Friday, August 12, 2011

Merchants & Marauders Review

Greetings Troops,

I have been looking at this game for some time now.  It has been receiving great reviews from numerous blogs and podcasts.  So here is a brief summary of the game ...

  • Published in 2010
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Approximately 2 hours for game play
  • 5 different ships types for a total of 26 ship pieces
  • 230 game cards
  • 16 captain types
The other night I was able to join Steve and his friend Luke to set sail into the Age of Piracy. This was the first time I actually set hands on the game and its board pieces.  I was happy to see the pieces were well made, durable and look fabulous !

We all took our seats with our adult beverages (grog, if you wish to pretend) and picked our Captains.To make it interesting we drew our captain cards randomly without looking.  Once we had the Captain, we chose one of the two starting ships, a sloop or a flute.  Each Captain has a "home" port where you can call home and stash gold during your adventure.

Board Setup for 3 Players

Various ship pieces

My first Captain ...
My first Captain Felipe De Los Reyes was my first random Captain I chose.  He had decent stats and being my first Captain I was not sure whether to turn to piracy or trade on the high seas.  He would find out how cruel the seas would be soon enough.

My first ship, a sloop. In port ...
As you enter port you are allowed numerous options.  The first is buying and/or selling cargo.  The tile shown above is "favored" trade of the port, meaning if you sell this cargo you earn more gold than selling other cargo types.  This is a major advantage to playing the merchant class but also helps pirates figure out what cargo to keep after capturing ships.

You are also able to upgrade your ship with special items.  It could upgrade weapons, crews or other items that add bonus to your ship.  Ships can be bought or sold as well in port.

Rumors and Missions can also be picked up at port.  These gain your crew a bounty of wealth or glory points if completed.  Our games had some of these cards in play.  One of which I sent naval ships after Luke for revenge of taking out Captain Los Reyes. 

The board in action ...

My second ship after the glorious demise of my sloop

My flute in the port of Trinidad

My first Captain, and the cost of his demise ... by the hands of Luke the Pirate

Stat board for your ship

My second Captain of the first game.

Luke and Steve battle in the high seas
Battles between ships are fast and furious.  The rules are not hard to understand and most pick them up with ease after a couple of battles.  Luke was the bloodthirsty pirate and had the evil honor of attacking the most player Captains.  Not only can player Captains attack but NPC pirate ships and naval ships will actively hunt once on the board.

My Captain of the second game ... a merchant favored Captain
The beauty of randomly picking Captains is the challenge.  Stats definitely play a part in the game.  For example, my Captain of the second game didn't have the stats to attack at a whim. Although his Spotting stat and Influence helped with other missions.  I played him as a merchant, scoring 9 glory points. 

The board in action of the second game

The feel and mechanics of this game are on spot.  The board and pieces are well made and make the game work.  I had a blast.  It is definitely a game that should be on any gamers bookshelf. I can't wait to get more games in at the WWPD war room. Thanks again to Steve and Luke for an awesome game night !

5 out of 5 grog barrels !

Be safe ... Keep the Paint flowing and the Dice rolling !!!

Joe ... aka Mezz


  1. Wow, 5 out of 5 barrels! I've only recently heard of this game, so I'm glad to see it reviewed by a 'local'. It looks and sounds pretty cool, pirates aren't exactly my thing but I'd give this a whirl nonetheless.

  2. this might be a game i have to run out and get now

  3. @ Mik ... I think you would enjoy it, it rings Captain Mik!

    @ cbaxter ... You will love it. I am sure your Dad, brother and you will get many hours of enjoyment!

  4. I just played it for the first time tonight. There is a lot going on, and a lot of rules, but it's pretty easy to get the hang of. The toughest part is getting used to the ship-to-ship combat rules when NPC naval ships and pirates attack you, or when other players attack you. We had to keep going back to the instructions until we finally got the hang of it (again, because there is so much going on).

    The components of the game are really well made, although I customized it by hand painting all of the tiny ships and replacing the cardboard gold coins with real metal doubloons. The game is BEAUTIFUL now!

    I generally prefer worker placement and pick-up-and-deliver type strategy games, but this one was a refreshing change, still challenging with some strategic thinking required, and a lot of fun to play!

    I rate it 9 out of 10 for the first play. I can't wait to play again!

  5. Awesome to hear you enjoyed it so much ! It is truly a fun game and your "tweeks" make it even more fun !