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Subject: The Kaiser's Pirates - another review rss

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Gustavo Vazquez
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Board Game: The Kaiser's Pirates

(By user Desaix)


Depending of your understanding of the word "wargame", maybe you will not consider "The Kaiser's Pirates" one. On one hand, it's about the German raiders of WWI attacking unsuspected merchant ships, and British warships attacking the Germans. Looking from this side of the river, it's a wargame. But on the other hand, the theme is heavily pasted upon the mechanic - it could be about cavemen hunting wild animals, or about knights trying to defeat monsters...

Anyway, I rather prefer the WWI theme rather than the others… the pictures on the cards are very beautiful and faithful to its historical counterparts, and the actions make sense. But it's good to let you know that you won't revive in your table anything from WWI, really.

So, let's examine the game itself. It's good? Yes, it is - it's fast, creative, it can be played from 1 to 4 players, it's short so you can fill that 1 hour easily, the cards are very nice, and can be a lot of fun. thumbsup

But I must take another thing out of the way… the rulebook is not that good. You must read some times to really comprehend it. Some very important rules are sumarized in a small sentence that you will overlook, and some useless informations are repeated many times. But the good news is - the game is simple to learn! I believe the 24 pages manual could be resumed in no more than 8 pages…

Board Game: The Kaiser's Pirates

(A raider. Picture by user mongoose27.)


The game has 3 rounds and at the end of each one the players will count how many VP they have earned - usually by sinking merchant ships. The one with the most gets some Round Points (in a 4 player game, the first player gets 4 point, i.e.). The player with most RP in the end of the 3 turns is the winner.

You begin the round with 3 warships/raiders and 3 merchant ships. You will always have 3 merchant ships in play - if you loose one or more, they are replaced. But if you loose a warship or raider you must play some special card to get another one.

Basically you have 2 things to do in your turn - attack your opponent's merchant ships or his warships. You can play your action cards for one of two things - you can use them to Intercept another ship or to use it's event. If you are attacking a merchant ship, you play the card as an Intercept and choose among your warships/raiders one to attack a choosing merchant. If you want to attack one of your opponent's warships, you play the card Intercept and use it itself as a ship (they represent a British vessel). Every ship has some dice to attack and one or two to deffend (they can be D4, D6, D8 and D10). The highest single value wins (drawns go to the defense).

Board Game: The Kaiser's Pirates

(An action card, with the action "Intercept!" by the side. From user mongoose27.)

If the attack wins, the enemy's ship can be damaged - from now on, it will get a -2 in his defense. But if the attack doubles the defense, the attacked sinks the ship and adds it to his Victory Pool (to be counted at the end of the round).

If the attack misses, the defense can try to go to a safe harbour by playing dices - if it gets there, the ship's VP is added to it's owner.

Warships are very strong and it's very hard to beat them. The raiders are simply weaker warships, and they enter in play hidden, so you must play some special card to reveal them - so they can be attacked as the warships.

Another thing that is worth mentioning - you buy one card/turn, but usually you must spend two or more to make an useful attack. So, you must not spend the cards all at once - and in some turns, invariably, you will just buy one card without doing anything. ninja

That it, basically. Besides that you will have cards that add something to your die rolls, that can be used as submarines, that allow you to attack more than one ship, etc.

You can play Kaiser's Pirates as a solitaire too. There's a deck you use to decide which actions your opponent is doing. I sincerely think this option is too easy and I don't think you should buy the game for this reason. It's good to learn the mechanics, 'though.

So, should you buy it? If you are a purist, if you want faithful reconstructions of the events of war, just look elsewhere. If you want a good card game with an interesting theme in it (instead of sheeps and knights), go ahead! And if you like pirates... arrrh




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Paul Bradshaw
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An interesting review that certainly conveys the simplistic pleasure to be drawn from this particular gaming experience.

I am a recent convert to tell the truth, though initially I was more attracted to it's theme rather than potential game-play. An early concern for me, as I have mentioned elsewhere on here, was whether a card game warranted the retail price that this product dictates. After months of trolling e-bay for potential auctions I realised that I would have to bite the bullet and pay full wack. Whilst I'm still not convinced that the physical product you get warrants the price, it's a good game that is easy to grasp and play and (for me) has a high re-play factor.

Where I would go in a different direction from the OP is that I often purchase games on a solo basis first, with multi-player option being a welcomed second if it occurs. I have to say that I think the solo varient of this works well and provides enough variety of experience to tick the box on that front. The few games that I have played thus far have generally been fairly close run affairs. I have had one run away victory, but in the last round that I set up I was nearly always playing catch up with the PP. All that said, I really do look forward to playing this on a 3 or 4 player basis, as I can already see how the enjoyment factor of this game would really notch up a level.

As a wise man once said to me on here, if you are primarily interested in the theme then the gameplay and production values will also not let you down.
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Gustavo Vazquez
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Hirsty9Owls wrote:
Whilst I'm still not convinced that the physical product you get warrants the price, it's a good game that is easy to grasp and play and (for me) has a high re-play factor.
I agree. The list price ($49) is really too high - it should be something like $30...
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