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Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! Kickstarter Preview



Quick Look: Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates!

Designers: Glenn Drover and Don Beyer
Artists: Mark Page and Jared Blando
Publisher: Forbidden Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2-5
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 30-60 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Heads up: This is a prototype copy of Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates!, and components, art, and rules are subject to change. The Kickstarter launches on November 10, 2018.

Review:


Pirates are always looking for the biggest booty (take that how you will), but when there are other pirates hunting in your area, the race is on to pillage the most ships, collect the most treasure, and be the first to reach the famed Spanish Treasure Galleon at Trinidad!

Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! is a deck-building game for 2-5 players in which players control three pirate ships—one on each track—moving from merchant ship to merchant ship (raiding, of course) and from port to port in order to collect the most cargo, trade that cargo for treasure, and be the first to reach Trinidad and, by association, the Spanish Treasure Galleon (which earns you even more points).

The game is super simple to learn—even for someone who is unfamiliar with deck-building—which is a great perk from the start. Explaining the game took maybe five minutes, and from there, we were off. The game itself is a series of choices (as are most games, I understand), including which ports and merchant ships to hit up or miss (in order to pull ahead of rival pirates so as to pillage other merchant ships further down the road…er, sea lane?), and which ships on which tracks to focus on (and when). I never wanted to let the other players get too far ahead of me on any given track, so there was a lot of hedging and waiting before moving certain ships.

My Experience


As I mentioned, getting into the actual game was a breeze. The prototype rule book I received didn’t have any pictures in it as of yet, and it was still easy to understand. When the rule book is finished, it’ll be even better. I looooove a good rule book!

The gameplay itself was straightforward, too. There were only a couple times during our first play that we had to refer to the rule book, and that was to make sure we were doing it right (spoilers: we were). The board looked great, even in its prototype state. The art on the cards were wonderful, too. Cartoony, yet not over the top; embellished, yet accurate to a pirate’s life. In fact, the art was done by Disney Imagineer Mark Page, so that’s pretty cool!

With other deck-builders, players acquire new cards every turn. This game played a little differently in that it took a turn or two to make it to the first location that gave you a new card. (Cards are acquired by plundering merchant ships and visiting ports.) Sometimes, if my opponents were faster than me, they would plunder a ship, grab the cargo, and take a card, and then there would be no more ship for me to loot, thus no new card to acquire. This made it important for me to get ahead of the other players, which sometimes meant sailing past ports and other merchant ships in order to get the most bang for my doubloon. Of course, starting as the first player grants no bonuses, whereas starting as the last player grants a heap more bonuses (with more bonuses handed out to all those in between, which helps make up for such high-sea robbery). 

Because I didn’t always acquire a card each turn, it sometimes felt as if it were taking too long to build my deck. At the same time, I noticed that even during games where I was behind, I was usually able to catch up well enough by focusing on acquiring cards found at ports. Still, I would have liked a bit more control over when and where I could acquire cards. As plundering merchant ships was one of the more common methods of obtaining new cards, I felt as if they had a big advantage, especially early on. But, of course, that’s where the strategy comes into play. I needed to determine which ships I wouldn’t make it to in time, which ones were achievable, and play my cards accordingly. Despite initially feeling that there was an advantage to those who were able to plunder first, the games did end with fairly close scores, so it all worked out in the end.

Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! Board Game set collection

I also enjoyed the set-collection aspect of the game. The cargo cubes on each merchant ship correspond to various treasure tiles. In order to purchase a treasure tile, players must trade in a certain amount of cargo cubes in the appropriate color combination. Because the cubes determined which treasure tiles I could buy, it gave me direction and focus as I sailed the seas. I would inevitably pass up a merchant ship or two just so I could make it to the one with the colored cubes I needed to buy the most expensive treasure tiles. A nice touch to a deck-builder, for sure.

Setup:

Starting setup for a 3-player game.

Each player begins with their own deck of ten cards (all starting decks are the same). Shuffle this deck and draw five cards. This is your hand. Likewise, shuffle the Merchant deck (the one with the coin icon in the top corner), as well as the Port deck (with the port icon in the top corner). Place both decks nearby (preferably far enough away from each other so it won’t be confusing), draw three Port cards, and place them face up near the game board. This is the Offering. Players are able to acquire one of these Port cards whenever they visit a new port. A Merchant card is drawn whenever a player plunders a merchant ship.

Each player takes four boats in their chosen color and places one on the start of each track. The fourth boat sits in front of the player, a reminder of who controls which color.

Shuffle the treasure tiles, and draw three times the number of players, putting them face up near the board. In a five-player game, there will be 15 treasure tiles on the table (and hopefully you have a big playing area, because these tiles are rather large).

Randomly draw cubes from the bag and place one cube on each merchant ship for every red dot next to that ship’s image. These are the cargo cubes players will steal from the merchants. Determine who will go first, and then give bonuses (according to the rule book) to players 2-5. The second player draws a random cargo cube from the bag, the third player gets to choose any cargo cube from the bag, the fourth player takes the top card (face-down) of the port deck, and the fifth player reaps the reward of being last by gaining any of the three port cards in the offering.

Gameplay:

Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates!  Board Game review; photo by Benjamin Kocher

Players take turns playing cards from their hands, moving boats, and using abilities. The active player plays three cards from their hand (not the traditional five or six in most deck-builders). The number at the bottom right of the card indicates how many spaces their ship gets to go when that card is played. Add up those numbers from all three cards played, and that’s how many spaces your ship can go. Alternately, players may opt to use a card’s special ability. To do so, simply follow the instructions on the card, and ignore the number value in the corner (i.e. using an action takes the place of the movement value).

