Review: Dread Pirate – League of Pirates

Rating: ★★★½☆

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. Continue reading

Review: Dread Pirate – Buccaneer’s Revenge

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Front Porch Classics has a reputation for tabletop games that are a) expensive as all hell and b) worth every penny. They bring an old world craftsmanship to their games that makes them virtual works of art, and playing them therefore seems to feel just a bit more authentic and worthwhile than it does when breaking out the more bourgeois Parker Bros variety. But alas, sometimes economy must outweigh art, and it’s in this vein that Front Porch Classics has introduced its Discovery Edition games. The quality of these sets remains high, but the metal and wood has largely been replaced with the more ordinary (and affordable) plastic and cardboard.

Dread Pirate: Buccaneer’s Revenge is the Discovery Edition’s direct answer to Old Century Dread Pirate (truly one of the most glorious pirate games on the market.) The play area and pieces are virtually identical in shape, if not material, with the only significant difference being the cards. In the Old Century version, the goal was to plunder towns and each other, and to end the game with the most booty – fairly straightforward. But Buccaneer’s Revenge has modified gameplay, sending players forth on a number of missions dictated by drawn cards. The ultimate goal is still to gather booty, and players can still bombard each other in combat, but the additional missions serve to add a bit more variety along the way. And what’s more, upon completing missions, players earn booty and skills that they can use in the future. Continue reading

Review: Old Century Shut the Box

Rating: ★★★☆☆

As anyone that’s played Front Porch Classic’s Dread Pirate knows, this is a company capable of making some gorgeous, heirloom quality games. But where Dread Pirate was full of gold and silver doubloons, lovely multi-colored jewels, and gorgeous metal ships, Shut-the-Box is surprisingly plain – a box with 9 numbered tiles mounted in it, and two wooden dice. It might cause one to say, “it’s very nice looking, but is it fun? And more importantly, what in the world does it have to do with pirates?”

Answering the second question first, while other board games are based on recreating the pirate fantasy, Shut-the-Box recreates the reality – this, in fact, is the very game many a pirate and sailor actually played during those long voyages. Whether drunk on the decks, or drunk in a tavern, some version of Shut-the-Box was likely close at hand.

So on to the second question – is it fun? Continue reading

Review: Dread Pirate

Rating: ★★★★☆

There are several pirate table-top games out there, and many of them are quite good. But few conjure a feeling of old-world piracy so effectively as Dread Pirate from Front Porch Classics. Packaged in a real wooden chest, from the moment you remove its contents of metal doubloons, glass jewels, and even a cloth playing “board”, every aspect of this game seems as though it were stolen straight from the captain’s cabin. It’s as if it were specifically designed to be played over rum by candlelight – preferably while a storm wages outside. Continue reading