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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, It’s A Pirate’s Life for Three (Publishers)

by W. Eric Martin

We’re Sinking! is the debut title from designer Joseph Frederick of Ludamus Games, and it features a situation with which we are undoubtedly all familiar: Scooping up treasure while trying to defeat a threat that will kill us.

Here’s an overview of this 3-6 player game:

Players take on the role of pirates on a ship under siege. As the ship takes damage, the crew must work together to repair the ship and defeat one of the threats — kraken, skeleton pirates, megalodon, or sirens — while keeping the ship from sinking.

Each turn, players choose one of four actions: Bucket decreases the current water level; Patch fixes breaches and busted cannon; Fire allows you to fire cannons at the enemy; and Plunder allows you to steal revealed loot cards. Players discuss and possibly bluff about which actions they should take, then they secretly choose their actions on hidden compass dials, place them face down, then reveal them simultaneously.

Will you or your fellow crew instead choose to selfishly pocket treasure as precious time runs out? If you can manage to take out the threat, the game ends, and you win if you have the largest treasure score. If the ship sinks before taking out the threat, you win by having the fewest cards in hand.

• New publisher Fabled Games also planned to launch with a pirate game: Back O’ Beyond: Tales of Blood & Salt from Nick Niotis and Argyris Poungouras, designers of Darkest Dungeon: The Board Game.

While the Kickstarter campaign to fund the game has been cancelled for now, the game will likely sail again in the future, so here’s what you will find:

Back O’ Beyond is a highly thematic mid-weight 2-4 player euro game that takes around 30 minutes per player to complete. In the game, you take the role of a pirate captain, and your goal is to become the most renowned pirate, that is, the one with the most prestige points.

The game is played over five rounds, and each round consists of three phases. To start, new contracts that pirates compete over are revealed, the tavern is filled with potential crew, ships that can be captured arrive, and players repair or upgrade their ships…and possibly sabotage others. Next, by using a dice-based combat system, players attempt to plunder trading ships to gather precious loot and raise their dread, morale, reputation, and (most importantly) infamy. To end the round, players decide who to keep or dismiss from their crew through the power of food, morale, and rum.

• Maybe there’s something in the water as UK publisher Steamforged Games has also announced a pirate game — Sea of Thieves: Voyage of Legends, with this Q3 2023 release being an adaption of the 2018 Sea of Thieves video game by Rare Ltd.

Only the barest description of this 2-4 player game has been released for now:

From fulfilling bounties and following treasure maps to boarding the ships of fellow players and stealing their loot, in Sea of Thieves: Voyage of Legends players can live a pirate life of their own choosing as they compete for the title of Pirate Legend by completing various quests and objectives to gain reputation. Along the way, they must confront skeletal enemies crewing hostile ships, foreboding forts that wait on the horizon, and behemoths like the kraken and megalodon lurking in the deep which are capable of capsizing a ship in moments.

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