Salt of Sea + Sea of Madness Expansion Review by Thomas

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Quick Look: Salt of Sea + Sea of Madness Expansion

Designer: M. Evan Collene
Artists:M. Evan Collene
Publisher: Arctic Puffin Games
Year Published: Successfully funded on Kickstarter Link at bottom (Estimated July 2024)

No. of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: minutes.
Find more info HERE.
From the Publisher:

Take the Helm!

Raise the sails and gather your crew! In Salt of Sea pirate captains fight to build their fleet of ships and galleons to rule the seas. Players can build, steal, and dig for cards to gain advantage. Upgrade your ships to galleons for more strength and shoot cannons to sink your opponents.

On your turn you can take any two actions (even two of the same action) you can draw a card, exchange cards, build, or play cards from your hand. You need a timber, rope, and canvas card to build a ship. You can upgrade a ship to a galleon with a cannon and treasure card. Cannon cards can also be used to sink other player’s ships. The first pirate captain to build their fleet to one Galleon and two Ships wins the game!

Be a pirate Captain and lead your fleet to Victory!

Note:  This review is based on a digital copy of the game and may not accurately reflect the final version of the game.



I typically utilize simpler games like Salt of Sea + Sea of Madness as warm up games for my gamer game nights. The game is quick to set up and easy to teach. There are really only 4 actions that a player can take, but those actions can lead to other things happening. The goal of the game is to build the ships of your fleet to where you have a Galleon and 2 Ships, all the while defending against the other players’ fleets. I would classify this game as a card driven race to the end type of game. Salt of Sea would be a good game for a family game night, but probably won’t make it to the table during a game night with more hard core gamers.

Rules & Setup:

The rule book is a simple small form tri-fold rulebook. It includes setup instructions, the actions each player may take, and rules needing further explanation. The expansion rule book lists the new cards in the game and how they fit in with the base game gameplay.

Note:  Since this was a demo game it is likely the rule books were not in their final form.

The setup is simple and not time consuming. Players shuffle the Main card deck, the Galleon card deck, and the Ships card deck and place them on the table. The Immediate Cannons cards are also placed on the table. If playing with the expansion, the additional Main cards are shuffled in the Main card deck, and the Sea Chest card deck is shuffled and placed on the table. Each player is dealt 4 cards from the Main deck as their starting hand. A starting player is chosen randomly.


Theme and Mechanics:
In Salt of Sea you are a Pirate Captain trying to build up your fleet of ships so you can rule the seas. You acquire items that will either help you build your fleet or attack the other players so their fleet doesn’t get too powerful. The first player to build a Galleon and 2 additional Ships is the winner.

The mechanic of the game is simply card based play with a race to the finish line. Each turn a player takes two of four actions, Draw, Exchange, Play, or Build. Draw gives a player 1 new card. Exchange lets a player discard up to 4 cards and draw the same number of cards. Play lets a player put 1 of their cards into play. And Build allows a player to build or upgrade their Ships, using 3 and 2 cards respectively.


Salt of Sea is played over an indeterminate number of rounds. After the game is set up, players take turns performing 2 actions (described above). The first two actions are for hand building and manipulation, trying to get the correct cards for the second two actions. The second two actions affect either the current player or another player on the board. The Play action can affect either one, while the Build action only has direct effects on the current player, with potential follow on actions that could affect another player.

Play continues until one player has successfully built a Galleon and 2 smaller Ships. That player immediately wins the game.


What is done well:

There are two types of ships in the game, Galleons and Ships. You have to build a Ship before you can upgrade it to a Galleon. The Ships and Galleons are not all the same. They have different immediate actions and different strengths. This adds an element of unknown when building ships, which can enhance gameplay.

The game design includes a hand limit of 8 cards. At the end of a players turn they must discard down to 8 cards. This makes a good limiter on the strategy of draw and hold then play in rapid succession. Without the hand limit a player could spend most of the game just drawing cards and then playing a bunch of them to win the game. Limiting cards makes the players think about when to play which cards.

By spreading the Goats out across the play area, it makes it so a player can’t focus solely on one area. It also means that the laying of Land cards is fairly cooperative, what works for one player will also likely work for the other players with Goats in the same area. This makes the laying of Land cards very strategic. You want them to work well for you and limit their benefit to the other players.


What some may find issue with:

The game could be not fun for a player who is picked on. The goal is to build ships, but if your ship is attacked as soon as you build it, this could be frustrating. If you have a player that tends to hoard cannon cards and then play them, in such a fashion, the receiving player could feel like they don’t have as many options.

The game is fairly balanced, but there are extreme cases that could break the game. For example, cannon cards are placed under a ship to indicate a hit. The card(s) stay there until the ship is sunk. So, if all the players hit ships but do not sink them, there is a scenario where all of the cannon cards will be in play on the table and there will be no more in the draw deck. Players may be left wondering what can be done. Thankfully other cards also include cannon shots, so it may be possible to keep playing, but this would extend the game for a bit.

Final Thoughts:

Salt of Sea was enjoyable to play. I was able to figure out strategies by the second playthrough. The game is interesting in its simplicity, but allows enough options for game play to not let the game get stale too quick. The expansion, Sea of Madness, adds elements to the game that were needed to enrich the playing experience. I would have fun playing this game with younger kids or those just getting into gaming.

Players Who Like: Card driven game play, race to the finish game play, and build and attack game play
After reading Thomas Shepherd’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting SALT OF SEA – A Pirate Card Game was just successfully funded on KICKSTARTER from Feb 20 2024 – Mar 21 2024, and 172 backers pledged $6,593 of its $1,500 goal. Check it out HERE.
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Check out SALT OF SEA – A Pirate Card Game and Arctic Puffin Games on:


Thomas Shepherd- Reviewer

I grew up loving to solve puzzles, play games, and have fun.  In my younger years I had fun playing pencil games, enjoyed the creativity of playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, and generally hanging out with others. My favorite thing to do was to make puzzles of all kinds, mazes, word games, picture games, etc.

Sadly my career took me in a different direction, solving computer problems rather than gaming problems.

Gaming came back into my life, though, in a big way about 15 years ago, and I have held onto it since. I still enjoy designing games and have 9 published titles, which I did through my own game publishing company, Toresh Games, prior to the Covid pandemic. Sadly I was not able to sustain the company through the pandemic.

I highly encourage people to play games, make friends, and have fun. As a game enthusiast, I would love to see a return to games as the best social media platform for the masses.

All of Thomas Shepherd’s reviews can be found HERE.


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