Shane, Eric and I played something I am calling “The Kitchen Sink” Merchants & Marauders. I recently purchased the Seas of Glory expansion for this game and I am eager to try it out. It adds something like 12 modular upgrades and variants players can mix and match to add exactly the level of complexity they desire. Of course I want to add the maximum level of complexity so I can have the most premium pirate experience.
I may do a detailed review of this expansion at a later time but you give you a general idea of what this expansions adds:
Contraband cargo adds an interesting new twist for generating income through cargo for both merchant and pirate players by accepting a little risk. Delivering contraband to the port listed on the card pays 10 gold for a single cargo item. This is awesome for pirate ships which have small cargo holds anyway, but is also good for merchants because you can have multiple ports to travel to to still get paid. Every two cumulative contrabands delivered earns a glory point.
Weather (wind spinner) opens and closes opportunities for traveling around the map. If you travel with the wind you get a free movement action, and if you travel against the wind you must pay two movement actions. Sometimes windmight completely mess up your plans, but other times it will offer you a great path forward! It’s random, but feels thematic.
Favors can be used to mitigate luck by letting you re-roll dice or redraw cards at critical moments. This is great when you really need to get a good cargo pull, or to not waste an entire turn missing a scouting roll. You can have up to five favors at a time and you can buy them for two gold each as your final action at any port.
Crew morale forces you to keep your crew happy either through consistent glory gain, or monetary payments. Having a happy crew also offers a very easy way to actually get ship specialists! In the original game getting a specialist feels almost impossible. You need to get a glory card which offers you the opportunity to get one if you go to a specific place and succeed on a roll. You would be lucky to get one in a game. But with a happy crew, you can just get one for free at any port!
Of course there is also the typical more, more, more! More ships, weapons, mods, events, rumors, missions, glory cards! The biggest general change these make to the game is to lengthen it. Which might seem bad, but is actually good. One of the biggest complaints about this game is that it ends just as it’s ramping up. Once all the players get nice ships suddenly it feels like a game ends. Now with the crew morale mechanic your income is essentially “taxed” having to pay your crew a salary. I am only one game deep, but I think these are positive changes.
Anyway, let’s get to the game report. I got off to a good start because I picked up a sweet mission called Letter of the French Marque which turned me into a French privateer. This means whenever I performed a merchant raid on any non-French nation I received a bonus three gold. This made it easy for me to consistently earn 12+ gold from merchants raids and gain glory points which naturally kept my crew in good spirits.
Meanwhile Hart had a captain who let him buy ship mods for only one gold, and he made use of that decking out his sloop into a real gun boat. He also had some decent luck with merchant raids and delivering some contraband cargo.
Shane… Well Shane’s crew hated him so much they mutinied and killed him. So he had an early reset, at which point he got a very strong pirate captain with insane stats, but he chose the merchant ships. Maybe he knew something I didn’t but unfortunately with such a setback he was unable to make anything happen.
At a critical moment I found myself slightly wounded with 40 gold on my ship floating off the shore of Old Providence. Hart spotted me and seized the opportunity to attack me and steal my gold! It wasn’t a very epic battle as I was quickly overcome and crushed by his legendary pirate sloop. Lucky for me I had a the “Ship with a History” glory card which let me new captain start the game with the broken remains of my old ship. Despite the damage, that ship did have some mods and weapon upgrades still on it which gave me a bit of a boost.
I got back on track doing merchant raids and started earning more glory points and stockpiling more money. I decided to get myself a bigger ship. This turned out to be a pretty stupid idea because I think I could have just won the game by stashing my money… I guess I was blinded by revenge as I committed myself to getting a war ship to find Hart and sink his ass. I saw that he wanted to come home and stash gold so I camped his home town waiting for him. Unfortunately he isn’t totally stupid so he didn’t go home on his turn… Passing it back to me. Lucky for me I was only 3 glory points from winning and the wind was in my favor. I could take a free move action toward my home, do a quick merchant raid to earn 12+ gold for a glory point leading me with 20+ gold to stash and I would still have enough actions to get home and stash it. It was an epic final turn but I got it done to steal the game.