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Thread: boardgame: Merchants and Marauders

  1. #1
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Default boardgame: Merchants and Marauders

    Hello!

    Not sure if there are many boardgamers here, but I just got a new boardgame and can really recommend it: Merchants and Marauders.

    Set in the Caribbean, you captain a ship to haul goods and perform missions. You start out as non-pirate and while it is possible to win that way, becoming a pirate gives different options which may or may not give a tactical advantage.

    The gameplay is a bit a mix of Firefly and Black Fleet. As in Firefly, each captain (randomly assigned) has some special ability which influences your tactic. Whereas in Firefly each member of the crew also has abilities, in Black Fleet the crew is just a number that indicates strength in some battles. The missions, which require you to go to place X and meet some requirements or move stuff from A to B, in Merchants and Marauders are shorter than those in Firefly and have less requirements. In addition, you will most likely do far less missions than in Firefly. As in Black Fleet, you move cargo, but the missions and non-player captains (ships that are not controlled by a player but whose moves are based on event cards/rules) throw in some variety in the mix.

    There is a bit of a random factor, first in the captain you start with and second in the dice rolls which are used for battle. However, you can estimate your chances and have some ability to increase them (not as much as e.g. in Firefly) for some aspects, but the randomness does not block the game and does no seem to make it frustrating. (so far, the only game I know that has no random factor at all is Agricola in family version, in expert version it adds a small random factor in some cards you get). I have the feeling it has less long-term planning aspects than Firefly, partly as the missions are shorter and the board is much smaller.

    Once you get the rules, it feels a bit like a fast simplified Firefly, which I mean in a good way (fast still means 1-2 hours or so). It requires less tablespace (Firefly is HUGE) and is faster to setup. The publisher's website has some FAQs that clarify some aspects of the rules.
    pixar
    Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)

  2. #2
    Super MURCer UtwigMU's Avatar
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    How do you find people for board games?

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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Sometimes it is just the two of us, but we have some friends that like boardgaming. Once we organized an afternoon of gaming, where we had around 16 people over and played multiple parallel gaming sessions. It was fun for once, but a bit too much as you cannot really enjoy the games. As most games have a maximum of 4-6 players, it works out that not all of them can always make it, and there are two close friends that are always up for it and like the same games we do, so usually we invite them and are with 4 people in total. One of them is amazing at boardgames: a few rounds suffice for her to get it, and then she is one of the most dangerous players.

    Last week, we (this group of 4) met after work giving us an evening; just enough to play Merchants and Marauders, although we had some misinterpretations of the rules. For games such as Firefly, we plan to meet in the early afternoon in the weekend, so that it gives ample time to play (6-8 hours). Problem with games such as FireFly or Merchants and Marauders is that you need game enthusiasts. We have some games that have a much lower entry level (Carcassone, Galaxy Trucker, Sherlock and Black Fleet), some shorter but more complicated games (Race for the Galaxy, Citadels, Dominion) but our preference tends to go to the longer more complicated tactical games (Agricola, Merchants and Marauders, FireFly) and we have numerous expansions for each of them. The problem is that they are long games and you need people with experience (Agricola is still easy to grasp for someone who games but doesn't know this game as it is quite self-explaining - a few rounds suffice to show the mechanism). A problem specific for Firefly is the sheer physical size of the game. The other games fit on a round table of 110cm diameter, but for that one we need to put a separate table for the central board, in order to have enough space on the main table for the cards and for all players to put their ship (we also have to expansions that further expand the board). And then we need to add some small tables for drinks and so. So it takes a bit of preparation.
    pixar
    Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)

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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    We play backgammon, chess, Connect Four, Monopoly, Chinese Checkers etc.
    Dr. Mordrid
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  5. #5
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    The classics...
    Somehow, having played other games, Monopoly seems one the games that lost its appeal. Why would you trade streets if you have more monopolies than others? So there has to be some goodwill of the players to make it more enjoyable, even if that goodwill is punished later on. But maybe I just prefer games where such type of player interaction is not needed.

    Agricola is unique as a boardgame as the only random aspect is the choice of starting player. There are a number of possible actions each player can take during a round, but when one player takes an action, the others cannot take it. Every round, the number of possible actions increase. The goal is to build a farm (animals, vegetables), and each player starts with a family of two and each of both of them can take an action. Actions are for example: take wood (to build fences), take a seed, sow, take a sheep, ... Or even become first player to take actions. Every three (later in the game two) rounds you have to generate food for the family: from harvesting or animals. At the end, you get points for number of animals, rooms, vegetables, .... It all looks cute and innocent when you see it, but the tactics really get complicated as you have to switch tactics when an action you want is blocked by another player. The rules are quite simple though, which is a benefit as it allows one to quickly start a game.
    The expert version uses additional cards that offer strengths, and then more randomness is added.
    Last edited by VJ; 15th July 2018 at 04:06.
    pixar
    Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow. (James Dean)

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