Friday, January 18, 2013
Luckily Libertalia is a great pirate game that works its theme into the mechanics very well.
The aim of the game is to amass the most booty after 3 weeks of sailing the high seas. You do this by playing character cards each with there own power and initiative value. Powers are played out and booty is picked up. At the end of each week the booty is counted and any other effects dealt with. It all sounds very straight forward and it is, which makes it a good gateway game that non gamers should be able to get to grips with.
Setup is very straight forward, players each take there deck of 30 pirate cards. Every deck is the same so its how you use your cards that matters. The ship board is put on the table along side the scoring track.
The youngest player then shuffles his cards and deals out 9. The rest of the players then take those same matching 9 cards from their decks. Then the main board is seeded with booty tiles. There are spaces for 6 sets of tiles, each set is equal to the number of players. These are drawn from a bag and placed face up so everyone can see what booty is on the horizon.
6 rounds are then played out, one for each day of the week except for Sunday.
In each round players secretly pick their pirate and place them face down on their own player board. The cards are shown and placed on the main board in numerical order. The lowest being the ships parrot and the highest a Spanish officer. Card powers are then dealt with in order as long as they have a dawn symbol on them. Ties are broken with a second number.
Once all of the cars have been resolved, you go backwards through the cards with players picking a booty tile from that days area. Any card with a dusk icon also gets to use its power. Cards are then moves to the players pirate den.
The powers are varied, ranging from moving your booty to other players, discarding other players cards or just earning booty coins if they are still alive. Knowing what to play when and how the cards interact is part of the fun.
Night powers are then resolved if you have any pirates alive in your den. These usually allow you to earn more booty depending on what pirates you have in the den.
This set of actions runs through 6 times, with players using their pirates to hopefully get the best pick of the booty tiles. Finally Sunday is a day of rest. Booty is counted and scored and any pirate with an anchor symbol on display is resolved. All booty is then returned to the bag, pirate cards are returned to the box and the youngest draws another 6 cards.
Now things get interesting as players will have a mix of old and new cards, and again its what they choose and when will determine what booty they score.
After running through this 3 times for 3 separate weeks the final scores are tallied and the winner is the pirate with the most booty.
The mechanics are very simple, its using the pirates at the right time that's the key. Some of the booty tiles are good, some are bad so being able to move the cursed ones to another player helps. Also some of the booty tiles will kill off your pirate or even a pirate in an adjacent pirate den.
Libertalia supports up to 6 players and a game should take about an hour to play. Its more than a filler game and less than the main event of a gaming evening. But its a very good game with some lovely artwork and components. It's quite possibly my favorite pirate themed game.