The board is replenished according to the directions, and crew member bonuses are flipped up for use again, and everyone rerolls their dice and sets back out to sea and thus a new round begins. Player with the most Notoriety gets to set sail first. So being notorious pirate is very important! The game continues for a number of rounds until the Royal Navy “Game End” card is drawn, which is in the last few cards of the deck, at that point the game ends immediately.

Points are scored according to the number of players for the following categories:

• Most Notorious Pirate (most Notoriety points on the Notoriety track)
• Most Motley Crew (most Motley Crew points found at the bottom of each crew token)
• Best Ship (Best Ship points located on the ship and ship upgrade tokens)
• Richest Pirate (most treasure in ye treasure chest!)

There are a lot of symbols in this game! But surprisingly, after a play through, you’ve pretty much leaned them all. They are well thought out and easy to read. However, colors are a bit hard to see at times, so make sure you are playing in good lighting. The components are decent enough, one of my ships did come with a broken sail, but that is easily fixable.  Gung Ho Games is a new publishing company, with probably not a whole lot of funding, so I can’t really complain. The biggest quibble thus far was the hostages and treasure chests. They are made out of light cardstock and need to be assembled carefully. The treasure chest really isn’t an issue because you rarely touch it except when putting pieces of eight in it. The hostages, however, fall over easily and are pretty delicate. I think they could easily be an at home fix by just adding some weight to the base by various methods which I’ll leave to your creativity.

Now onto the goodies! One of my favorite mechanics in this game is ship movement. You’ll notice 3 levels of sea on the board. The face-up value on your dice roll allows you to move along these levels. The top level starting with #1 generally being the least valuable, all the way out to far away seas with the greatest value ending on #20 (see left). This is also where a great deal of the games strategy comes into play. For example, You can look around at other players dice rolls and perhaps try to block them from plundering a merchant ship they might really need. However, if you are indeed blocked you can always change the direction and/or distance of your ship.

Direction: you can move along the sea track in either direction, forward or backward. In the example above, for yellows series of turns, they moved forward 3 spaces, then forward 5 spaces, then backwards 6 spaces.

Distance: Red ‘sacrificed’ both of his first 2 dice by placing them in the “7th” and “14th” track spaces in order to get all they way out to the far seas to plunder a very valuable merchant ship.

Once you play the game you’ll understand both players resulted in the same number of goods, but Red only had to fight one ship in order to get those goods and he can turn those pieces of eight into whatever combo of goods he desires. This will make more sense after you break open the game and play… but trust me, its pretty freggin’ neat!

The theme is perfect. And I don’t  mean because it’s about pirates. What I mean is, lots of games kind of tack on a theme. But this game is really built around the theme itself. Plundering merchants, fighting off the pesky Navy, looting ports, capturing and ransoming hostages (or making them walk the plank!), building up your crew, upgrading your ship, and doing this all of these things in whatever fashion you choose! Options! Options! Options! This game is not just a mere pirate battle game, it’s an entire pirate campaign!

There’s a lot of other really good mentionable’s but just know its a blimey good time! Fair Winds!

Character cards: Four Buccaneers and one Buccaneer Beauty! (Beauty – The best possible pirate compliment for a woman, and in this case a pirate woman)


Final-Final Thoughts

Overall: 8

medium-hard not too hard to learn, more difficult to master