Libertalia winds of galecrest, a pirate-themed board game from a then-unknown creator named Paolo Mori, was released in 2012. It was a small popularity thanks to its mix of bluffing and hand management, as well as the famous pirate motif, but it quickly faded away as supplies ran out.
It turns out that it’s a personal favourite of Stonemaier Games’ Jamey Stegmaier, who has decided to utilise his publishing house’s enormous clout to reprint it. Libertalia Winds of Galecrest (available on Amazon) shifts the action from the great seas to the upper sky, including new cards and components for a more modern look.
Libertalia Winds of Galecrest Board Game Review
What’s In The Box
Libertalia Winds of Galecrest is mostly a card game, with each player receiving an identical deck, and the cards themselves are disappointing. The art, which depicts anthropomorphic pirate animals, is weird and not suitable for play. The goal is to highlight the transition from the high seas to high fantasy, however the execution falls short.
Other elements are far superior. There’s a large bag of chunky plastic treasure tiles to choose from, similar to those seen in Azul, that slide and clack in a delightful manner when you search through them. Score dials let players keep track of their loot, and monetary tokens are kept in a cute little plastic treasure chest.
A board and some tiles to place on it to change the impact of the treasure tokens are the only additional components. It’s double-sided, with player aids written on both sides, and everything is set out neatly and efficiently to improve gameplay.
Rules and How it Plays
One player shuffles their deck of forty crew cards and draws six at random at the start of Libertalia Winds of Galecrest. The other players then go fishing in their own decks, pulling out cards that are identical. As a result, everyone begins with the identical cards. You must also draw one treasure tile for each player to place on the board for each day of the expedition. There are three such excursions, with the first one lasting four days and the others lasting five and six.
Every day, participants must secretly pick a card from their hand. There will be a rank number on the card, as well as one or more unique abilities. Once all players have made their choices, the cards are put in rank order, and their “day” powers are triggered in ascending order from left to right.
Then, in the reverse order, their “dusk” powers are triggered, highest rank first, and the owning player can choose a treasure tile from that day’s selection. These treasure tiles occasionally have a dusk effect that occurs when they are chosen. Finally, a “night” effect is applied to a few cards at the same time.
That’s pretty much all for the rules: the fundamental game flow is fairly simple to understand and teach. However, keep in mind that the devil is in the details. The unique abilities of both the crew and the tiles are diverse, and they liven up the proceedings like a tot of rum.
Simultaneously, the information needed to play strategically is displayed on the cards and tile effects, making the game appear more complex to newbies than the short rule booklet. The fundamental game flow is simple to learn and teach. However, keep in mind that the devil is in the details.
Let’s use an example to demonstrate this. The value of loot tiles isn’t uniform: one, the Relic, will cost you points if you gather it. So, if you have the rank 5 card Cabin Boy plus a handful of Relic tiles in your treasure, you might be inclined to play it. If the Cabin Boy is the leftmost card, which is likely given his rank 5, his “day” power pays you gold.
He prevents you from accepting any loot at “dusk,” which is quite useful if it’s a Relic. So he appears to be a no-brainer except that every other player will have a Cabin Boy and will be thinking the same thing. He isn’t likely to be the leftmost card any more, so you might want to rethink. Unless, of course, all the other players are thinking the same thing.
And so the decisions continue, like a galleon spinning in an infinite vortex, until you’ve exhausted all of your options and reached a conclusion. After the stress of waiting for the other players to arrive, you scramble up and down the scale, trying to figure out what the cascade of powers will be and what treasure you’ll get.
It’s a fun mechanic with a lot of room for bluffing, planning, and excitement. Simultaneous card selection also implies that your tactics can and will be derailed through no fault of your own, which can be unsatisfactory.
Some cards and most treasure tokens have a “anchor” power that triggers at the conclusion of each trip. These typically provide you more gold, but there are some entertaining outliers, like the hook token, which allows you to retain a card you’ve played in your tableau, which might be useful if it has a persistent “night” effect.
Libertalia Wind of Galecrest makes extensive use of the simple day, dusk, night, and anchor system to create some very captivating effect combinations, ensuring that its motley company is never bored. To promote player engagement, the other side of the board features a whole new set of treasure token effects.
Players receive six new cards for their hand before embarking on a new excursion, and here is where the action truly heats up. Despite the fact that all players receive the same six cards, it’s likely that they played different cards on the previous journey, resulting in everyone having distinct hands.
This adds a memory factor to the game, since you’ll have an edge if you remember what other players are holding; yet, it also expands the number of possible effect combinations. Despite the new blood, the arbitrary nature of simultaneous play makes the hour-plus play duration seem excessive.
One thing that surprises me about a game that depends on having a lot of cards working against one other is that it works well as a solo board game as well as a two-player board game. When playing solitaire, a rudimentary AI system selects cards from an opponent’s hand, along with a random “pilferer” card to shuffle the deck.
If both players hold cards that rank below it, a fake rank 20 card is used to penalise poor play by snatching a loot token. These are tidy, easy solutions that keep the game moving and enjoyable no matter how many players are present.
Where to Buy
Get it at Amazon
Get it at Stonemaier Games
Libertalia Winds of Galecrest doesn’t do its cheerful pirate motif credit with its ugly visuals and abstracted gameplay. However, this does not prevent it from being a fun light game with a decent balance of strategy and second-guessing. It won’t appeal to lovers of more complex tactics, but for the rest of us, it’s an enjoyable trip to the high seas, thanks to its simple rules and colourful components.
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- April 30, 2022