12th Jan 2023 - Merchants & Marauders

by RobinSun, 15 Jan (Updated at Thu, 26 Jan)

It’s been a fortunate week for me this week. First there was the vote for games for this year’s tournament, which included two of my nominations – and two of my favourite games – in Vinhos and Bus. Looking forward to a few games of those over the coming months.

And to cap that off, I got to play my absolute favourite game this week, as David brought in his exquisitely painted copy of Merchants And Marauders. Even the base artwork is vividly colourful, and its depiction of adventure in the Caribbean, during the Golden Age Of Piracy, is a powerful spark for the imagination. It’s as richly thematic as they come.

Does fortune favour the brave? Not always, but my good fortune certainly continued as I followed a strategy of attacking everything – well, almost everything. My captain enjoyed special abilities along the Spanish Main, and I found good plunder early on among the merchant shipping there. Having thus antagonised the various naval powers, I spent the rest of the game lurking there, out of reach of the Dutch man o’ war that was prowling the Antilles. I never got further north than Barbados.

So I was not the bravest player in the game… that honour definitely went to Jon, who was less fortunate. He drew a card that gave him assistance from NPC pirates when he attacked the French, and duly took on a French frigate. But his pirate friends proved utterly useless and sank without a shot, leaving him to beat a messy retreat. More unfortunately still, that led him south, with all his treasure, to where I was waiting with my undamaged ship and obstinately lucky dice rolls.

So it’s fair to say that you need a bit of good fortune to win this game, which seems thematically fair. There’s some strategy too, but it’s all about the adventure really. You don’t really play this kind of game to win – you play it for fun. And – in my experience – even if you get repeatedly sunk, it really is a lot of fun.

Also at the club this week were Crystal Palace, Wayfarers of the South Tigris and a return visit for Frostpunk – with the same group that played it last week. They were, predictably, still there when I left; though it looked like they might have managed to finish it this time.

And we had first appearances for Weather Machine and Wormholes. According to BGG, Weather Machine is a complicated game, even by Vital Lacerda’s standards, so I was impressed that they finished around the same time as we did. Wormholes looks like a much lighter game, but the mechanics looked interesting – I’d be keen to see a review of that if anyone feels like writing one.


  • I
    Played Weather Machine. First time live as before it was on boardgame arena. Great game with a lot of options and a tight scoring finish. Very different tactics were used and all were viable for a winner's score.