By and large – and this isn’t necessarily a criticism – pirate tabletop games strive to emulate ship-to-ship combat, allowing players to travel between islands and blast cannons at each other. League of Pirates, however, takes a different approach.
Front Porch Classics has brought us some wonderful pirate games, with League of Pirates being from their new – more affordable – Discovery Edition line. In this game, two players face off to build their crews. Each has a board with openings representing crew vacancies, which they can fill with cardboard coins of quartermasters, mates, captains and the like.
To build a crew, each player rolls their dice to determine which one gets to make a move that round. Theoretically, the entire game could proceed with only one player ever doing anything (although the laws of averages are wildly against it.) Should they win the roll, the player can then opt to draw crewmen from a bag, kidnap crewmen from their opponent’s ship, or do any of several other things aimed towards filling their barracks before heading to sea.
In principle, it’s a simple enough game. But therein lies the beauty – gameplay quickly takes on its own rhythm. Rather than the larger, open ended gameplay of sailing and exploring styled games, this one is rather limited in scope, allowing things to proceed quickly even as the players try to outwit each other, and (of course) stab each other in the eye.
Game materials are high quality – the dice are wooden, and the game pieces are sturdy cardboard. Gameplay is rapid and fun – the only potential shortcoming is that it’s limited to only two players.
Definitely a recommended game for anyone seeking something different on a stormy, stuck-indoors sort of night.