September is when we celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day by having a pirate party where we play pirate board games, drink pirate drinks, swap pirate treasure, and say “ARRR!” quite a lot. We have more than a few favorite pirate board games, but a new addition this year will be the recently released Libertalia.
In order to be included in the pirate festivities, a board game must meet these requirements:
- It must be playable in under an hour.
- It must have a pirate theme, or be modified to a pirate theme.
- A pirate must be able to play and enjoy the game while perhaps not entirely in command of his or her full mental capacity.
- There must be many opportunities to say “ARRR!” and occasionally “Shiver me timbers!”
Let’s see how Libertalia passed the Pirate Party game test. Designed by Paolo Mori, Libertalia only takes about 45 minutes to play, and players take on the roles of pirates fighting over treasure in order to score the most doubloons. Check and check.
For the most part, players must choose a single card to play from a limited hand of cards, take the actions indicated, and choose some treasure. While there is a good amount of strategy involved in the choice of card and the choice of treasure, both of those choices could easily be made even if a player is slightly adrift mentally. (It is not a requirement to be able to play well, just to be able to play.) Check.
Libertalia can be played with up to six players, which is another bonus, and has a recommended age of 14. No underage pirates are allowed at the pirate party. (Sorry kids, there’s just too much skulduggery and pirate cursing, including the gross overuse of the word “booty.”) Check.
Inside of the beautifully designed box, you will find a typical assortment of components, including some beautifully illustrated cards, a small game board, player boards, a scoring track, some cardboard doubloons, booty tokens, and a cloth bag. You get rules too, of course. The art on the box, cards, and components by Ben Carre and Stéphane Gantiez is exceptional, and really enhances the pirate theme of the game. Everything included is of very high quality. The cards are especially nice and feature realistic portraits of the pirate crew and other various characters.
Libertalia is played in three rounds where players play character cards in a simultaneous reveal which determines the order in which the various character card abilities are executed. During the first round, all players will have the same hand of cards, determined randomly from the deck of 30. Since not all of these cards will be chosen during that first round, when the new cards for the second round are chosen, it is unlikely that all players will still have the same hand of cards, since each player will have likely saved different cards from the first round. So while all players will have access to the same set of cards during the game, they may play those cards as they see fit during a particular round.
The cards are numbered from 1 to 30 and once revealed, they are laid out on the game board sequentially from lowest to highest. Ties are broken by an additional value on the card. The actions are then taken in numeric order, if actions are indicated, and then treasure is taken in reverse order. Players score doubloons by managing the card actions and collecting treasure. During each round, players can collect the character cards in their den, which is usually a good thing. Libertalia features a good deal of player interaction, since players can target the dens of opponents on their right or left. I recommend that couples do not sit next to each other. Otherwise, you will pay for that treachery later. “ARRR!”
I’m very excited to include Libertalia in this year’s pirate festivities. It’s a gorgeous production with solid game play, and I imagine we will enjoy it for many pirate parties to come. Libertalia is available at your local friendly game store, like the Crazy Squirrel here in Fresno, or you can order it from a quality online retailer like Funagain.com. If you do order from Funagain, please use my affiliate link, P2RX, when you check out. It doesn’t cost you anything, but Funagain gives me a small amount of store credit for sending them some business. Discussing affiliate links is not very piratey. “ARRR!”