Some Port cards have a skull-and-crossbones symbol on their upper right corner, while others have the symbol of cards. Others have no symbol there at all. Cards without a symbol are played as normal. Those with the cards symbol are played onto the table in front of the player who played them; these cards’ abilities are active throughout the game, according to the limitations noted thereon. Cards with the skull-and-crossbones symbol are immediately removed from the game once their ability has been used. Note that you can use that card’s movement value as normal (putting it in your discard pile and shuffling it back in to your deck once your deck runs out) as many times as you want; it’s only when the ability is used that it is removed from the game. 

Whenever a ship crosses paths with a merchant ship (i.e. a ship that still has cargo cubes on it; a ship icon on the track without cubes is considered to be already plundered, and therefore is not worth your time to stop for), that ship’s movement is finished. They then take all the cargo cubes for themselves, draw the top card of the Merchant deck, and add it to their discard pile (to be shuffled into their deck later). Similarly, when a ship reaches a port, that ship’s movement is finished (despite having more moves unused). That player then takes one of the three face-up cards in the Offering, or the top card of the Port deck. The player may then trade any cargo cubes for treasure tiles (trading for as many tiles as can be afforded). 

Once all the treasure tiles have been acquired by the players, more tiles are drawn—this time based on the amount of players, so if there are five players playing, five more treasure tiles are brought out once the original 15 are gone. This is the only time the treasure tiles are replenished. By this time, it’s quite likely that the game will end soon, so best start pillaging as fast as you can!

Once the active player has finished moving and pillaging/trading/etc., their turn is over, and they draw cards from their personal deck until their hand is once again at five cards.

The turn passes to the player on the left, and gameplay proceeds in this manner until one ship has reached Trinidad—thus pillaging the Spanish Treasure Galleon. The first player who reaches Trinidad gets a bunch of points, the player furthest away from Trinidad receives no points (single tear…), and all players in between first and last (as indicated by their position on the various tracks) receive varying amounts of consolation points.

Theme and Mechanics:


Pirates(!) is the theme of the game, and it is encapsulated quite well in the art and gameplay. Racing to be the first to get the most treasure is certainly a pirate-y thing to do, and the rule book also includes real facts from real-life pirate history! I found that to be pretty awesome.

As far as deck-builders go, the mechanics are simple. Five cards in your hand, play three (this part is unique from most deck-builders I’ve played), then draw back up to five at the end of your turn. When playing cards, either you use the number on the lower-right corner to move a ship, or you use its written ability, forgoing any movement in the process. The aspect of set collection is also a neat addition, and it definitely increases the complexity and "fun" factor of the game.

Artwork and Components:



The artwork is reminiscent of older-style cartoons. And, being illustrated by a Disney Imagineer, it’s easy to see some similarities in style. I like the art style on the cards, and the board looks great, as well.

Because this game was a prototype, I’m not able to speak on the components themselves at this stage. That said, the wooden boats looked good, the wooden cubes were fine, and the art is coming along quite nicely. I’m definitely impressed so far, and considering this is just a prototype, that’s a good sign.

The Good:


Very easy to learn, with simple rules that kept games moving. The set-collection aspect helps guide strategy, and is a nice addition to a deck-building game.

The Meh:
The time it takes to build the deck can sometimes seem like it takes longer than it should. I’ve had both yea’s and nay’s to that, so it would appear that it’s all according to one’s preference.

The mechanics are there, and the theme is there, but in the end, it just felt a little flat. It's possible that this was due to the race to the end, and once someone felt they were far enough ahead, they would book it to the Spanish Galleon at Trinidad. This isn't inherently bad, but it all depends on your preference. I'm going to go ahead and say right now that the reason I wasn't a fan of it is probably a personal preference. 

Final Thoughts:


Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! is a light deck-builder that introduces unique aspects to deck-building games. The game itself is easy to learn and easy to play. It’s a fine introductory game for non-gamers or those new to the deck-building mechanic. The racing aspect puts more emphasis on how fast a player can get points and get to the end, rather than building their deck for optimum performance. However, the racing aspect can also bring a hectic (in a good way) sprint for points and bonus points for being in the lead. It's a double-edged sword, and depending on your preferences, it could either cut you or be a thrilling mechanic that scratches that insatiable itch (you know, like that spot in the back that's always just out of reach).

For me personally, it wasn’t as extraordinary as the name suggested, and while it was enjoyable, it’s most likely one I’d choose to play specifically when playing with new gamers. Don’t take my lack of enthusiasm to mean the game isn’t good—it just doesn’t take hold of me as would other games. That said, Forbidden Games will definitely have plenty of people lining up to play it, as the mechanics are solid and gameplay is smooth.

Players Who Like:
Fans of deck-builders and pirate themes should check this game out. With aspects of Clank!, Splendor, and racing games, fans of those games and genres should check out Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates!

Check out Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! on:

                  

Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! is on KICKSTARTER now! Campaign ends December 5, 2018.


About the Author:



Benjamin Kocher hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He's a freelance writer and editor, and covers everything from rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Kocherb, and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.

Check out Benjamin's reviews here.


Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! Kickstarter Preview Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Benjamin Kocher on November 08, 2018 Rating: 5

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